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THE FULFILLING OF THE SCRIPTURE. OR An Essay shewing the exact Accomplishment of the WORD of GOD, in his WORKS per­formed and to be performed. For confirming of Believers, and convincing Atheists of the present Time: Containing some rare HISTORIES of the Works and the Servants of GOD in the Church of SCOTLAND.

By the Reverend Mr. Robert Fleming, Late Pastor of a Church in Rotterdam.

With a Preface by Mr. Foxcroft, Pastor to the first Church in Boston.

ACT.1. 16.
This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled
JOH. 10. 35.
And the Scripture cannot be broken.

BOSTON, New-England, Printed by ROGERS and FOWLE, for NATHANAEL PROCTER at the Bible and Dove in Ann-street, near the Draw-Bridge. 1743.

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To the READER.

THIS excellent Book, The Fulfilling of the Scriptures, has long been a cele­brated Piece, and much read in a great Part of the Protestant World; as to should seem by the numerous Editions of it, in various Countries. It found such Entertainment at its first Publication, that quickly there was a new Impression [Anno 1671.] When the Author revis'd his Work, and made consi­derable Enlargements in the Body of it (constantly distinguishing those Additions, with this Mark both before and after) and further added an Appen­dix, to lead us into some practical Reflections, and proper Uses of the whole.—It's from this Edition, with such Alterations and Improvements, that the present Impression is done.

Being desired to revise the Copy, before it went to the Press, I found a Multitude of typographical Er­rata, which according to my best Skill I endeavour'd to amend; tho' upon a Review I observe, some lesser Mistakes have escaped the Printer's or my Correction, especially in the Pointing, which seems a little to cloud the Sense in several Places: but such Care has been us'd, that I hope no very great Errors have been committed in this Impression.

[Page iv] In some Instances, with Regard to the Diction, I have presumed to use the like Liberty, as the late Rev. Mr. DANIEL BURGESS, in republishing another valuable Performance of the same Author, has done before me. Besides the Authority of his Example, I have this Apology to make in his Words. "No Lion found I in my Way: but a sorry Worm I counted the Exclamation of some nice Folk, against the Phrase and Style of this confessedly excellent Work. Dutifully I compassionated the weak; and no less the many sick, of Curiosity: Who have such Ulcers in their Palates, that they cannot, without cruel Pain, swallow the most desirable Dainties, un­less they may take them in Oil and Sugar; cannot prevail with themselves to read Periods that require an attentive Mind, and the least Strain of their Un­derstanding. Wherefore I used my Spunge, and took out as many Expressions of my Author's native Lan­guage, that I thought would disturb an English Rea­der; substituting such as appear'd sufficiently intelli­gible." But where important Matters of Fact are related, I have thought it best to leave the Language altogether untouched.

The first and other Editions of the present Trea­tise were anonymous: But I have taken the Free­dom to prefix the reputed Writer's Name to this: Tho' not so much upon the Credit of Tradition and com­mon Fame, as of an express Testimony, the said Mr. BURGESS has left us of the Fact; who having disco­ver'd the Author (about the Year 1693) correspond­ed with him, then living in Holland, and drew him out of his affected Secrecy. In his Edition of the Treatise, intitled, The confirming Work of Re­ligion, he has (to do Honour to the Writer) inserted [Page v] in the Title-Page this Clause, "Written by R. FLEMING, Author of The Fulfilling of the Scrip­tures." And in his Epistle to the Reader he has the following Paragraphs, which I take Leave to transcribe into mine.

"The highest Angels are most humble Creatures: The Church of God is full of their Services; but knoweth next to nothing of their Names. Their Works praise their Lord and ours, but not them­selves. And if the evangelical Author of this Book could have had his Will, the Churches of Christ should not have had his Name. He would have kept himself together a Benefactor and a Sort of Stranger unto them.

"Against his Will it came to be known, that his Book of the Fulfilling of the Scriptures was his. And by the divine Providence it was made ne­cessary, that his latter Works should bear his Name. Obscurity was his Ambition; though his Gifts and Graces prove too big and too bright to be covered. And, in short, it hath pleased the supreme Ruler (and Fountain of Honour) to ho­nour him whether he would or no.

"The Book first named [The Fulfilling of the Scriptures] is followed with the Eulogies of the greatest DIVINES; and is a Manna sweet to the Taste of all serious Christians. His Epistolary Discourse, dedicated to the Queen's Majesty, was most graciously accepted by Her, and highly va­lued by those that I must think the best of her Subjects. Being, as is his Discourse of Earth­quakes, a Treasure of Things old and new; Mich­tams, golden Jewels; Arguments, several, not so much as touched by any Pen within her Do­minions, [Page vi] or beyond them, save Mr. FLEMING's."

The said Rev. Editor has added, The JUDG­MENT of some London-Ministers concerning one of his Treatises, who say, "We give our great Thanks to the Author of e­very good Gift, who hath drawn this his richly furnished Scribe, to supply us with so very need­ful a Treatise, as is here offered. Some of us do profess, that in reading it we were surprized with Joy, and with Wonder, that a Topick so little written, discoursed, or thought of, should be treated on with such Depth of Judgment, and with such Experience as is rarely found in the most lau­dible Writers. Thro' the divine Blessing which we implore, we hope, that we and our Brethren throughout these Nations shall find good Success of our People's Use of this most instructive Work. For which, with the excellent Author, (who did but consent to this Edition of it) we are indebted unto the Reverend and worthy Pub­lisher, by whose Means we receive it. We join with both of them, in Prayer to the Most High, that this rich Seed of the Sower may be made Bread of Life to the Eater."—The above Attesta­tion is signed by the late Dr. BATES, Mr. MEAD, Mr. COLE, Mr. HOWE, Mr. SYLVESTER, Dr. WILLI­AMS, and Mr. SHOWERS, some of the most burning and shining Lights among the dissenting Mini­sters of the last Age.

After so ample and honorable Testimonies from such eminent Hands, and contemporary with Mr. FLEMING, it were a needless and a vain Attempt in me, to offer at any Thing, further in Praise of the Author of The Fulfilling of the Scriptures, or in [Page vii] order to bespeak a welcome Reception of this his Per­formance among us.—I trust it will be found a Word in Season.

I shall take Occasion here to observe, that when I deliberate on Mr. FLEMING's Monuments of Grace in former Days, particularly his Accounts of that memorable WORK of GOD in the West of Scotland about the Year 1625, and That in Ireland about three Years after (recorded in this Book, Page 393, 394.) and then view in a comparative Light some recent Accounts from Scotland of a Revival of Re­ligion there, together with what we have seen and heard of the late remarkable Work in our English A­merica; I can't but concur in Sentiments with such as believe a near Resemblance, in many Respects, between the several Cases: I behold a surprising Dis­play of Divine Power and Grace, a very conspicuous Ministration of the SPIRIT, in each of these admi­rable Instances; and desire to give GOD the Glory due to his great Name. I think, we have in the Months past seen among these Churches, what Mr. FLEMING distinguishes by the Name of more solemn Times of the SPIRIT, and high Spring-Tides of the Gospel, whence a great Flight of Souls to Christ usually follows, with various other observable Events. [See Pag. 134,—140.]

I am aware indeed, that some Circumstances of the late religious Commotion (as they call it) are Mat­ter of Stumbling to many, and have occasioned much Debate, both in private Conversation, and in publick Discourse and Writing. But I think, none deny, that uncommon Impressions, of a religious Aspect, have been prevalent of late in many Places, thro' out all New-England, and the Provinces adjacent. And [Page viii] I judge it worthy a particular Remark, concerning those who account for the Rise & Progress of these religious Impressions by the Principles of Enthusiasm, or the Laws of Mechanism, resolving them into no better Original than an over-heated Brain, a Fire in the Imagination, and a Tumult in animal Nature; yet the more sober and impartial Inquirers, among those who view the Affair in this Philosophical Light, have nevertheless made such frank and full CONCESSIONS, with Regard to the happy Termination of these un­usual Impressions in numerous Instances, which I suppose Ingenuity and the Force of a rational Convic­tion drew from them, as are enough (one would think) to rebuke their Incredulity, and to silence their ig­norant Invectives against the Times, who (in open Contradiction to the great Rules of Piety, Charity, Truth, and Decency towards their Superiors) may have presumed to declare the late marvellous Work of GOD among us a meer Scene of Delusion and Impo­sture, and to absolutely pronounce the Accounts of it romantic Deceivings, which some of our most expe­rienced, wise, and learned, both in the Magistracy and Ministry, have given the Publick.

I find it expresly confessed, by some in the Opposi­tion to this uncommon Appearance, that they will not deny, there is a GREAT DEAL of that among us, which must be acknowledged to be true Religion, mixt with that which some may think to be the Effect of Imagination.—They say, they do not de­ny, that there may be a Mixture of real Christia­nity with great Enthusiasm.—And they doubt not, the unusual Appearance among us has been a Means to rouse MANY, who were before thoughtless; and to quicken MANY, who had fallen into a Slum­ber. [Page ix] They are not against allowing, that a GOOD NUMBER of Sinners have (probably) been conver­ted into Saints; and as GREAT a Number of Saints enlivened in their Christian Work.—I find them repeatedly acknowledging, they are of Opinion, that the Appearances among us—have been the Means of awakning the Attention of many; and a GOOD NUMBER, they hope, have settled into a truly Christian Temper.—In a Word, they say, That Good hath been done, is granted on all Hands; but it is denied by many, that near so much hath been done, as to warrant this high Encomium upon the Work.—[These are Passages occurring in sundry printed Pieces, which I thought it worth while to collect, and thus present in one View before the Reader.] Now I gladly accept these Concessions, as some Testimony to a special Presence and Pow­er of the SPIRIT OF GRACE in the late remarkable Season; altho' their intended & real Meaning may possibly be only this, That while our unhappy Case has been, "Enthusiasm raging," and "the supersti­tious Panick running very high," a merciful GOD has interposed, and controuled these strange "Fer­vours of Imagination," has "sanctified these Im­pressions to the spiritual Advantage of many," and wonderfully over-rul'd in this Affair, to pro­duce gracious Effects, contrary to the natural Opera­tion of second Causes; bringing Good out of Evil, and fetching Meat out of the Eater.—Well, were this a just Construction of the Ma [...], What then? Not­withstanding, every Way, whether in Pretence, [Page x] or in Truth, Christ is preached, & CHRIST is ex­alted, his Body increased by the winning of many Souls: And I therein do rejoice; yea, and I will rejoice. However, tho' I thus speak, I am clearly of O­pinion, the State of the Case ought to be otherwise re­presented: and I believe, it will be no Mis-applicati­on of Simeon's Declaration, if I say in the Language of that, God AT THE FIRST did visit these Lands, to take out of them a People for his Name. For I am persuaded, that the religious Impressions, so ge­neral among us, owed their Rise, as well as Progress, and happy Issue (in the confessedly multiplied Instan­ces hereof) to the exceeding Grace of GOD, and a special Influence of his Holy SPIRIT.—Though, I'm not insensible, while good Wheat has been sowing in Abundance, the Enemy of all Righteousness has been uncommonly buisy in mingling his Tares: Ne­vertheless, still I must say, I look upon it to have been a Day of Visitation, a signal Day of the Mediator's Power: And that his Name is near, his wondrous Works declare; both his Works of common Grace in Conviction and Reformation, and his Works of spe­cial Grace in Conversion, in progressive Sanctification, and in the Comfort of the Holy Ghost.

Pursuant to the late TESTIMONY of a numerous Body of Ministers, I'm truly glad to find those very worthy Persons, the Rev. and aged Mr. STONE and Mr. LORING, notwithstanding the Difficulties that seem to incumber their Thoughts, in Relation to the unusual Appearances among us, and certain Articles of Conduct, which they enumerate and declare a­gainst; yet so far joining with their Brethren, as to give the Publick the following Attestation. These are some of their Words.—"That there is a SIGNAL Work of the HOLY GHOST of late, to and fro in [Page xi] New-England, SUPERIOR to what has been in ma­ny past Years, seems evident; and that the great JEHOVAH is for it to be adored by us. But there doubtless is a very grievous Failure in many Pro­fessors, in their not distinguishing between the good Seed sowed in the Field, and the Tares sow­ed by an Enemy, i. e. the Devil.—In what ap­pears of late among us, there seems evidently to be the Work of the Holy Ghost, in convincing, humbling, and converting Souls; and as evi­dently, a Work of the Devil, in promoting what tends to blast and ruin that Work."

To which I would add, in this complex State of Things, I think, we have a notable Discovery of the Fulfilling of the Scriptures. This Book may administer much Light and many seasonable Tho'ts, in such a Coincidence of Facts.

We should be equally cautious, What we ascribe to the HOLY SPIRIT's Influence, and lest we deny or dispa­rage What is of the HOLY GHOST; and has his Signa­ture.—Therefore I think it meet to record here a Para­graph in a late Protestation presented to the Philadel­phia-Synod, by the Rev. Messi. Dickinson, Pierson, Pem­berton, &c. "WE protest against all th [...]se Passages in any of the Pamphlets, lately publish'd in these Parts, which seem to reflect upon the Work of divine Power and Grace, that has been carrying on in so wonderful a Manner, in many of our Congregations: and declare to all the World, that we look upon it to be the indispensa­ble Duty of all our Ministers, to encourage that glori­ous Work with their most faithful and diligent Endea­vours. And we in like Manner protest and declare a­gainst all divisive and irregular Methods and Practices, by which the Peace and good Order of our Churches have been broken in upon."

To this I subscribe— THOMAS FOXCROFT.
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The Author's Epistle to the READER.

READER,

IT is like you may expect some account of the rise and occasion of this Dis­course; that on so great and weigh­ty a subject, so small an Essay should venture abroad; especially in a time, when it seemeth more safe & prudent, to keep silence, to be swift to hear, & slow to speak, which seldom hath an after-challenge. The Author will say little for his apology herein, tho' he hopeth, he may find it more easy to satisfy others, than he did himself. This freedom only he [...] take, to con­fess, that sometimes it hath been matter of ear­nest, yea, hath caused some tossing and exercise upon his spirit, & pressed a more serious enquiry and search, with a respect to his own case, to be perswaded about the Scripture's divine authority, that Godliness is not an empty name or shadow, but of an undoubted truth, what indeed of all other things is the greatest, and of most near concernment. And truly about that, this grave convincing argument of the Scripture's certain Accomplishment, hath not only oft sta­red him in the face, with a satisfying discovery and impression thereof, as a most quieting and unansweroble demonstration of the truth; but [Page xiii] he must also say, that by very remarkable con­firmations from the Lord this hath been so convincingly witnessed to his Experience, as leaveth him under engagement (were such a poor testimony of weight) to put his seal to the Word, that it falleth not to the ground, nei­ther doth the promise of God fail.

It is a dark time now with the Church of Christ; which we see every where almost suffe­ring and afflicted, whilst the whole earth be­sides seemeth to be at ease; Christians also even beyond others in their private lot, assaulted with very sharp trials; though, I think, suffering may be the least of our fear at this day, while A­theism doth now appear on so formidable a growth, and hath a more threatning aspect, than the rage or violence of men. We see a sad de­cay likewise on the Churches abroad; Religion e­very where under a great consumption, & wear­ing out, that seemeth to have reached it in its vital parts: Men search after an unusual way of sinning, as if they scorned to be wicked at a com­mon and ordinary rate; prejudice easily taken up and entertained against the way of God; whilst the good man doth (alas!) perish, without any affecting observation thereof; the choice and excellent of the earth pluckt away, and none to fill their room; Christians burials now fre­quent, but the birth and in-bringing of such to the Church, rare. This is indeed a sad subject, and so much the sadder, that few are sound whose eye affecteth their heart, whose tears and groaning seem to answer such a stroke and ruin which now is like to fall under our hand: but [Page xiv] I shall leave this. Prayer will be the best cure, and is this day more fit, than complaining, to turn unto him, who seeth the ways of his People, that he may heal them, and can prevent those with mercy, who seem least fit for the same.—Only two or three sad remarks of this time, I cannot altogether pass; which indeed are strange symptoms of the Church's present case and distemper.—(1.) To see men own the doc­trine of sanctification, who yet can professed­ly disown, yea, make it their work by re­proach to beget a prejudice against the practice thereof. On strange! to find such as will dip their pen in gall against a tender and strict walk in Religion, and revile it in the power thereof; whilst they do not deny those truths, & princi­ples, that necessarily oblige to such a tender prac­tice; who, in the most grave concerning duties of Christianity, think it enough to charge their brethren with Pharisaical Ostentation, and Hypo­crisy, whilst they must confess these duties to be unquestionably binding; and that they can be no competent judges of such a challenge, which the great witness of the heart & in ward parts of of men can only determine. (2.) It is a sad remark also of the time, that Protestant Writers, profes­sing the reform'd Religion, shall state themselves in opposition to the most concerning grounds thereof, such as imputed righteousness, and justi­fication by faith, which is well called Articulus stantis et cadentis Ecclesiae. I cannot have that cha­rity, that it is from ignorance, but from a height of malice, that some of [...]ate reproach the Protes­tant doctrine, in this great fundamental of justi­fication; [Page xv] as if it pressed believing and resting up­on Christ without respect to works and holi­ness. I confess, we put not inherent righteous­ness in the room of imputed; though we assert each is necessary in their own place, the one in order to our right, the other in order to our actual and full possession of that right, yea, that holiness is absolutely necessary, not only necessitate pre­cepti, sed medii; and justifying faith doth neces­sarily require works, sed non qua, et quatenus jus­tificat. But sure, if these men grant that we are justified by the satisfaction of Christ, they must needs confess it is by imputation; since if the deb­tor be acquitted by the Cautioners payment, is it not by the Imputation thereof to him? O sad! to see some put their invention upon the rack how to wound the Church (yea, a death-wound it would be, if they could reach their end) in that great truth of imputed righteousness! But it were best they deny'd that 6th ver. of the 4. Ch. to the the Rom. to be canonial Scripture, which none can read, and shift; it being so clear, that the blessed man is there held forth, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. Sure that cannot be inherent righteousness, else it were contradictio in adjecto. I profess, those (what ever they pretend) I must look on as adversaries to the Reformed Churches; and there is nothing more dangerous than a pirat going forth under a counterfit flag.—(3.) Is it not likewise sad, yea, astonishing to see, Ministers now in these times, who are the ex­press Embassadors of Christ given to the Church for her edification, stand so directly cross to the very end of their work & Ministry; many, of whom it [Page xvi] may be said, that knowingly & deliberately they oppose piety! That such should persecute, whose work is to feed; should wound, in stead of healing; grieve the spirit of the Godly, who should be hel­pers of their joy! that none are a greater plague, to corrupt the Church, and cause the sacrifices of the Lord to be abhorred, than some of those who should be the salt of the earth! yea, none more obstruct the treaty of the Gospel, betwixt Christ and his Church, than Ministers who are called the friends of the bridegroom! Oh what a strange and astonishing contradiction may this seem! But it should be no reproach to that holy and ex­cellent calling of the Ministry; for of such the Scripture hath expresly warned. I confess, it may be said, No Atheist like an unsanctified Mi­nister; yea, no Atheism of so black a die as theirs, who being still employed about holy things, have yet no sense thereof.

Now in this very dark hour, wherein the Church seemeth to have fallen into a death like pang, and oh many of her Children in a sad le­thargy) that if we looked in an ordinary way, her wound might seem incureable, there are two great and concerning Quaeries, that I think should much take us up. The one is, to know what the Scripture speaketh to the Church; what solid ground of en­couragement is there held forth? For truly, if we had not that sure testimony of the Word, we might fear, Religion would quite wear out, and Truth perish from the earth: but doth the Scripture speak peace? all then is well. That (O that) is suffi­cient security, to put the Church's hope beyond further debate; tho' men should threaten, tho' the earth were overturned, & the foundation sha­ken! [Page xvii] This is a determination, above men, above all the rules of humane policy, yea, above the stars, which frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; even that revealed Counsel of God, taking place about his work and People.

I know, some grave writers of these late times do express their fear, that the horrid wicked­ness and apostacy of the Gentile Church may at last resolve in the Lord's departure, and an uni­versal darkness; that as the rejection of the Jews made way for the Gentiles incoming, so their fall may as remarkably preceed that solemn return and restauration of the Jewish Church; it is also become the fear of many, that Popery may yet once overrun the whole Reformed Churches, be­fore Antichrist's fall. But since these sad tho'ts nor any appearance of the time, are no part of our Bible, we should learn neither to stretch our fears, nor expectations, beyond that which the Scripture warranteth: and if the Lord be God, and this his very word, let us adhere to it, and wait for its accomplishment.—A second Quere, which is indeed no less concerning in such a time, may be about Duty: What do so eminent an hazard of the Church, and this great decay of Christianity, most pressingly call for? But this is a subject which requireth another pen, and too large, to touch with a passing word: yea, we may say, the great want of these days is not about the discovery of duty, but of the practice of known, and discovered duties. For the Scripture giveth a certain and distinct found, in the darkest time; and hath not left us to doubtful enquiries, and debate in this matter. I shall therefore leave [Page xviii] it, with a few things only to be in the general considered. (1.) It is sure, that every time hath its present duty; and the wise discerners thereof will know thence what they ought to do, what work and service the present circumstances of that time call for. Shall the earth have its seasons, wherein things are beautiful? shall the stork and swallow know their time? and yet Christians not know how to bring forth fruit in their season, and discern the special time and opportunity of duty! (2.) It is also sure, that every Christian, in what soever capacity or condition, as he hath his mea­sure and talent, so hath some work, and oppor­tunity of duty; wherein they may serve the Lord in their generation: yea, it is not the meanest lot or condition, that shutteth that door upon any, that they have no work for God, who desire to be faithful for him. O that in this threatning time, when darkness is like to overspread the Church, it were more upon the hearts of Christians, to strive together, and contend by a serious improvement of their several capacities, to pre­serve Religion, and transmit the knowledge of Jesus Christ to the posterity; that the Christian parent, or Master of family, did witness more that great resolution, in a time when many are draw­ing back, But as for me, I and my house will serve the Lord!—(3.) It is found, that the most eminent and honourable service of the Church doth usually be­fal her in a low and suffering condition. When there hath been but little strength, & many outward disadvantages, then both their call and furniture hath been most observable, to confess the truth, to endure for the Gospel of Christ, to overcome [Page xix] by the Word of his testimony; a piece of ser­vice, whereto more prosperous times do not give such an opportunity. Yea, it hath been in such a case, Dan. 11. 32. that those who knew their God, were made strong to do exploits.—(4.) It doth much concern us, to put a high value on the truth, in a time when men must either lose it, or buy it. And O! what a choice purchase is that, which cannot be bought too dear, tho' at the rate of our liberty, estate, credit and reputation, yea, with the loss of peace, when it cometh in competition with it? For it is that great depositum, once delivered to the Saints, the inhe­ritance of our Children, that way whereby Je­sus Christ keepeth intercourse with his Bride on the earth, yea, the charter of all our mercies, and of our hope through eternity.—(5.) Tho' eve­ty line of divine truth is inestimble; yet it is sure, there is a more pressing call for our adherence to that truth, which is most controverted in the time. For it is the word of his patience, and the matter of our present testimony: and it is known through all ages, what a singular blessing hath fol­lowed the contending and witnessing of a few for the truth (in a torrent of publick defection) to keep it alive, when it was like to be swallow­ed up; yea, to effects above rational belief; unus Athanasius contra totum orbem! Many such re­marks have not been wanting.—(6.) I shall only add, that which is always necessary and bin­ding, yet we may say in a time of the Church's hazard and suffering is more pressingly called for, even the study of Christian PRUDENCE; a duty convincingly necessary, for regulating of duties, [Page xx] according to the circumstances of the Church's case: which doth so nearly concern the in­terest and preservation of Religion, that I must say, A breach in that Concord betwixt ZEAL and Christian PRUDENCE, when there is not some equal respect studyed in the exercise of both, cannot but give the Church a sore WOUND. This is indeed a large theme; but I shall only point at in three things. 1. In our avoiding and being tender to give offence; not only to keep a distance from e­vil, but from the smallest appearance thereof. I must say, they are bad casuists, and have little res­pect to the Churches edification, who make it their work, not so much to keep men from sin, as to shew them, quam prope ad peccatum sine peccato accedere liceat. O what a becoming fear is that, not to lay a stumbling block in the way of others, to grieve the weak, or confirm such who use to found their prejudice against the truth and way of God, upon the miscarriage of such as pro­fess the same. 2. This excellent study of Chris­tian Prudence hath a respect to men's taking of­fence, as well as their giving it; to our being so­ber in judging, in personal reflections, to cover and hide the infirmities of others, rather than spread them, even for the Gospel's sake; yea, to shut as it were our eyes, and cast a mantle on their naked­ness, who tho' overtaken with the violence of some temptation may yet be serviceable to the Church; but especially this should press us to a watchful regard of any breach & rent in the Church, and to study a healing spirit, so far as is possible, without prejudice to truth. 3. It is also a concern­ing piece of Christian Prudence, how to walk [Page xxi] wisely towards those who are without, when pre­judice against the way of God is now in such a growth; to study how we may convince, gain ground, and by Christianly prudent and tender carriage conciliate respect to the truth; and thus commend holiness, and those who profess it, to the conscience of men; to study that rule of Ex­pediency much in things of themselves warran­table, what fitness and advantage present cir­cumstances may offer, or deny for edification and promoting that great interest of the Gospel in our converse with men.

I shall now cease to trouble you further; only would premise some few things with a respect to the subject of this following essay.—(1.) Should we not with wonder and astonishment look on this great record of the Scripture? by which the glo­rious Majesty of God doth speak to men, yea doth as certainly communicate his Counsel and mind, we may say more certainly, than if we had an immediate audible voice from Heaven. O could we have such ordinary thoughts of this, if we consider how near GOD cometh therein to us? I think, if there were but one corner of the earth, though in the remotest parts, where men might go and get a look of so wonder­ful and important a thing as God's express Will written and sent from Heaven to the earth, about our duty here, and blessedness for ever, should we not think it worth our crossing the sea, and the greatest expence of time or la­bour? It is truly a wonder how we can read and consider the Scripture, without wondring.—(2.) It is a great concernment, to know that the Scrip­ture [Page xxii] hath such a witness, as Experience! and that there is such a trade and correspondence as this be­twixt the Saints and the Word, which lieth not in the common road of the World. O what an empty thing would Religion be, if it had not this word Experience in its grammar; that secret and sure mark, whereby the Christian knoweth the Scripture is of God; how thus the Lord hath oft sealed their instruction in a dark plunge; how life and power, inlivening influences, to the mel­ting of their heart, have oft met them therein a very dead frame; and now they know that ve­rily God heareth prayer: now they are perswa­ded, and have learned by the cross, that he is in­deed a Comforter; yea, many can shew how by the Word their first acquaintance with the Lord did begin; how some particular truth, like a grain of corn sown in their heart, by the bles­sing of the great husbandman was made to take life, and grow.—(3.) It much concerneth us, to know what an excellent key the Scripture is to unlock that sealed book of providence; and that no other key can fit the same; many have tried a­nother way, but lost themselves on the search, & the more they attempt by human wisdom, they became the more dark. I truly think, there is not a more satisfying discovery within time, than this, to trace divine truth back until we see its first breaking forth out of his eternal decree and council, who is the author thereof; how thence it taketh hold of the word, which is the adequate sign and declaration of his purpose; and then how the word taketh hold of his work and pro­vidence, where we may see the face and con­dition [Page xxiii] of the Church clearly written out through all the changes of time; how providence keep­eth a certain and steady course, even amidst the most perplexed motions & reelings of the earth; yea, how all things, even those which would seem most contradictory, run within that strait channel of the word, and cannot go without these bounds.—(4.) It is the principal & most con­cerning Scripture-promises, that are only touch­ed in this following discourse, these which carry along with them a clear continued series of the Church's condition through time, and shew the most remarkable changes of her lot. For it is clear, that in diverse prophecies and in a different man­ner the Spirit doth point at one & the same thing: and truly it should cause no mistake or preju­dice, that we find several of the Scripture-pro­phecies exprest in such dark terms, since the wis­dom of God saw it fit that for a time these truths should be locked up and sealed. But now light hath so far broken forth with the event, as we may see how very significant and suitable to the matter these most dark aenigmatick terms are.—(5.) We should upon no account shut our ears, where the Scripture is clear, and giveth us ground to hope that the outgoing of the Lord, for his people in their deliveranee, & for the destruction of his enemies, now in these last times, shall be very glorious; yea, by some stately & stupendious acts of providence, that he shall accomplish his judg­ment on Antichrist: neither must we take a preju­dice at truth, because of the wilde Fancies of many who would extend it beyond its bounds, or that near Resemblance which the Error of some in [Page xxiv] this time may seem to have thereto. For that hath been an old stratagem of the Devil, to prejudice the World at some of the truths of God, by setting up a counterfeit thereto. I shall add no more, only what account is given, upon the close of the last argument, of some remarkable passages of providence in the late times, as here­in the Author hath some confidence to profess, he did endeavour what could be attained for certainty of the same, and if any circumstances of these relations should be found a mistake, he dare say before Him who is greater than our conscience, it was not the neglect of serious inquiry; so he must also premise, the inserting of them was upon no further intent, than to be a witness to that truth of the Lord's eminent ap­pearance for his Church in the last days. It would be of great use and profit to the Church, that some more fitly qualified would study a more large Collection of this kind. O that this might go forth with a blessing from Him, who by the meanest things can serve himself, and promote the edification of his Church; and that the Lord would raise some up with much of his Spirit, to make a further search and enquiry into this great and weighty truth.

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INDEX.

  • THE grave subject of the Scripture's accomplish­ment considered in some special truths, previously held forth for giving light to the same. 1.
  • I. What is thereby to be understood, in nine Particulars opened. 2.
  • II. The verification of the Scripture, considered as the Lord's peculiar work and design in the World, and in the whole conduct of providence. 7.
  • III. How clear & manifest this great truth is. 12.
  • IV. That this, notwithstanding of clear demonstra­tive evidences of the same, is hid from the most of men, and a great mystery to them. 15.
  • V. What an unanswerable witness and argument, the fulfilling of the Scripture is, of its divinity, to satis­fy and quiet the soul about this. 21.
  • VI. That it is a most solacing, & singularly delectable truth. 25.
  • VII. How much the Godly are concerned, now in these latter times, to study the fulfilling of the Scripture, and what advantage they have for the same beyond former ages. 32.
  • VIII. How weighty a duty it is, & on what pressing grounds it lies at each Christian's door. 36.
  • Five Arguments set down, whence this truth is in the following treatise largely demonstrated. 40.
The First ARGUMENT,
  • [Page ii]FRom the solid and sure Experience of the Godly in all ages; which doth witness the real performance of the Scripture. This cleared in five Instances. 41.
  • 1. Instance, That there is a contrariety betwixt the flesh and the spirit, witnessed by Christian experience, as clearly as it is held forth in the Scripture. 43.
  • 2. Instance, Of the deceitfulness of man's heart, with that witness given in from experience thereto. 46.
  • 3. Instance, That there is an invisible adversary with­out, as clear and discernable, as that there is corrup­tion within. 48.
  • 4. Instance, Shews that real intercourse betwixt a Christian and the promises of the word, by sure experience, and how clea [...] [...]is may be demonstrated. 51.
  • Some previous considerations, for our right under­standing this. 53.
  • A more particular demonstration in ten special pro­mises, wherewith the Godly, through their life, have a most usual and continual trade. 55.
  • 1. The Promise considered with respect to our be­lieving, and adventuring on the naked word, with­out any probable appearance of its fulfilling; and how clearly this is verified. 56.
  • 2. That God hears and answers Prayer, from solid experience demonstrated. 58.
  • 3. That the pouring out of the Spirit, and its sealing and marvellous power on the soul, is no delusion, but certainly known, demonstrated. 61.
  • 4. That light and counsel to the Godly, and the directing of their steps, according to the promise, is made out to those who commit their way to God. 65.
  • 5. The promise of pardon and forgiveness, how it is sealed by experience. 67.
  • 6. The promise to integrity, and encouragement to the [Page iii] Godly under the cross, verified. 70.
  • 7. The promise to integrity and uprightness in an evil times 73.
  • 8. That the promise of assistance and strength for du­ty, is truly made out and verified. 75.
  • 9. The promise of all things working together for their good who love God, clearly verified in experience. 77.
  • 10. The great gain and advantage of Godliness, de­monstrated according to the promise. 80.
  • 5. Instance, Holds forth the verification of Scripture-threatnings, such under whose [...]each the Godly may fall. 83.
  • Some things premised for clearing this. 84.
  • Some special threatnings instanced, with that witness the experience of Christians bea [...]s to the [...]. 85.
  • A rational demonstration of the truth & reality of God­liness, and the validity of that witness which the expe­rience of the Saints in all ages bears to the fulfilling of the Scripture, from several grounds held forth 95.
  • Several weighty Queries. 103.
  • The great import of this argument from experience, in seven particulars considered; and what a transport of joy and wondering this, when it is brought near to our thoughts, may cause. 105.
  • Two eminent witnesses, who have left a Seal to the Truth. 1 [...].
The II. ARGUMENT,
  • Demonstrates the certain accomplishing of the Scripture from the Church's continued Observa­tion in all ages. 119.
  • The first Branch of the argument doth witness the Scripture's verification, in those promises which concern the universal Church. As,
  • 1. That concerning the Church's continuance and preservation, and how great and marvellous a thing it is, demonstrated. 120.
  • [Page iv] 2. Her advance and increase; and how in an ordinary way this could not be without a miraculous and supernatural power. 124.
  • 3. The promise of giving the Spirit, as it respects the Church, and its accompanying the truth and doc­ [...]ine of Christ in all ages, demonstrated from clear evidences thereof. 130.
  • 4. How the Lord hath given his Church deliverance in her greatest exigences, according to the promise thereof. 136.
  • 5. That comprehensive promise of all Things working together for Good, with respect to the Church, clearly verified, in the observation of each time. 141.
  • Second branch of the argument demonstrates the ful­filling of those Scripture-threatnings, which con­cern the visible Church. 145.
  • Seven instances held forth, wherein this is made clear. 146.
  • Third Branch of the argument, Doth witness the clear verification of the Scripture in those passages of providence, with seem to the World dark and astonishing, whereat many are shaken. 154.
  • This demonstration, in 14 instances, followed out; how those convincingly verify the Scripture, and are great confirmations of the truth, whereat upon the first appearance we are ready to stumble. As [...] That with the first stirrings toward the Church's deli­very, [...] straits and trouble seem to increase. 155.
  • 2. A serious endeavour for reformation, and to pro­mote the Kingdom of Christ, meeting with great interruptions, how it confirms the Scripture. 156.
  • 3. How a great overclouding and darkness on the Church, following remarkable manifestations of the glory and power of God, do clearly verify the truth of the word. 158.
  • 4. That when judgment comes on a laud, it begins first at the best. 160.
  • [Page v] 5. That strange success which follows the worst of men sometimes in an evil course, made clear. 161.
  • 6. Those disappointments the Church oft meets with, when ordinary means seem most promi­sing. 162.
  • 7. The long continuance of a heavy afflicting rod on the Church, and what a confirmation this is of the word. 163.
  • 8. That Satan hath usually such a counterfeit of any remarkable work of God set on foot in a land, clear­ed. 164.
  • 9. The abounding of error and heresy under the Gospel, more than under the old Testament, how clearly it answers the Scripture. 165.
  • 10. Those great stirs and commotions, that oft attend the Gospel, when it breaks forth with power a land. 166.
  • 11. That men of great natural endowments are so usual opposers of the truth. 167.
  • 12. What strange judgments may befal some of the saints in their outward lot. 168.
  • 13. The gross falling of some, who have shined with a great lustre once in the Church. 169.
  • 14. The strange contingency of events in the World, and how this is not at an adventure, but clearly an­swers the Scripture. 169.
  • This further commended to our serious study, and the great concernment thereof held forth, to be observ­ing how clearly the Scripture is confirmed by these things in the way of the Lord & in the administra- of his providence, which to many seem grounds of shaking, whence they are are ready to question the truth. 171.
  • This cleared in ten instances more added, whence the godly should be more strengthned in the truth; though they seem at the first look very strange.
  • [Page vi] 1. That the Church of Christ should be so universally low, when the whole earth besides seems to be at rest. 170.
  • 2. The short-breathings of the Church, under the new Testament, that we see her lucid intervals usually of so small continuance, and how thus the Scripture is verified. 177.
  • 3. The wearing out of life and power in the Church so often with a further increase of light, and how thus the truth is confirmed. 180.
  • 4. That the great men of the earth, and those who sit in the place of judgment, are so usually the Church's greatest adversaries. 184.
  • 5. That instruments sometime eminently useful in the Church, with the change of times, should be found to change their principles, is a confirming witness also to the truth. 188.
  • 6. Mens personating godliness and the power here­of at the greatest rate, who on an after-discovery are found gross hypocrites, how it is no ground for reflecting on the truth, but should confirm it. 192.
  • 7. Those sad jars and divisions, which so frequently are seen within the Church, cleared. 195.
  • 8. That the Lord's immediate band may seem more heavy on his Church and people in suffering times, than the hand of men, considered. 198.
  • 9. To what a strange height a judicial stroke of indu­ration on the spirit of men may come, and how thus the Scripture is confirmed. 201.
  • 10. The righteous falling sometime with the wick­ed in a common judgment, whilst some notori­ous for wickedness may be seen to go to the grave in peace, cleared. 204.
The III. ARGUMENT,
  • PRoves the verification of the Scripture, in that to the view and conviction of the World it is undeniable [Page vii] obvious. P. 206.
  • In 14 Instances this demonstrated.
  • 1. That man now is fallen from that excellent state, wherein once he was formed. P. 208.
  • 2. The truth and reality of conversion, and how far this marvellous change is above nature, demon­strated. P. 210.
  • What true cause there is of wondering at this great work, and how demonstrative an argument it is of the grace of God, and truth of the Scripture, further cleared, with an addition of several evi­dences more. P. 214.
  • Three remarkable Instances of Conversion. P. 218.
  • 3. The truth of fellowship here betwixt God and the soul, and that this is no fancy or delusion, made clear to the World. P. 220.
  • 4. That the righteous is more excellent than his neigh­bour. P. 223.
  • 5. That the promised encouragement to the Godly under their sufferings for the truth, falls not to the ground. P. 225.
  • 6. That there is a conscience within men, which clearly answers the discovery of Scripture about it. P. 228.
  • A further demonstration of this truth, & how convincing a witness this is against Atheism, held forth. P. 230.
  • 7. How clearly it is made out, there is a reward for the righteous. P. 233.
  • 8. That verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth, demonstrtted to the conviction of the World, from several clear grounds. P. 236.
  • 9. That there are evil spirits, and such a diabolical power as the Scripture holds forth, witnessed. P. 245.
  • 10. The enmity betwixt the Children of God and the World held forth, and how great a witness it is to the truth. P. 248.
  • 11. That the creature is made subject to vanity, be­cause of sin, clearly demonstrated to the World, and [Page viii] the truth of the Scripture therein. P. 250.
  • 12. That the end of the righteous is peace. P. 259.
  • 13. That great truth of the soul's immortality, & how mistaken a thing it is, considered and demonstrated from some clear undeniable arguments. P. 258.
  • How great and astonishing a truth it is, and what other thoughts men would have thereof, were it rightly understood. P. 264.
  • 14. That the way of the Lord is perfect, and all his works done in judgment, held forth. P. 266.
  • This demonstration more particularly followed out; First, in the whole frame and structure of the visible Church, P. 268.
  • 2. In the conduct and administration of providence about the Church. P. 271.
  • 3. In the great work and contrivance of Redemp­tion. P. 276.
  • 4. In that marvellous order and disposal of the works of God, through the whole creation, and with what a subserviency all things are framed and directed to some special end, considered. P. 279.
The IV. ARGUMENT,
  • DEmonstrates the exact accomplishment of the prophetical part of the Scripture, & the special pre­dictions thereof, in those periods of time to which they relate.
  • Some things premised thereabout.—P. 287.
  • I. What is ALREADY fulfilled, consider'd.
  • 1. That prophecy of old by Noah concerning the flood, and its certain taking place held forth. P. 288.
  • 2. How that strange stroke and judgment on men in confounding their languages, hath clearly come to pass according to the Scripture: and how this in an ordinary way could not have been brought [Page ix] about, but the very finger of God unanswerably ma­nifest therein, demonstrated. P. 290.
  • 3. The fulfilling of that which was prophesied con­cerning the Church's delivery from Egypt. P. 294.
  • 4. What was promised about the Church of Israel's more full growth, clearly made out. P. 295.
  • 5. How the Scripture and Prophecies thereof with respect to the declining times of the Jewish Church are verified. P. 296.
  • 6. The exact performance of what by Daniel was foretold concerning the rise and fall of the Mo­narchies. P. 297.
  • 7. That greatest Prophecy, which is the intent of the whole Scripture of God, the coming of the Messias, how clearly verified to the World in the appointed time. P. 299.
  • A rational demonstration thereof, from manifest and undeniable grounds, held forth. P. 300.
  • 8. The sure performance of that remarkable Prophe­cy of the incalling of the Gentiles; and how this marvellous work, without a divine miraculous power, could not be conceived. P. 307.
  • 9. How clearly that dreadful desolating stroke on the Jews, doth verify what was prophesied about it, held forth. P. 312.
  • 10. How manifest the coming of Antichrist, and his being revealed to the World, now is in the e­vent. P. 316.
  • Some serious queries about this great adversary, held forth; to shew what an infatuation those must be under, who cannot see him, when before their eyes so clearly discovered. P. 320.
  • The Author's judgment humbly offered about the number of the beast, and the meaning of the Scrip­ture therein, with some grounds for clearing the same. P. 328.
  • 11. What was prophesied about the killing of the [Page x] witnesses, now made clear in the event. P. 332.
  • II. What of the Prophetical part of the Scripture is YET to be accomplished. P. 334.
  • 1. The full ruin of Antichrist and his kingdom. P. 335.
  • 2. The incalling of the Jews. P. 338.
  • 3. A great flourishing of the Church, both of Jews and Gentiles. P. 341.
  • 4. Satan's binding, and the Church's reign with Christ. P. 345.
  • 5. The fall and destruction of the Turkish Empire. P. 348.
  • 6. Satan's loosing, and the victory over Gog and Magog. P. 349.
The V. ARGUMENT.
  • THat we have already several grounds of confir­mation, and pledges in our hand to assure us, that what of the Scripture is to be accomplished shall be certainly fulfilled. P. 351.
  • 1. The very being of the world is one ground. P. 352.
  • 2. Those truths that are of all other most strange, are already accomplished; as about the coming of the Messias. P. 359.
  • 3. That Jesus Christ hath begun the war against An­tichrist, and the enemies of his Church. P. 361.
  • 4. That the Church's victory over Antichrist is not only begun, but in a great measure advanced. P. 367.
  • Wherein the Lord's extraordinary providence is no less discernable, than in the first planting of Christia­nity by the Apostles, proved by seven witnesses.
  • 1. The wonderful success the Gospel hath had in these last times. P. 369.
  • 2. The Church in these last times hath met with as sharp assaults of cruel and powerful enemies, as in the primitive times, shewed in several instances P. 371.
  • 3. The wonderful patience, resolution and chearful­ness of sufferers in these late times; with instances [Page xi] thereof. P. 373.
  • 4. The remarkable judgments of God on opposers of his work, of Reformation from Antichristianism, in several instances both foreign and domestick, and two more lately. P. 378.
  • 5. The large measure of the Spirit, that followed the ministry of the Gospel in these late times, P. 391. besides foreign instances, P. 392. The Work in the West of SCOTLAND about the year 1625, P. 393, and in Clidesdale about year 1630, & in Ireland about the year 1628, and thereafter, P. 394. and in Scot­land in the year 1638 and thereafter, P. 396. In­stances of particular Persons, as Mr. Welsh and Mr. Forbes, P. 397. and Mr. Rutherford. P. 398.
  • 6. That extraordinary Apostolick and Prophetick Spirit, that appeared in some ministers and others raised in these late times, P. 399 As, in SCOTLAND Mr. John Welsh, P. 400 Mr. Robert Bruce, P. 405. Mr. Davidson, P. 409. Mr. Patrick Simson, P. 412. Mr. Andrew Melvin, P. 415. Mr. Hugh Kennedy, P. 417. More of Mr. Robert Bruce, P. 418. and Mr. John Welsh, P. 422. Mr. John Scrimger, P. 426. Mr. Robert Blair, P. 427. The Laird of Raith, P. 433. Mr. James Faber, in France. P. 434 In Ire­land, Mr. Andrew Steward, P. 436. Mr. John Stew­ard, Provost of Air, P. 440. A godly Gentlewo­man, P. 442. A strange Passage of Judgment on a wicked Nobleman, P. 445.
  • 7. Those marvellous providences of God confirming the truth, since the breaking forth of the Gospel; whereof several rare particulars are mentioned, former and later, at home and abroad, P. 446.
In the APPENDIX five Inferences.
  • [Page xii]1. A Christian hath from the fulfilling of the Scripture a great advantage for his establishment. P. 469.
  • 2. There is a special debt on each Christian to bear witness to the faithfulness of God. P. 473.
  • 3. This debt lieth also on the Church, to witness the Lord's faithfulness, and on every age. P. 479.
  • 4. It is a duty to discern the times, and enquire seri­ously thereabout. 487.—(1.) What is the present state of the Church. 488.—(2.) What the present signs of the times seem to point at, 493,—(3.) To discern the particular snares and hazards of the time. 503.—(4.) What at such a time can the righteous do. 510
  • 5. The Scripture-truths, as they are great & marvel­lous, they are also in the evidence of their verifica­tion so clear and obvious, as may convince the greatest Atheist. 517.

ERRATA.

Pag. 23. lin. 24. blot out the Colon. P. 24. l. 11. r. Righteousness: that—P. 25. l. 31. r. Contemplate, the P. 29. l. 26. r. us: how—P. 33. l. 18. r. vail! When P. 43. l. 23. r. The truth—P. 50. l. 18. r. ply with—P. 51. l. 26. r. Devices—P. 53. l. 17. r. better than that—P. 61. l. 32. r. 16, 26.—P. 67. l. 16. r. true, real—P. 83. l. 12. r. met with—P. 84. l. r. Sluth-hound—P. 86. l. 16. r. deserting—P. 90. l. 14. r. De­fection—P. 91. l. 6. r. another Rod—P. 102. l. 12. r. Antidote—P. 106. l. ult. r. cause to—P. 107. l. 22. r. Sight—P. 111. l. 10. r. EYPHKA—P. 120. l. 33. for discouraged, read destroyed.—P. 122. l. 1. r. 3. We P. 138. l. 30. for that, read hath—P. 393. l. 29. r. sin) P. 408. l. 31. r. virtute—P. 422. l. 28. r. Town.

Other Escapes are lest to the Candour of the intel­ligent Rea [...]r.

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The Fulfilling OF THE SCRIPTURE.

THERE are two Means by which the blessed Majesty of GOD hath chosen to reveal himself to the sons of men, his WORD and his WORKS: which may be called the two great Lumi­naries, for giving Light to the Church, though the one be greater, I mean doth more clearly shine forth, yea, doth communicate light to the other. These, men must not divide, which by so strait a tye the Lord hath joined, and by a mar­vellous correspondence hath set the one over against the other, that it may be easy to see his faithfulness, and the accomplishment of the Scripture therein: and indeed this [...] a great concerning truth, that calleth for a serious study, the solid perswasion of which should afford a sweet ground of repose, and rest for the soul, though the earth were all in a combus­tion round about, and give a satisfying answer to our most sollicitous thoughts and fears. Now this this being the intended subject of the following dis­course, I shall first touch it a little in the general, [...] then hold forth some more particular grounds, whence it may be clearly demonstrated.

[Page 2] I. That the Scripture of God hath a certain Accom­plishment here in the World, and what is to be under­stood by the same, I shall endeavour to clear in these things, which would be considered.

1. This is the very unfolding of the Lord's decree, and secret purpose, the bringing forth of his work, now within time, to the view of Angels and Men, which was before him in the deep of his thoughts, and Counsel from eternity; it is an opening up of the sealed Book, which we must not understand to be that secret Roll of Election, and the Book of Life, wherein the Names of the Elect are writ; but Liber fatidicus, the sealed Book of God's Dispensations in the World, shewing out his Counsels, and Designs, which should be brought forth in the After-ages of Time: for as the Lord did fully comprehend what he was to do, and all that was to befal his Church, and People from the Beginning to the End, long before there was a Be­ginning, before the Mountains were formed, so hath he copied, and written out his Heart in the Word about the same, wherein he hath most plainly shewed forth, what were his blessed Purposes, and Counsel of old; and thus the Thoughts of his Heart, his Word and his Works do sweetly agree, and each one won­derfully answers to another. For his Work doth bring forth, and accomplish his Word, that his Decree and Counsel from all Eternity may take Place.

2. The Scripture's Accomplishment is the Transcript and Writing of it over in Providence: where we may see and admire how the Word doth shine upon all the Paths and Footsteps of the Lord toward his Church in every Age, and gives Light to the same, and what an evident Reflection his Work hath again upon the Word; so that through the whole Series and Course of Providence in the Earth, we have a most exact Por­traiture, and Image of the Scripture, answering one to another as Face answers to Face in the glass, where [Page 3] it may be easy to discern the copy by the principal, and that Resemblance which is betwixt the Building, and that excellent pattern, and Model, which is held forth thereof in the Word.

3. The Accomplishment of the Scripture is the very turning that, which was the Object of our Faith and Contemplation, to be the Object of our Sense and Feel­ing: it is the real Birth, and bringing forth these Truths unto the World in their appointed Time and sea­son concerning the Church, and particular Christi­ans, which were hid in that Womb of the promise, and many dark Predictions of the Word; it is such a Thing as giveth the Promises and Prophecies, a vi­sible Being, yea bringeth Truth so near within the Reach of our Senses, that we may even touch, as it were, and handle the Words of Life. O what an excellent In­terpreter is Experience! Taste and see: for thus the se­rious Christian getteth a View of the Scripture, and spiritual Things, which the most subtil, and piercing Eye of unsanctified Schoolmen cannot reach, yea, by the Practice of Truth, Nearness to God, and retiring of the Soul to him, hath oft got more Light in an Hour, than others by many Days putting their Judgement and Invention upon the Rack.

4. This is God's own Seal, which he putteth to the Word to confirm and ratify the same; I do not only mean that secret Seal of the Spirit within, but some­thing more external, that solemn Testimony of his Works, whereby he doth every Day appeal to Men's Consciences about his Truth: for his Works are very manifest, whereon there is so clear an ingraving of his Truth and Faithfulness, that as the Impress and Image of the seal is upon the wax, men may also see whose superscription and image that is, which doth appear on such, and such passages of providence.

5. This is something we are not to seek only in the extraordinary acts of providence, or in any singular [Page 4] and eminent path of a Christian's experience; nay, it doth shine forth in the smallest and most casual things that fall out, yea in every Page of that great Volume of Providence may it be clearly read.

6. The Scripture's accomplishment is such a thing as concerns every Christian in his personal case; to which his ordinary experience doth relate; whereof such have a large register, what of the Word hath been certainly proved in the several steps and changes of their life, whose practice doth much lie betwixt im­provement of the Word, and observation how it is fulfilled: such can witness, how under a spiritual decay to be carnally minded is death, and when its well, what great peace they have who love God's Law: they have oft found, that in a strait he is a very present help, and in the way of duty that it's surely good to draw near to him; [...] in the close of their life, can from many remarkable and convincing providences de­clare the truth, and faithfulness of God. And truly whilst I speak here, of the Christian's experience, I think it's sad, and a great short-coming, that there is not a more serious improvement of it for this end: which is a very concerning duty on such who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and O what an excel­lent addition would this be to their will or testament, when they are to leave the World, to leave a testimony behind them to the faithfulness of God in his Word and promise, and thus put their seal to the same, from what they have oft proved by sure experience! For this should prove a singular help to strengthen others, and spread abroad the fame and good report of reli­gion: yea, thus one generation should declare the works of the Lord to another, and transmit the memo­ry of his goodness to succeeding ages.

7. This is something which not only the Christian's experience doth witness, and in every time taketh place but hath also a peculiar reference to those ages, and [Page 5] periods of times, wherein such particular truths should have their accomplishment. For its true, that the Prophets of old did not only in their predictions hold forth in general, the truth and certainty of those things, which should fall out: but they also in­quired and searched diligently about the time; to what or what manner of time the Spirit by them did point. I Pet. I. II.—For 'tis truly clear, that a piece of the Word was under the Law to have its peculiar ac­complishment; that part of it also under the Messia's Kingdom, in the days of the gospel should be ful­filled, and we find a very concerning part thereof be­longs to these latter times. And there is betwixt such periods of time and revolution of the Church's case, and the bringing forth of such a piece of the Scripture to a performance, a very certain and undoubted connec­tion. 'Tis true, we do not yet well understand (which will be one of the last manifestations the Church shall have, at the end of time, when the mystery of God is finished) how to sort the event exactly to the Word: but it is sure (and were worthy of our study and ob­servation) how every age hath something of the Scrip­ture peculiar thereto, yea carrieth forward the Lord's work and design a further step. May we not see how one age fulfilleth such a piece of the Church's suffer­ings appointed for her, and puts some great trial and sad persecution over her head, which she was to meet with; whilst another age carrieth he [...] thorow an other change, and giveth her a time of rest and breath­ing? How such a time bringeth Antichrist forward to his height, and such a following age begins the turn of the Church's case? Yea, every several period and revolution of time, still addeth something, to that excel­lent history of the Word and Providence, which we have since the beginning, and bringeth forth something further into the world, of the Lord's counsel and design about his Church.

[Page 6] 8. The accomplishing of the Scripture is such a thing, we are to look after, in a special way here, which concerns this militant and traveling condi­tion of the Church: for if the Scriptures were once fully accomplished, and the great mystery of God therein finished, there were then nothing more to do, his work of providence were at an end, and time should be no more. This is something, that is not here perfected at once, but is still gradually car­rying on, and then shall be compleat at the resurrec­tion of the just, and second coming of the Lord, which is the last part of Canonical Scripture to be made out, when both his work and his word, and time, shall be all finished together; but while the saints are yet by the way, they have the written word and all those precious promises therein, for present use and encouragement. For that is its proper work, to take them safe thorow this labyrinth of the world, and when it hath brought them to land, it hath no more to do; there will be then no more need for a Christian to go to a promise, and adventure upon it; we shall then no more watch, with the watchmen in a dark and stormy night, and hope for the breaking of the day: faith then shall not be at a stand, how such a word shall be made out, because of invincible diffi­culties in its way; no, th [...] it hath done its work, and that which is written shall be swallowed up, in that which is seen and enjoyed, all the streams of our encouragement will then lose themselves in a greater depth. O then its finished and done, what all the pro­mises, prophesies, and threatnings of the Word were bringing forth: and then no more need of something as a pledge and earnest in hand, to them who have the full possession of the inheritance, & under whose feet the God of peace hath trod Satan and all their ene­mies.

[Page 7] 9. I shall add this, the accomplishment of the Scripture is something, which is not only demon­strated to a Christian by sensible influences, and God's secret working with his Spirit, but is made out to the observation of men, in the way of providence; and not only witnessed by that internal evidence of the Spirit, but by an external testimony, which both ra­tionally holdeth this out to the judgment, and sen­sibly to the sight and experience: and this is the stron­gest and most full of all outward evidences, since the world must shut their eyes if they do not see it, and a Christian must deny what he both seeth and feeleth, if he deny a witness to this.

II. We would consider the accomplishment of the Scripture, as that which is the Lord's peculiar work and design in the World, and that great business which is upon the wheels of providence amidst the various changes and revolutions, which are here within time, for bringing about whereof the blessed thoughts of his heart are fixed and unalterable. This is indeed a grave and serious truth, worthy to be more noticed and laid to heart by men, that the glorious providence of God, which goeth throughout the earth, and doth particularly reach all things which come to pass, the smallest as well as the greatest interests of men, in all these doth move certainly and infallibly for the ac­complishing of the Scripture, which is that great thing God hath before his eyes: for it is no personal interests of men, how great so ever they be, that can answer this end; it is something beyond the setting up of Kings, or overturning Kingdoms and Nations, that he doth mind amidst these various changes, which are in the World; 'tis some greater thing, than that which we most notice, the Lord thereby designs, how such a party is advanced, and others brought low, for these things come within the reach of his care and [Page 8] providence, in so far as the fulfilling of the Scripture is therein concerned,—the outmaking of the promises, and threatnings: one syllable whereof he doth more va­lue than all the Crowns and Kingdoms of the earth, yea will not let it fall to the ground, tho' it should be at the rate of laying cities and countries desolate. For it's in this the Lord taketh pleasure, and exerciseth his blessed tho'ts, even the bringing about what he hath spoken in his Word.

Now to clear this further, I shall hold forth these following grounds, whence it may appear.

First, The fulfilling of the Scripture, or written Word, is so great a thing, and of such Concernment, that the blessed Majesty of God thought it worthy of a place in his heart from all eternity. This was be­fore him in his thoughts and counsels of old; even that marvellous work, which should be the after-product, and outmaking of his Word to his Church here within time, and surely was such a plot and contrivance, that as no less than infinite love, wisdom and power, were required to bring it about, so it was well becoming the Majesty of God, and worthy to be the work of all the three blessed persons of the Trinity. O if we could go down a little into this deep, and see the won­ders that are there, we should find, that knowledge which usually lesseneth our admiration of other things, would heighten it here: it would be new to us every day to think how great and marvelous a thing that is which the Word is bringing forth.

2. It is upon this, even the Performance of the Word, that the present encouragement, and future blessedness of the saints doth lie. For the great interest of the Church is adventured upon the Word, and em­barked with it, which would be lost; yea their stock and treasure which is laid up in heaven, and all that a Christian is worth, which is laid up in the promise, were then perished,—if the Scripture should want an [Page 9] accomplishment: the godly man hath then run and la­boured in vain, and those who are fallen asleep in Christ, have died in a sad delusion: providence would be like the work of the foolish builder, who begun and knew not how to finish. O how highly then is the Lord concerned in fulfilling of his Word? That he may perfect what concerns his people, and having surely paid the price put them also in possession.

3. There is yet more than the interests of Angels and men, yea than heaven and earth is worth, that de­pends upon the outmaking of the Scripture; the glory of God, and especially the praise of that great attribute his faithfulness, which he will have no less shine forth in the performance of his Word, than his power and wisdom in this great fabrick of the universe, and these marvellous productions of nature. For he hath magnified his Word above all his works: therefore is his heart greatly set upon this, even the bringing to pass what he hath spoken; which if in the least should fail, this were no less than to make God a liar, and fal­sify his Word, who is through all the Church known by this blessed name, The God of truth.

4. We should consider this, as that great trust, which is put in his hand who only in heaven and earth was found worthy to open the Book of God's decrees and counsels, and loose the seals thereof: a trust, which the Lord did not adventure upon the Angels, the smallest promise being such as requires no less than an omnipotent power and the arm of Jehovah, to bring it about. For which end, he whom the Father hath anointed, is gone forth as a mighty man who rejoic­eth to run his race, that he may perform his Word, and execute this great design in the administration of providence, about his Church and People; which he will not cease or give over, until the mystery of God in the Scripture, and all that was spoken by the Pro­phets, be put to a close, when Heaven and Earth at the [Page 10] pouring out of the last vial, shall give that solemn shout and exclamation, It is finished, it is finished. O if this were once fully perfect, there would be no more to do; then the Winter were past, and the Summer come, the song of Moses and the Lamb should be heard, because the bride hath made her self ready, then let all the trees of the wood rejoice, the hills break forth into singing, and all that is therein be glad, because the Scripture and the great design thereof is fully finished, and the day of the perfect liberty of the Sons of God is come.

5. The accomplishment of the Scripture is of such concernment, that nothing can be done until it be once finished. For this, time must wait, the Sun must keep its course, and the ordinances of the Heaven continue as they are: the World is but a scaffold until this build­ing be perfected; for this the grave doth still retain her prisoners, and the dust of the Saints must yet rest in hope, the creation still groaneth, and the marriage-supper of the Lamb is deferred, the cry of the souls under the altar get not a full return, until all that is written in the Word be fullfilled.

6. We would consider, this is the great thing which the Lord this day is carrying on, even the accomplish­ment of his Word. For this is most brought upon de­bate, of any thing besides; the World challengeth it, and the hearts of the godly do oft call it in question; the Atheist scoffs at it, and sayeth, Where is the pro­mise of his coming? There are often to appearance in­superable difficulties in the way of its performance: therefore doth the Majesty of God so much concern himself in this, for bringing about of which he is in a holy way restless, and providence in an uncessant mo­tion, until he hath done that which he hath spoken in his Word. It was for this cause (that the Scripture might be accomplished) that the Word was made flesh, and he who counted it no robbery to be equal with [Page 11] God, did take upon himself the form of a servant. This is of such account in his eyes, that what time he speaks concerning a Nation or People, ere it come not to pass, he will rather put forth omnipotency, for the working of miracles, and change the very course of nature: for this, he will make the deep dry, make a way through the red Sea, and cause Jordan to stand as in heaps, that he may keep promise to his People; if there be no way for bringing about his Word, but through a Sea of blood, and over the bones and carcasses of his enemies, he will do it, and bring it to pass, though Walled Cities, and the Sons of Anak mighty and strong, should stand in the way thereof. Abraham's old age, and Sarah's dead womb, must not frustrate this: if the promise of the Church's restoration cannot be made out without a wonder shewed upon dry bones scattered at the graves mouth, this shall not be wanting; when God saith, he'll bring down the enemies of his Church, if the dust of the ground should arise, down they must come. How many great designs of men hath this blessed design (that the counsel of the Lord may stand) crushed and brok­en? so that their work and counsel hath been as the Spider's web, when it stood cross to this end. The god­ly need not fear, that he be not a present help in time of trouble: for he will keep his word herein, though the Earth should be overturned, and the Mountains cast into the midst of the Sea. O who hath resisted his counsel! What are all these vicissitudes and changes here in the World, but making way for the Scripture's accomplishment? With what desire doth he move to­wards this end? So that as in Z [...]chary 6. 8. the in­struments by him appointed for executing his judg­ment and the threatinings of the Word, it's said, they have quieted his Spirit, his decrees are mountains of brass, which are unchangeable; the thoughts of his heart take place in all generations: therefore the Word [Page 12] which is gone forth out of his mouth, shall not return empty, but the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

III. The accomplishment of the Scripture is a truth very clear and manifest, whereof none can pretend igno­rance, if they do not shut their eyes, and force their own light, from the fear of such a discovery. For the obstruction doth not lie in the darkness of the object, or that men cannot see this; since we have it so clearly held forth in great and legible characters: nay, we must say, the cause is culpable, there is much of the will in it, which renders such an ignorance without excuse. O that this should be so little lookt after, a matter of such near and weighty concernment, when there needs not an other demonstration, but come and see the works of the Lord through the earth! For he hath here so far condescended to his People, as to bring the truth near, that they even feel and handle the same: yea, he doth in a manner say to every one as to Thomas, put in your bands, touch the Word, and truth thereof, and be no longer faithless, but taste and see, that the Lord is good, and that he is true in what he hath spoken.

We are indeed to look for a more clear and full discovery of this truth, the nearer the Church is to the end of time. There is a labyrinth, as it were, of turnings and windings, through which we may see the Word oft brought, so as we lose sight thereof, and are ready to stagger about its performance: but it's as true, that the most eminent confirmations, the saints ever had of this truth, have been after greatest shakings there­about. Yea, the Lord hath in all ages, so visibly sealed his Word by its performance, that we may say, can he be a Christian and a stranger to this in his experience! or a serious on-looker on providence and the dispen­sations of the time, wherein he lives, and a stranger to it, in his observation! yea, can any be so wholly [Page 13] brutish, as not to discern a thing so clear that oft-times those who run, may read?

But to speak a little more to this, I shall here point at some things, that may shew how manifest this truth is.

1. Is it not very clear, which we see every day brings to light? A truth so conspicuous, both in God's ordinary way with his Church, and in the several steps and passages of a Christian's life! For these mercies which bring the Word and promise to pass, are new every morning, and cry aloud, if we could hear, great is his faithfulness. This is indeed tried: and needs there more, to convince a blind man, that his sight is restored to him, but that he certainly seeth? sure they never wanted confirmations here, who do but seri­ously seek to be comfirmed.

2. Is it not a clear truth, which not only is found upon the exactest tryal; but is witnessed by such who ever tryed it in their most pressing straits, and extre­mity? for it's in the darkest night this truth hath most brightly shined: and these more remarkable ventu­rous acts of faith, have they not still brought forth most convincing experiments of this truth? We may say, there is none can give a better account of the performance of the Word, then those who against hope, have believed in hope, that this never made them ashamed.

3. Is it not also clear, whereof there are such so­lemn extraordinary confirmations in all ages? For that his name is near, his wondrous works declare. I am sure, no time could ever deny its witness, how by great convincing providences, both of judgment and mercy, it hath been so sealed, as hath forced Atheists to keep Silence: no time, wherein the Church had not cause to erect a pillar, and engrave thereon, We have seen with our eyes the great and wondrous works of the [Page 14] Lord, by which he hath witnessed the truth of his Word.

4. Is it not a manifest truth, which even in the most strange, and dark footsteps of providence, so clearly shineth forth? These, which at the first look are an astonishment, and hard to be understood, yet after most clearly verify the Scripture; that whilst the Lord's way goeth out of our sight, yea, out of the ordinary road of his working, through a labyrinth of turnings, and cross dispensations, yet at length it doth evidently clear, and disintangle it self, which men may oft see break forth as the sun out of a dark cloud, that shineth the more brightly, the more at was obscured.

5. Is it not very clear, which can be demonstrated by such visible effects in these great changes of the World? For the fulfilling of the Scripture is not a thing hid in a corner, but oft published in the house­tops, that men may see legibly written, upon King­doms and Nations, the desolate ruins, and devasta­tion of cities and houses great and fair, which are made to be without inhabitants, so as those who go by may clearly read the cause, and bear that witness, Lo, there is fin visibly punished according to the Word.

6. How clear is this, which we have so evidently drawn out, and acted over in a Christian walk? For what else is the spiritual conversation of such, those visible effects and evidences of the grace of God all along a Christian's way, but a visible convincing wit­ness to the performance of the word? Have not such a very audible Echo and resound to that which is the great drift and Scope of the Scripture? where men may see the Bible turned over into a practical history, written forth, and acted on the heart, and conver­sation of the saints, as on a stage, or theatre: the Word living, speaking, moving, and clearly diffusing it self through all the veins, as it were, and conduits [Page 15] of a Christian's life; so that if the truth, and reality of the grace of God be a thing manifest, and unquestio­nable, we must also see therein the real performance of the Scripture.

7. I shall add, we may clearly see how one piece of the Scripture is nothing else but the punctual ful­filling, and accomplishment of the other: how that which was shadowed out by dark types, under the Law, and held in a Prophecy, through the Old Tes­tament, is written before our eyes in a plain, and real history in the New Testament, and that the gos­pel is only a fulfilling of the Law and the Prophets.

IV. Though it is very manifest, and by undeniable proofs can be demonstrated, that the Scripture hath a real accomplishment, and doth certainly take place, in the constant course of providence here in the World, that I am sure if men do not darken them­selves they can be no strangers to such a thing; yet we must say, This truth which most nearly concerns us, is to the most of men, (even such who seem to give a large assent to the Word) a mystery and dark riddle. There are few who do but enquire if there be such a thing, if the promises and threatnings have indeed a certain outmaking: few do seriously ponder the providences of God, in which the truth and faithfulness of the Word shineth forth, that they may thereby be fur­ther confirmed we see that to many (alas too many) the great concernments of the Law and ever­lasting happiness are a trivial and an impertinent busi­ness: this is a truth the World doth pass without regarding: such as sport at Religion, when they come to earnest here, dare not stand before this discovery; it concerneth them much to reconcile their principles with their practice, their fear begetteth hatred, and both put their wit and invention on the rack, how to dispute away any remainder of a conscience, to im­prison [Page 16] their light, and under the pretext of reason, run down godliness, and the absolute necessity there­of: yea, besides, doth not sensuality, wherein many wallow, and steep themselves, so dull and drown the soul, put such an interposition of the Earth betwixt them, and this truth, as wholly darkens it? And, oh, how sad, that many having a large profession to be Christians, scarce ever knew what it is to put the Word to an essay and trial, in the concernments of their life; to have their light followed with experi­ence, wherein the very truth and reality of Reli­gion lieth.

To clear this, I shall hold forth some things, which may shew how little this truth of the Scrip­ture's accomplishment is known, or studied by the most of men.

1. The abounding of so much Atheism, that there are many who not only disclaim the practice of that Religion they seem to profess, but do state them­selves in most direct opposition to the rules and principles thereof; these to whom the Scripture is but as a Romance, yea, who do only converse there­with to prove their wit and parts in impugning the same; who avowedly mock at the judgments, and providences of God; I confess these may be reck­oned Monsters, a very prodigy in the time, wherein they live; though, alas, it is not the least part of the World! and which is strange! [...] the most hor­rid Athiests do usually abound where the light of the Gospel hath most shined: the savage places of the Earth bring forth no such monstrous births, as are hatcht within the visible Church; for thus the judg­ment of God putteth a blacker dye on them than o­thers. O what a terrible sound would the fulfilling of the Scripture have in men's ears, if they once came to have serious thoughts thereof; since they cannot admit this, but they must certainly read their [Page 17] own sentence of death, which a few days shall put in execution; and if the Scripture be true, they are then unspeakably miserable!

2. That indifferency which we see amongst men about Religion, and the most concerning truths of scripture, doth shew how little this is known or laid to heart: whence, there is such a generation who do not professedly deny the scripture, yet can turn it over in a school-problem, and wonder that men should ingage so far upon it. It is not that it is hid from them, but they truly chuse to hide themselves from it; as more suiting that interest they drive, that the truth of God should be rather a matter of opinion than of faith, a thing which they would dispute, but not believe. But, O, what other thoughts would a clear sight of this, cause,—That within so few days the truths and threatnings of the Word shall be sad ear­nest; the fulfilling whereof no sharpness of wit, nor subtil arguments, will be able to evade!

3. That there is so much barren theory of Divine truths in the world, with so little serious Christian diligence, doth it not sadly witness how small ac­quaintance men have with this truth? Whence, we see so great a part of those who professedly acknowledge the word, and are daily conversing with it, yet can give no other account thereof, but report; so many that can satisfyingly discourse of the Scripture, could never put their seal to it, that God is true therein. Whence are so many great School-divines, and able Mini­sters for parts, such visible Atheists in their way, and practice? Is it not, they really judge Divinity and Religion, rather a science, and matter of specula­tion, than a matter of sense and feeling, which men should more live than speak, and cannot be known without experience, the true end of knowledge? But, O this cannot be found in books, men will not meet with it in a throng of choicest notions, it [Page 18] confoundeth the wise, and the disputer of this world, whilst the meanest and most simple Christian of [...] knoweth more than those of greatest parts.

4. The great Hypocrisy which is in the world, I mean within the visible Church, doth too clearly shew, that this truth is little thought on, or laid to heart. For what is that false shew, and appearance (which we may say is not a sin, but the very sinful­ness of sin) Is it not the height of Atheism? And a real contradiction in their practice, to this, that the Scripture of God is true, and will have an unquesti­onable accomplishment? O could any be so mon­strously irrational, to drive this poor plot, how to appear that which they are not, to be at such pain to act the part handsomely of a serious Christian, to personate his tears, and grief, his spiritual frame, his zeal for God, if he did think gravely on this truth, and did believe the threatnings of the Word; that they will surely take place and be within a little while no complement, but sad earnest, & that he is every hour standing under that Scripture-wo against Hypo­crites? I am sure it would make his very hair stand upright, his joynts loose, and his thighs smite upon one another, could he but seriously think upon this.

5. Those unwarrantable ways which in a time of trial men take for their escape, may witness this, that the word they do not judge a sure ground to venture on. Whence is there such hesitation in suffering times? From that day many taking their leave of Christ, who have rather chosen sin than affliction? O is it not that they judge the testimony of the God of truth is not sufficient security to carry them through such a strait, and are not fully perswaded that it must come to pass what he hath promised? For if they were, they should reckon it their greatest safety to embarque their interest on so sure a ground, and with much qui­etness [Page 19] repose their soul, and disburthen their care by putting it over on the word.

6. What doth the frequent discouragement and un­comfortable walk of the People of God speak forth? doth it not witness how little they are in earnest with this great truth of the Scripture's accomplishment, or establisht herein? What meaneth these distrust­ful fears, and perplexed complaints? If their eyes be but open to know they have such a well as the promise of God, at their hand, how is it that the smallest straits are so puzling, and ready to out­wit them, that they so usually stumble at the cross? And as things from without do appear, their encou­ragement made to ebb and flow? Is not here the cause, That they stagger at the promise, whilst pro­babilities in some visible way, do not go along for its performance? It's truely easy to have some sweet notions of faith at a distance, but whilst the trial comes near, upon such a close approach, that there is not another way, but to put the whole stress of their particular interest on the Word, and on it alone, many are then at a stand, because they are not thoro'­ly assured, that though the earth should be overturned, there is an absolute necessity for the promise of God [...] take place.

Now from these things may it not appear, that this grave truth of the Scripture's accomplishment is but little known, or studied? I confess, we may think on it with astonishment, how a matter so nearly concer­ning us is not more our work! there are indeed many things worthy to be known, but our short life can scarce allow time, or give leasure for the study there­of. But O this, though we had only two days to live, I think might require the one, to be sure and per­swaded about the truth of that whereon our hea­ven and eternal Blessedness lieth, and on which we must lay our last Hold, when we are in the passage at [Page 20] that strange step betwixt time and eternity. O what a wonder, how rational souls who walk on the bor­der of the greatest hope and fear imaginable, can yet be so unconcerned thereabout! such serious thoughts might force men to retire, and go fit alone; and truly these things gravely considered may seem strange and hard to reconcile.

1. That there is such a thing as the very Word and Testimony of God this day upon record, where­with we have so much to do, which doth offer itself to men's trial, and exactest search; and yet we put it so little to that touchstone, that we may know it upon an other account, than report or hear­say.

2. How in a matter of such high importance as sal­vation through all eternity, and the ground of this hope, m [...] should take the truth on an implicit faith, or satisfy themselves with a common assent there­to, as though it were enough to witness our believing the same, because we did never doubt or call it in question: I am sure, men would not be so lax, and so easy to satisfy, in the most common interest they have here in the World.

3. How can men render to others a reason of their hope, when it is enquired, who did never ask a reason of this at themselves? or will those seal the truth with their blood, who never had it sealed upon their heart by experience?

4. Whence is it that men can have comfort in Scripture, who are not well grounded in the faith there­of? Indeed those who are solidly perswaded about the truth, and its certain out-making, may have much joy and peace; whilst they know, the ground of their confidence can bear up any stress or burden they lay upon i [...] And for what end did the Lord witness the certainty of his Word by two immutable things, wherein 'tis impossible for him to lie, but that from so [Page 21] sure and strong a ground, his People might have strong consolation?

5. How can any think to adventure their immor­tal soul upon that, whereon they fear to venture an outward interest? or put over their dearest things into his hand and keeping, who could never say, they know in whom they believed?

6. May it not seem strange, that men can believe a certain performance of the Word and promises, and not be more deeply affected therewith? O is this true, shall it surely come to pass, and not one jot thereof fall to the ground! and should it not cause us to awake in the night, and ever bear us company? Ought we not to think our selves at a sad pass, that day, wherein we take not a turn in the meditation of divine truths, if we be sure that these must take place?

7. I would add, if this be indeed the Scripture of God, which surely hath an accomplishment, O how is it we are so little Christians? Why doth men's walk so sadly jar with so great an hope? What manner of per­sons should those be, that are perswaded, within a little time these heavens must pass away as a scroll, the ele­ments melt with fervent heat, and the earth be burnt up? I think, if this will not press home on men, to be fervent and diligent, they must be in a very sad leth­argie.

V. The accomplishment of Scripture is a most clear, and undeniable witness of its divinity; that it is his Word, who is not like man to lie, or the son of man to repent, and hath this as its distinguishing character, that not one syllable thereof falls to the ground: This is the undoubted priviledge of God, and of him alone, to foresee things contingent, which are many ages after to fall out, & have no dependence upon necessary, and natural cause [...]; and truly, this may be a convincing argument, yea, we may say, of all external testimo­nies [Page 22] is the greatest; but it's strange to think what a ge­neration there is, who can sport at the Scripture, and question the truth thereof! who yet did never once se­riously enquire if such a thing be true, else so clear a witness might stare them in the face. Such a party we should look on with compassion. It's also sad to think at how poor a rate, far below their allowance, many of the Saints do here live, because there is so little of that excellent and more noble Spirit, to search the Scripture for their further comfort and establishment thereby.

It is true, this blessed record doth bear witness to it self, and is known by its own light: whereon there is such a visible impress of the glorious God, such convincing marks of its true descent, as may throughly shew whose it is, and how far it exceeds all human invention; and thus by a clear manifesta­tion of the truth, doth commend it self to men's con­sciences, as a safe ground whereon they may repose their soul. It is also clear, how wonderfully the Scripture hath been preserved, and the original copies thereof kept through all ages, that what ever small variation there may appear as to some Apiculi, which in some places hath caused diverse readings, yet in any necessary, or saving truth, the greatest Criticks will confess they do not in the least vary: and it is known (wherein we are to adore that special provi­dence of God) that the Jewish Church, to whom this sacred depositum was delivered, did with such exact and singular care look to the same, even in the least tittle, or letter thereof; this being the great work and study of the Mazorites, from one age to an­other, to see to the preserving of that great record, from being in the least vitiated or corrupted; and the greatest adversaries of the truth cannot possibly deny that agreement betwixt those many original copies, in the whole substance, which may be very convin­cing [Page 23] to the World. And do not men see, how marvel­ous the whole frame of the Scripture is? What a correspondency betwixt all the parts thereof, that no­thing in it doth in the least vitiate the proportion and beauty of the work, but it has all along an evident ten­dency to advance holiness & conform the soul to God. With a wonderful consent and harmony in answering to this great end, we see the simplicity, and plainness of its style, yet backt with a convincing Majesty, and authority upon the conscience; yea, besides, it hath been attested by miracles, that were great in them­selves, famous in their time, transmitted to the Church in after-ages, with unanswerable evidences of their truth; that not only the witness of the Word, but other pressing and rational grounds may let us see there could be no deceit, or imposture therein.

These are a great testimony to the truth: but I may say on very sure ground, that, next to that great wit­ness of the Spirit, there is no argument more convin­cing to reach Atheism a stroke, and throughly satis­fy an exercised spirit, who may be plunged about this great thing, the authority of the Scripture, than a clear discovery of its performance whilst under the assault of such a temptation: if this be the very word of God, they may but retire within, & then turn their eyes abroad in the World, to see what a visible im­press of the Word is stamped on every piece of the work, and providence of God. Now for further clea­ring I would offer these few things.

1. The accomplishment of the Scripture is a very publick testimony from Heaven to its divinity, whilst the Lord by his works through the earth, which are done in the view of Angels & men, doth solemnly avow that this is his Word. For we must say, his work within on the hearts of his People, & without about the Church, is such, whereat men, yea all the magi­cians of the earth, may stand amazed, and confess that [Page 24] nothing less than a divine almighty power can ac­complish the same.

2. This gives in the witness of all the generation of the righteous: who from the beginning have proved the truth thereof, yea, 'tis sealed by the blood of many excellent Christians, some of whom though they could not well dispute for it, yet had so strong a demon­stration of the power of the truth within, as made it an easy work to die for the same.

3. This doth clearly shew, the Scripture is an un­changeable rule of righteousness that alters not; but takes place in all ages, whence such as are wise to bring providence in to the Word, and compare the experience and remarks of one time with another, may have a great reach, & be thus led in a sure path, as to the foreseeing of events.

4. This also doth demonstrate, that it is his Word, who doth rule and guide the World, and hath a sove­reign dominion over the same: whilst we may here see such remarkable events, which both in the present and in former times have fallen out, as may shew a power, that can reach the greatest with a stroke, shake the most established Kingdoms, and even over the belly of insuperable difficulties, accomplish the Word; yea, that surely the Spirit of the wheels which moves them, is from him whose Word this is. For it is not more clear, that these curtains of the Heavens are stretcht forth over the earth, than that the Scrip­ture is stretcht out over the whole work and frame of providence: so as that all the motions and steps thereof, even of the most casual things that fall out, have a visi­ble tendency to accomplish those ends which the Scripture hath held forth.

5. This clearly sheweth, it must be his Word, who hath foreseen all things that were to befal the Church, and the various changes and adventures of every Chri­stian's life through time: whilst it is so wonderfully [Page 25] shaped and suited to every new trial of the church, as if intended only for that time, and to every case of a godly man, as though it had been alone writ for them.

6. This also sheweth, that he who is the author of the Scripture, and hath framed that admirable piece, must have some immediate correspondence with the Spirit of man, knoweth our sitting down, and rising up, yea, doth search the heart and the reins. For experience can tell how the Word is directed to the heart, doth reach the most inward contrivances there­of, doth so clearly reveal and open up a Christian to himself, that we may say, of a truth he is the God of the Spirits of all flesh, and one greater than our heart, whose it is.

7. I shall further add, the fulfilling of the Scrip­ture in the experience of the Saints doth shew, it is nor a dead letter, but hath power, and life; and there must be an enlightning quickning Spirit, that surely goeth along with the same. This clearly demon­strates something above words, yea, above nature, in the written Word, that can make such a change upon the soul, give life to the dead, open the eyes of the blind, yea, can turn a lump of earth, that former­ly tended downward, now without any violence to move, from a principle of life towards God, as the sparks flee upward.

VI. The accomplishment of the Scripture is a most pleasant, and truly delectable subject, worthy of our serious thoughts, and study. For here is held out the highest truth, for the judgment to contemplate the truth and faithfulness of God in the Word; and here is also the greatest good for the affections to embrace, and delight in, as that wherein our whole happiness is certainly wrapt up. It is undeniable, that it is the godly man, who knoweth best what true and solid [Page 26] pleasure is; which he doth not lose, by turning his heart from the creature to God, but maketh a blessed exchange. O, how far do the joys and delights of the soul exceed these of the senses! And the delight of a Christian, how far doth it surpass that of a natural man, even in his best estate! and sure, this precious study of the daily performance of the Word, is one of these paths of pleasure, which would bring in more solid joy to the spirit in some few hours, than some years wallowing in the carnal delights of the flesh, which is but as pleasure in sport, but quickly turn­eth to grief in earnest. It is one of the great mistakes of the World, that religion tends so much to sadden and disquiet the Soul; nay, it is certainly the want of this, because we are so little truly religious. When we shuffle over our duty, and take but a passing look of the ways and work of God in the World, then it is indeed very affrighting, and unpleasant; but when in a more Christian way, we do seriously look thereupon, and get our heart near God, taking the Word along with us, O how delightful, and ravishing a sight will this be! I truly think, though there were not a command, though it were no duty, nor such advantage in the study of this grave truth, yet that joy and refreshment, which the soul would find in such a diligent search, in going down into this bles­sed deep, should invite us thereto.

But when I speak of this, what a sweet, and de­lightful subject, the performance and outmaking of the Scripture is, it must be understood, that it is so only to the saints: and it is no wonder; the World keep at such a distance from it; for this is a truth they can not bear, they hate it, which (as Micajah) doth pro­phesy alway hard things, and carrieth a message of death to them; a serious View of this truth, to un­godly men, is as the handwriting upon the wall before them, which doth foretel their approaching ruin, and [Page 27] should cause them all to tremble; the knowledge whereof must encrease their sorrow, and disquietness, yea, cause them to cry out, O, do not torment us before the time. For they are surely undone, and ruined, if the Scripture of God be true, and hath a performance. But, O what pleasant and refreshful tid­ings, doth this carry to a Christian! What a sweet view doth he here get of the inheritance, and blessed estate of the saints, which may cause such an excla­mation, How great is that goodness, which is laid up for those that fear thee!

To demonstrate this, I shall hold out some things, from which we may see how delightful a subject the accomplishment of the Scripture is, for a Christian to study.

1. Serious converse with this grave truth leadeth forward to practice, and thus helpeth to bring down theory to experience: which is the most sweet, and desirable of all other demonstrations, that we can have of the truth of the Scripture, and maketh our light clear, and pleasant to the eyes, turning the exercise of our judgment and reason thereabout, into sense and feeling; we are then made to see what a difference there is, betwixt that discovery [...] a spiritual man (whose religion is his practice) hath of this, and the cold winter-light of natural understanding, that hath no heat or warmth therewith; which is as great a difference, as betwixt hearing of such a thing by re­port, and seeing it with our eyes.

2. This blessed study, how the Scripture hath cer­tain accomplishment, would help us to read the Word with an other kind of pleasure. O, what represen­tation should then the truths and promises thereof have to the godly man? It would be as one going in to look over his charters, and the great things therein contained, which he doth not in the least debate, or ques­tion, since they are past the seals, and fully ratified, [Page 28] and now considereth all which is promised, as his own, which he lookt in former times upon, but as a com­mon thing, whilst he made not earnest of the certainty thereof, and what an interest he had in the same. O, when he readeth that promise of a new heaven and earth, & that glorious estate which abideth the Saints; He cannot turn his eyes & thoughts so easily off it, but is made to stand, and wonder, that so great a thing, that will make such a marvellous change in his con­dition, is even shortly to come to pass! How sweet and pleasant is it, for such an one to turn over the promises, who can set to his seal, and bear this witness, that he hath as really prov'd the truth thereof by sure ex­perience, as he knoweth he hath a real being! Surely the Bible is an other thing to these, than it is to the greater part of men, who only make it the subject of their contemplation.

3. In this blessed study we should have much bro't to our hand to observe, and our observation made sweet, and pleasant to us. For there we might see how all the paths of the Lord towards his People are mercy and truth: this would give us a refreshing diary of providence; how in such a plunging strait we found the [...] sensibly sealed; what observable confirmations we have had therewith, at such a time and in such a condition; the after-recounting of which in an hour of trial, or in the evening of our life, would exceed the greatest pleasures, the men of this World can have, in looking over their gold and greatest treasures, which for many years they have been laying up.

4. In the serious study of the daily accomplishing of the Scripture, we should have a most satisfying view and prospect of what God is doing up and down the earth; what purposes and designs he hath on foot; and how things here beneath do work toge­ther for carrying on of the same. We should see what [Page 29] in excellent and curious piece of work this frame of providence is, which the more it is considered, it will be the more a wonder; how perfect in all its various colours; what an observable concurrence there is here; how several discords, which we see here, do yet agree with one consent, for the com­pleating of God's design, which is still going on: and whilst we think there must be some disorder a­mongst the wheels, we are made after to see that this confusion was an excellent step of providence, confounding the wisdom of men; every piece of his way being so knit to another, as discovers to such who make this blessed truth their serious study, a most rare contexture, beyond the reach of the greatest artists that ever was. Here also we might go up to that [...] tower of Christian observation, and from thence take a grave view of God's way, and lay his work in the World to the scripture as the measuring line; where we should see (and find the sight thereof very pleasant) how the Word every day takes place, doth issue through all the veins and arteries of provi­dence, each line whereof is so exactly drawn, as by a pencil in some skilful hand, to that great exemplar of the Scripture. Here we might discern those eminent examples of judgment and mercy, that in every age are set before us how wicked men prosper for a time, yet have a dreadful issue, and are suddenly cast into destruction; they spread as a green bay tree, and within a little time their place cannot be found; also [...]ow the godly are oft sore afflicted, yet flourishing as the palm-tree, and the more they are depressed, the more they grow:—how the enemies of the Church are oft lifted up, for a sorer fall; and the Church brought [...]ow, in order to her greater enlargement:—how judg­ment findeth out sinners, and is oft exactly propor­tioned in measure and kind to the sin; and on the other hand how integrity is sore tossed oft, yet still falleth [Page 30] upon its feet, and overclouded that it may shine more brightly after: How the threatnings of the Word do visibly overtake Kingdoms and Nations, bring down great houses, cause those brought up in scarlet to em­brace the dung-hill, and oft let not the hoary head of cruel and wicked men go into the grave in peace: and again to consider how the Lord forsaketh not his People, but sheweth respect to their way; the good man walketh in his integrity, and his seed after him is blessed. O, how sweet an exercise were this for a Christian, even to lose himself in!

5. From thence we might in a great measure dis­cern what of the night it is with the Church: if there be any evidences that it is near day; and what such a sinful case doth threaten; we should be skilful to feel the Churches pulse, and thereby find what symptoms there are of life or death and perceive a dark cloud of judgment advancing, when it is but like an hand­breadth. Surely this study would make us wise to know the times, and what we ought to do therein; for amongst those various events which fall out in every age, the Lord's way is constant with itself, and with his truth, if we be right Observers.

6. Here we should have a most pleasant and clear view, how the Scripture of God comprehendeth the whole state of the Church, from the beginning to the end of time: that it is a most full, and perfect re­gister of all the vicissitudes and alterations, which are to go over her head, whilst in a militant condition; and doth also most exactly point out those occurren­ces, and remarkable events, which fall out in the or­dinary way and course of providence, that we may read them as evidently in the Word, as we see them with our eyes fall out in the World. For in follow­ing this study, we should clearly see how the Scripture bringeth the Church to light, out of the womb of an eternal decree, and doth trace it from the first promul­gation [Page 31] of the Gospel after the fall, through these dark times before the flood, whilst it was but in families, and through that long trial in Egypt, and all its set­led and flourishing condition in Canaan, and carrieth her for-ward through all the several changes of her case, under her following decay, and in the time of the captivity, even to the manifestation of Christ, and dawning of the gospel: and as it thus taketh in within its reach the whole estate and the special events, which did befal the Church under the Law, so we may see how the Scripture also followeth the Church, through the whole time of the gospel, and bringeth her as a grain of mustard-seed from a day of small things, until it bring her to perfection, taketh her as it were by the hand from her infancy, and goeth with her through all the turnings of her condition; through that long and dark night of Antichrist's reign, pointeth clearly out her condition, and various assaults that she should endure in that time, and that blessed victo­ry which she should afterwards have, though not all at once, but gradually, over her enemies; and that the Word and the Church do never part, but one walketh step for step with the other, until it bring her safe to land, and as it were put her off its hand and guard, at the coming of Christ.

7. This would also help us to sweet thoughts, and give us matter of a song in the saddest night of the Church's condition. When we see how God's great design in the World is the accomplishing of the Scrip­ture, and know that his ends which he hath held forth therein, cannot be frustrated, it would serve to silence all our complaints, with wondering at God's way, and triumphing in the works of his hands: we should not then be afraid of evil tidings; a stormy time would not outwit us; being perswaded that though the earth should be overturned, it shall be surely well with the righteous, the Church must flourish, [Page 32] and all her enemies be found liars, because he is faith­ful that hath promised, whose Word will as surely come to pass, as the sun doth return after a dark night.

VII. It doth now more specially concern the godly in these latter times, to study this great truth of the accom­plishment of the Scripture, and set about a serious in­quiry and search therein, as a truth that shall yet be in a further measure discovered, and opened up, the nearer the Church is to the end of time: which may thus appear.

1. Herein is the Word express, that one piece of the Scripture, which from former ages was sealed up, should in the latter days be clear, and easy to understand. Dan. 12. 4▪ 9. The seal is there put on; but go thy way Daniel, for these Words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. But, Rev. 22. 9. We have that bar taken of, Seal not the sayings of the Prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand; because then the time did draw near, to which a more full discovery and opening of the Scrip­ture was reserved, and a more large manifestation of the spirit beyond former ages. Now by the last days, we are not only to understand the whole time of the gospel, though it is thus termed in the Scrip­ture, but the latter part of these last times, which is more especially pointed at, even the close and even­ing of time, that last Epocha, and period of prophe­tick chronology, to which a greater accomplishment of Scripture-Prophecies is reserved.

2. This also is expresly promised that in the latter days, the Church shall have a more full discovery of this truth, how the Scripture is verified, Dan. 12. 4. Many shall run to fro, and knowledge shall be increased; which increase, as it clearly pointeth at the last times, and that bright day the Church shall have, when Israel shall be brought in to [Page 33] Christ, it doth also point at and promise some grea­ter light, and a more full opening up of the myste­ries of the word, and fulfilling thereof: For the former part of the Chapter sheweth, that increase of know­ledge doth relate to those things which were before sealed. We wait and believe the further accomplish­ment of this promise to the Church, beyond all we have yet seen; that many Scripture-truths, now dark and abstruse, shall be made so clear, as shall even cause us to wonder at the gross mistakes we once had there­of, yea, that after-generations shall have a discovery and insight into some Prophecies now obscure, which shall as far exceed us, as this time doth go beyond former ages, which comparatively we must say were very dark. O! when that promise of the in-calling of the Jews shall once take place, what a won­der will they be to themselves, that their understand­ing should have been under such a vail, when the truth shall be clear, and evident to them in that day! Will it not be a sweet and easy work, for the godly to sort together the predictions of the Word, and the events? And truly there is much now wrapt up in Scripture-Prophecies, not yet fulfilled, which (we may say) in aftertimes, when the event shall unvail their meaning, will exceed, yea, confound all those comments, many have had upon them.

3. Is it not also clear, that those Prophecies, which of all the Scripture were most obscure, and overcloud­ed with dark figures and allegories, concerning which there had been such mistake and hesitation by the Church, so many perplexing queries, have a peculiar respect to the last times? And that then they shall be made plain, and easy, when so notable a key, as the event doth open them up; such as those of the wit­nesses recovering life, and rising again, Babylon's fall and ruin, Christ reigning with his Saints a thousand Years, which now are in some measure already cleared, [Page 34] from their begun accomplishment, beyond former times; but we wait for a more full commentary, that time shall give upon the same.

4. It is in the latter times, that the glory of God in his truth and faithfulness, shall most eminently shine forth. That is a part of the solemn congratulation of the Church upon Babylon's fall, Rev. 15. 3. not only Great and marvellous are thy works, but, just and true are thy ways. For truly in this stroke of the judg­ment of God, and those remarkable providences con­curring therewith, the fulfilling of the Scripture will be so plain and undeniable, that we may say, it will then dazel the eyes of men, even greatest Atheists, alarm the World, yea very effectually contribute (we have ground so to judge) to that promised encrease of the Church, and incoming of the Jews, when in Antichrist's fall and ruin they shall see so convincing a seal put to one of the most considerable Prophecies of the Word; in the accomplishment whereof much of the Prophetick part of the New-Testament, relat­ing to the Church's state, and her long trial under Antichrist's reign, may be seen clearly verified.

5. The Lord hath reserved his greatest Works to the latter days, wherein his judgments shall be mani­fest, and the Word confirmed by such solemn con­vincing providences, that men will not get them passed without a remark: we are this day witnesses to many such, and are looking what these times shall yet bring forth, that the great and remarkable acts of the Lord must force the World to see a divine power; and say, lo, there is an undoubted accomplishment of the Scripture.

6. The Church in these last Times hath peculiar advantages, for understanding this truth of the Scrip­ture's accomplishment, which former ages had not. 1. A great part thereof is now fulfilled, that men may see with their eyes, if they but know how to lay the [Page 35] Word and Work of God together. The Christian Church had in former times but dark glances at these great things, which we have this day visibly trans­cribed in providence; the promises were then tra­velling in birth of that which is now brought forth. 2. Are we not mounted, as it were, on the shoul­ders of that experience and observation of former times, which hath been transmitted to us? and we must say upon that account, the Church hath now a greater seal and confirmation of the truth, then what it had in the days of the Prophets, and the Apostles, even when Christ was in the flesh. 3. The Temple of God and Ark of his Testament is now opened in Heaven, light more fully abounding, and the means of knowledge. And, O! should not this be much our study, who have a greater talent than former ages! cer­tainly this will be a sin of a deeper dye, than in times of ignorance; since we can be no strangers to this truth, without shutting our eyes, blinding the con­science, doing violence to our light, when the Lord doth give his People such solemn confirmations.

7. I shall add, is it not clearly foretold in that Dan. 12. 4. that in the last times this will be one of the special exercises of the saints to enquire, and make a diligent search concerning the Scriptures accom­plishment? For it's there said, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased; importing, that this shall be much their study, and cause a dili­gent search, whereunto the great works of God in these times shall invite them: And what should be the posture of the Godly in these days, on whom the end of the world is come? should it not be like the watchman in the last-watch of the night, who looketh oft what appearance there is from the east of the day breaking? a serious enquiry what of the Scripture is fulfilled, whereby we may know on very clear grounds, [Page 36] if the night be far spent, the day at hand, & that the coming of the Lord to judgment draweth near.

VIII. This is a great, and concerning duty for Christians to study this truth, that they may have something more than Report, how the Scripture hath a sure accomplish­ment, and doth take place in the providences of the time wherein we live. I must think it strange, that there is such a great help as this, so near, and yet we see it not, nor do seriously ponder the same, when the command is so express to observe the works of the Lord, which for that end are shewed forth, that men may enquire, and read the faithfulness of God therein; yea, that so great a truth, which would abide the search of all the criticks of the World, a truth wherein our blessedness through time and eternity li­eth, should offer it self to our trial, and yet, is so little known! O, who can dispense with the neglect of this duty? by which we answer that solemn call and invitation of the works of God, do honour him, serve our generation, are helpers to our own faith, and are thereby helped to strengthen others, yea, are brought to see with our eyes, and from experience, what before was as a strange thing unto us.

Now to clear how much this is a Christian's duty, to study a practical converse with the Word, and to be serious observers of its accomplishment, let us consider.

1. We are thus helped to declare the Works of the Lord, and to give him the glory of his faithfulness. And is not that a weighty duty? Which at all times, in every station and condition of life, should engage men to this study. Thus, every Christian may become a witness to the truth, and put his seal thereto; for which he should think his life truly desireable, and doth in no small measure attain the true end thereof, though he had no other opportunity, for his master's [Page 37] service. We may say, this truth of the Scripture's ac­complishment, like a great roll, hath been transmit­ted from hand to hand, from one age to another, attested and as it were subscribed by so many witnes­ses, it doth thus come to our time, and to every man's door and require their personal witnessing and sealing of the same.

2. This should make it an easy work, to trust the Word, and to adventure thereon in the ordinary oc­currences of their life. They may well trust God in a strait, who have so strong an argument to make use of, that oft they have tried him, and the truth of his Word, by many, many experiences. Will not those that know his name, trust on him? Which was a notable testimony from a serious Christian in a very sharp trial; "Oft have I tried God, and shall I not learn to trust him once?

3. This doth lay the Christian in the way of that promise. Psal. 107. last. ver. a promise truly large and comprehensive, but little considered, that such as are wise to observe the works of God, they shall see the loving kindness of the Lord, even in their own particu­lar case made out to them, yea, whilst they are serious to observe his works abroad in the World, and his way to others, they shall be no losers thereby at home; but find this promise meet them and turn their general observation, into personal experience of the loving kindness of the Lord.

4. Thus the saints by experiencing the truth of the Word, get a convincing seal thereby to their interest in the promise. For begun possession is indeed a strong witness to this right, when they can say, they have got as certain returns of the Word, which they have put to an essay, in some particulars of their life, as they are sure of any thing they did ever see; so that from unquestionable experience they may set up a pillar, and write thereon, Hitherto hath the Lord helpt us.

[Page 30] 5. Thus should Christians, with much advantage, be helped to convince gainsayers. For it's sure, A­theism could not make so bold and publick an ap­pearance, if men did not so much take their religion on trust. O, the serious experienced man can with an other confidence own the truth; whose experi­ence and observation of the works of God give him an argument that none can answer, while not only he can assert, but conduct and lead men to the things themselves, that they may see, if in such and such particulars the Scripture be not truly fulfilled.

6. Thus the providence of God would have a more sweet refreshing countenance: when from this great height, that watchtower of Christian observation, we take a view thereof. And truly, otherways, men will stumble at the most ordinary dispensations, and think God's Work is a mass of confusion: but here we are taught to see, how the written Word and his way are linked in a most sweet agreement.

7. We may thus trace Divine truth, even by our sense and feeling, and joyn the Word and experience in a regular correspondence: yea, thus we should have a clear transcript of the Lord's way with his Church, taken out of that great authentick original of the Scripture, and there see on what a solid basis and foundation, that magnificent structure of providence is raised up. What a notable key should we thus have for opening the Scripture, by a serious hum­ble inquiry after the works of God? Where not only the impression and sign of the power, but of the truth and faithfulness of the Lord, are so very le­gible.

8. This is a piece of our talent, wherewith we are entrusted; of which every Christian should study a serious improvement, knowing they must render an account, what their observation of this great truth [Page 39] hath gained, and what further establishment and con­firmation they have thus attained.

9. I would add, the concernment and weight of this study may press it much on us. For, if the Scrip­ture's accomplishment be an undoubted truth, O! then this is sure, the Saints have a great inheritance: they are Princes, though now under a disguise; and though yet minors, they are heirs of more than the World can shadow forth. The Christian is then more happy on a dunghil, scraping his sores, than such who are cloathed in purple, and fare delicately every day. If this be sure, we should look with compassion, rather then envy, on those whom the World doth account happy: We need not question the gain of Godliness; then it is sure, that such who sow in tears, shall reap in joy; and the righteous though now trampled upon, in the morning shall have dominion. Yea, in a word, we may then on sure ground solace our selves with the thoughts of that great change, which will be within a little time when the grave must render back her prisoners; and may with as much assurance of a blessed resurrection, lie down in the dust, as we are sure there will be a morning, when we lie down at night. O! then, there is a Heaven, and a Hell, that is certain; eternity is not a night-dream; and one moment shall shortly put an end to all our services, yea, the shutting of our eye­lids at death, shall but open them in the Paradise of God.

Having touched this truth a little in the general, I shall now hold forth some arguments, whence the ac­complishment of the Scripture may be demonstrated: they are these five, which I intend to prosecute in the following discourse.

[Page 40] FIRST Argument, To prove the Scripture is certainly fulfilled, and hath an accomplishment, is this; That which hath been in all ages the testimo­ny of the Saints; what every particular Christian doth seal, from their frequent and sure experience; what is found and proved by them, in their daily walk, upon exactest trial; yea, what as many as ever were serious in religion, do witness, must be certain and true.

But the accomplishment of the Scripture is such: Therefore, &c,

II. Argument. That which is manifest and le­gible in the whole course and tenor of providence a­bout the Church, and by clear convincing instances both of judgment and mercy is made out to the observation of every age, must be a certtin truth. But the Scripture's accomplishment is such,—Therefore, &c.

III. Argument. That which hath not only the Christian's testimony from experience, and of the Church from constant observation, but is obvious even to the view of the World; that which, from the conscience of the worst of men doth force a testimony, that they can neither shift nor deny; which also may be demonstrated to the conviction of ordinary ob­servers, and hath a publick acknowledgement from greatest Atheists and mockers of religion in every age, must surely be a clear truth.

But, &c. Therefore—.

IV. Argument. That which was to take place in such and such periods of time, and hath accordingly come to pass, the event exactly answering to the pre­diction; yea, that whereof a great part is now ful­filled, and but a little at this day remaineth to be made out, must be a certain truth.

[Page 41] But a great part of the Scripture is thus already fulfilled, and but a little thereof now remaineth.

Therefore, &c.

V. Argument. That which not only is for the most part already accomplished, but is a thing whereof we have such sure confirmations, yea, so great a pledge in our hand from the Lord, that what yet re­mains shall be certainly fulfilled, must it not be an undoubted truth?—But the Scripture, as to these spe­cial predictions, that are not yet made out, is such concerning which the Lord hath given his People a very large pledge, and strong confirmations, now in these latter times, to believe their certain accomplish­ment. Therefore, &c.

The FIRST ARGUMENT.

THat the Scripture of God, contained in the old and new Testaments, wherein our great hope and comfort doth lie, is certainly true, and hath a real accomplishment, may be thus demonstrated: That it is tried, and proved in the godly man's Experience, to which in all ages, yea, from innumerable Proofs, the saints have put to their seal, that this is a sure and faithful tes­timony.

Experience is indeed a strong demonstration: and it is such a witness, as leaveth no room for debate. For here the truth is felt, proved, and acted on the heart; which the Christian knoweth well, and is as sure of, as he is perswaded that he liveth, or that the sun when it shineth, hath light and warmth therewith. It is true, the World liveth at a great distance from this; they only converse with the sound of such a thing: and we know, the naked theory of Scripture-truth hath but a short reach, and that it differeth as far from that which a serious practical Christian hath, as the sight of a country in a map is from a real discovery of the [Page 42] same; where the difference is not in the degree, but in the kind. Yet, tho' this weighty testimony of ex­perience is a thing whereto many (alass! too many) are strangers, we must say, so much thereof is obvious, as may force its authority on men's consciences, and shew there can be no fallacy or delusion in this wit­ness, if they but allow the use and exercise of reason: seeing it is not the record of a few, at one time, or in one corner of the earth, but a solemn witness from the saints and followers of God, whose judgment and integrity their adversaries must often confess; yea, of all the saints in every age through the whole universal Church in parts of the earth most remote from other; and this by most frequent renewed proofs hath found and experienced the truth and real accomplishment of the Word. And now, if this be not sufficiently convincing, I would but add, O will you then come and see! be but Christians indeed, and then ye will no more debate that testimony. And truly it is a very poor shift, for men, who have the Scripture before them, which of itself doth witness its authority, and this backed with so solemn a seal from the Lord by his works and providence, to debate the Christians witness, from their experience, because they do not see this themselves: For what is the cause thereof? is it not their choice, that they do not follow on to know the same? The truth of God seeketh credit from no man upon trust; yea, craveth no more but that by a prac­tical converse they would put it to a trial: and then it shall not decline their judgement.

Now to prosecute this argument a little, I shall point at some special Scripture-truths, with which Christians have most usual trade and converse in their own case; and give in therewith their testimony how these are clearly proved and verified by most sure experience. It is not to be here understood, [Page 43] the giving a particular account, with respect to per­sons, time, or other circumstances, how the Word doth thus take place. I think, it may be sufficiently convincing, to instance in the general such clear un­controverted experiences, which are well known to the godly, and have by them been oft proved amidst the various changes of their life (though not by all in the same measure, but in some suitable proportion to their different sizes, trials, and wrestlings) which can witness that real correspondence, which the Word hath with the experience of the saints: and truly con­cerning these I may with some confidence assert, they are not naked or airy notions, but such as can witness their truth to the serious experienced Christian, whom on this account I dare attest.

I shall here instance in five special truths of the Word, which are much tried and proved in Christians experience. 1. That there is such a contrariety be­twixt the flesh and the spirit, as the Scripture holdeth forth. 2. The deceitfulness of man's heart. 3. That there is a spiritual and invisible adversary, with whom we have war. 4. That the promises of the Word have undoubted accomplishment. 5. That truth also of the threatnings; I mean, such under whose reach the godly may fall.

I. That there is a contrariety betwixt the flesh and the spirit, a Law in our members rebelling against the Law of our mind, is a truth very clearly proved to the Christian; whose experience, though sad, doth un­deniably verify and confirm the Scripture, Gal. 5. 17. Rom. 7. 19, 21, 23. This is a piece of the Word which holds forth man's nature in its true shape and form, whither their byass and inclination most easily turneth: yea, so marvellously answereth their ex­perience, that to question the same, were to put it far beyond question, that they know nothing of a new na­ture [Page 44] or principle of grace within. For whatever made earnest of Religion, but their first acquaintance with the peace of God was the beginning of this war? It is then that the house divideth, and corruption setteth up a standard; yea, no sooner can any begin to be a Christian, but he must be a souldier also. And we may say, none ever attained such a measure of mortifi­cation, or was so old in the grace of God, as could priviledge them from the stirrings of the old man, and necessity of that complaint, Who shall deliver us from the body of death! But what ever advantage some of the saints have above others, yet in this their expe­rience can witness.

1. They now know two different parties within themselves, that until once grace came they could not understand; which at the same time, in the very same action, do act oppositly one to the other: yea, that there is no spiritual duty, wherein the flesh (though not always in such a prevalent degree) doth not shew some active resistance.

2. That all the stirrings and motions of the flesh have still a tendency, congruous to their own nature, to turn the heart carnal, and to alienate it from God; so as it is easy to discern, how in these the rise and the end do throughly correspond.

3. That this is a cruel taskmaster, if once it bear sway; imperious in its command, and violent in its pursuit: so that their experience may herein tell, it's a sore and an intolerable thing, for a servant to bear rule.

4. That to things most forbidden the flesh moveth most impetuously; so, as it will even break through the hedge, though sure thereby to be scratcht with thorns: yea, it is oft so eager in its pursuit, that it will follow the bait, while the hook is most discer­nable.

[Page 45] 5. That when once this doth swell, and wax fat; they may upon another interest cry, Woe's us, our leanness! For, like the scales of the ballance, they find a proportionable abatement and depressing of their spiritual life, as the flesh goeth up; yea, they have cause to know how every step of their heart going forth to the World, is a step that doth put them fur­ther off from God.

6. That the more closely the Law is prest in its spiritual extent, yea, the more spiritual a duty is, the more fully opposite they find their carnal heart: and though the flesh may bear up a little with the form of Religion, and hath more complacency with that way which lieth most in externals, yet it cannot endure the power thereof; it can suffer men to be Hypocrites, but not truly Christians.

7. To restrain and bring this under bondage, they find that it doth put the spirit so much at liberty, which getting loose reins for a little while will leave the soul work for many days, and with sad after-groans pay back an hour's pleasure: yea, they also know, when the outward man is low, and under a sensible decay, it hath not then hindered, but rather effectually helped their inward joy and strength.

8. That indulgence to the flesh causeth a sensible thick interposition between Heaven and the soul; whence they are so clogged and hampered in their flight and motion toward God; yea, thus have of­ten their choicest duties been made a sore and grievous task.

9. That this is the true rise of their usual pertur­bations, and doth still put some jar betwixt them and their lot and doth hinder a satisfied enjoying of that which they have, through murmuring at that they want; yea, they know, that to please the flesh hath been oft the cause of their greatest grief and dis­pleasure.

[Page 46] 10. They also find how the defilement of their spirit doth help to darken it: which overgrown with the flesh, can have no clear discovery of spiritual things; but the more separate from the body, and purged from these gross dregs, they find themselves at a further advantage to converse with divine truths, which thus they get discovered, beyond all that nature can reach.

11. That the heart of man is deceitful, and desperately evil (Jer. 17. 9. Jer. 4. 14. Prov. 4. 23.) Is a Scripture truth, where to the Christians experience doth answer, as the face answereth to its self in the glass: yea, we may say, it is so clearly demonstrated to those who were ever serious about their inward case, that while they thus read the Word in themselves, and are made to read themselves in the Word, they may with wonder acknowledge, that he which can sound this great deep of the heart, and draw so vive a portraicture thereof, is surely one before whom all things are ma­nifest; who doth search and try the reigns, and know what is our mould and fashion. This is one of the very first lessons, which practical Religion doth teach: and the more nearness with God, and further measure of grace, that is attain'd, the more clear discovery there will be of this. O what sad hours, what bitter complaints, hath it caused? This oft doth marr the Christian's feast, and mingle their Wine with Gall and wormwood. I am sure, if that excellent company of the Saints, who have been from the beginning to this day, could be brought together, to give in their suffrage, and witness concerning the deceitfulness of the heart, there would be one joynt testimony to this truth. We should find that Enoch who walk'd with God, Moses with whom he spake face to face, that beloved Disciple who leaned on Christ's bosom, and [Page 47] he who was caught up to the third Heavens, were no strangers [...], but could witness thus.

1. That it is within which aileth them most, and their greatest adversaries are men of their own house: yea, that in the worst of times, there is still more cause to complain of an evil heatt, then of an evil and corrupt World; there being no worse company, than they are oft to themselves.

2. That no time of their life, but might give them some further proof, that they are fools, who trust their own heart, which oft will escape and over-reach their quickest reflexion, even when both their eyes are on it; yea, that there is no time that alloweth the putting off their armour, or to dismiss their guard; not the best case, the greatest establishment in grace, nor the evening of the day, though they were within some minutes of the crown and compleat victory, doth priviledge them from the experience of a deceitful heart.

3. That under the best frame, they find, there will often lurk that which after-time doth discover, that for the present (though it had been told) they could not have believed, until frequent experience maketh them see, that the Word knew their heart better than themselves.

4. That to bring home their heart, when once it goeth abroad, or recall the liberty they have given it, is not easy; which doth no sooner parley with a temp­tation at a distance or adventure to sport therewith, but it quickly turneth to earnest and is ready to yield.

5. They know the constant need to have a watch upon their senses, and to make a Covenant with their eyes, which do quickly betray their heart; so easy it is to be deceived, yea, to grow warm, and to take fire upon the smallest touch.

[Page 48] 6. How quickly also their spirit doth slacken, and lose its bent, even in the greatest advantage of their case; their experience can tell, that when in some mea­sure they have been raised up in any spiritual enjoy­ment, they were then in hazard to be lift up to the wind, and to have their substance dissolved in the more solid part of Christianity.

7. What a sight have they sometime of themselves? such as would be a terrour to them, if the heart and motions thereof could be writ out to the view of others, or that any were witnesses to that which in one room will dwell besides the grace of God as its next door-neighbour.

8. In a word their experience doth witness, how soon the strongest resolutions will evanish; that they are not oft in the evening, what they were in the morn­ing, nor for many hours do they keep the ground they had attained: but Reuben's Character, unstable as water, may be still their complaint. Yea, I am sure as many as ever obtain'd mercy to know themselves, can tell that it's past all reckoning, how oft their heart hath deceived them, when they trusted it most. This every day may cause them to sit down, and admire the grace of God; which can mend what they so oft marr; and is stronger to save and preserve, than they are to destroy.

III. That as there is a body of death within, they also know there is, An adversary without, Eph. 6. v. 12. 1. Pet. 5. ver. 8. Joh. 8. v. 44. whose way and devices and method of tempting do most exactly an­swer the discovery of the Word. This is indeed a truth, which Christian experience in all ages doth witness, that no sooner they had a serious look after God, but found themselves pursued by an invisible party, whose approaches, though spiritual, are yet certain, and most sensibly demonstrated; beside [Page 49] that which the Word doth clearly teach. Yea, it is true none [...] saints were ever priviledged from such experiences, for herein doth the Christian's warfare lie. But O how sweet may the evening be, while they sit down, and can sing that song, Our soul hath escaped as a bird from the fowler. I shall here give in something of the godly man's experience, which can bear witness to this.

1. That there is surely another party than the World, or themselves, with which they have to do; an invisible adversary without, whom they perceive by that sensible correspondence he keepeth with their heart within, by those violent inroads, importunate solicitations, those impetuous motions, wherewith they are so strangely hurried, and oft driven over light, and judgment, yea, over their strongest re­solutions, so as he may be as discernable to them, and that there is something therein beside themselves, as if they conversed with him in an outward visible shape.

2. That since the time when they begun to look after God, and to know any thing of his work upon their spirits, they have been acquainted with most af­frighting, dreadful temptations, and do now perceive his rage, and violent pursuit to bring them back, which they knew not before, when at peace with their idols and sinful way.

3. That the mark he levelleth at, to which his usual temptations have a tendency, is their soul and inward man, to hinder communion with God, and to turn their heart off from him, to break the Law, and lay aside commanded duties.

4. That his ordinary approaches to the heart are oft by a very small thing: he needs no more but an open door, or a sinful look for the dispatch of a temp­tation, and knoweth by a wound in the eye, how to carry death in unto the soul.

[Page 50] 5. That he is such a party as knoweth his time and opportunity, can change his weapons, [...] busk the hook with divers baits, and yet he is always at hand, when the heart is lifted up, when they are out of their duty, and in a carnal frame, to set in then with some temptation, and fish in such a troubled water.

6. That his way doth truly answer his name, Spi­ritual wickedness in high places; this being so discer­ned by daily experience, that he hath the advantage of the ground, is a most subtile observing adversary, who lieth in the dark to us, while we are in the light to him, and knoweth how to correspond with our corruption, and to suit his temptation to our natural temper (wherewith he is well acquainted) and to our calling, and our company, to the present strait, to our predominant inclination, and to our retirement and solitude; yea, that he is one who knoweth how to follow in, and play with such a gale, when we are in hot blood, or in any distemper and discomposure of spirit.

7. That he can transform himself into an Angel of light, and sute his temptations to the spiritual exerci­ses and enjoyments of the saints; that there are temp­tations on the right hand as well as the left, which are so refined, and so like a Christian exercise, that they can scarcely discern the weed from the flower, and most dreadful errors from the choicest truths, to which they oft have a great resemblance; though at last it doth appear that the native tendency even of the most specious errors in the judgment, is to loosness in practice, and to make men religiously irre­ligious.

8. That he is also a roaring lion; which they have oft proved by dreadful blasphemous injections, these fiery darts which are thrown in with violence, wherewith there is no concurrence of the inclination or consent, but a discernable force put upon them, [Page 51] assaulting them with most horrid Atheistical thot's, even while their heart doth rise with abhorrence, and enter their dissent against the same.

9. That he is a most restless adversary; who is going still about, and giveth no cessation, but with purpose to return at some greater advantage; and is no less terrible in his flight, than in his assault; and that he can speak out of a friend, as well as out of a foe; yea, and doth then most dangerously tempt, when the temp­tation is least seen or discovered.

10. That his temptations do not only drive at en­gaging of the heart to bring sin to the thought, but also the bringing it forth to the act, for putting some blot upon their walk and conversation.

11. That he is one who is overcome by resistance, and doth flee before those that withstand him; which they have oft proved, that they have returned from prayer with the spoyl of their adversary, and at such a time have been made to wonder, how that which hath oft foyled them, should have been their temp­tation.

13. They also find by frequent observation, that though he is most subtile, being indeed one who through long experience and continued practice hath attained a great deal of dexterity in tempting; yet, he hath one usual method, and such device which the serious Christian, by daily experience and watchfulness, may easily discern, and perceive his temptations in their rise, and at a distance while they are, as it were, creeping up the wall: yea, thus in some measure he may find out the depths of Satan, and know how to avoid the net spread by that great fowler.

IV. That the promises of the Word which are held forth to the Godly, for their use and encouragement while they are in the way, have a certain accomplish­ment, [Page 52] and are a safe ground to adventure upon, and worthy to be credited, is a truth tried in all ages; whereto experience of the saints can give a large testi­mony.

Now in speaking to this grave subject, it is not need­ful to speak any thing of the nature and diverse kinds of promises, nor whence it is that we live at so poor a rate and so uncomfortably, while such as well as this is at our hand. For it's easy to read the cause within ourselves, we sow sparingly, and venture little out, therefore we have so small an increase; there is a price for wisdom, but it is in the hands of fools, who have no heart thereto. But this doth not concern us here; for I only aim to hold out this, that the promi­ses which God hath given his People in the Scrip­ture, are of unquestionable verity, and have as real and sure performance in the saints experience, as they are sure of that which cometh most necessarily to pass by the work and concurrence of natural causes, as that the fire doth burn when combustible matter is ad­ded, or the sun rise after its going down. For indeed this truth is so manifest, proved by such innumerable experiments, amidst the various changes of a Chris­tian's condition, that we might summon as many witnesses as have been followers of God in the World, which are not a few, who in all ages have put the promises to an essay, and set their seal that God is true. Yea, to ask at such, if they know whe­ther there be a truth in Scripture-promises, that co­meth not to pass, I think were to enquire at a living man, whither he seeth and feeleth, or if there he such a thing as motion, since they have as sure and sensible a demonstration of the one, as he hath of the other.

But [...]ere I speak any thing particularly to this, I would first premise some things, to clear what we un­derstand [Page 53] here, by the saints experience of the truth of the promises, in these following considerations.

1. We would consider, though the Scripture hath here it's accomplishment, and is intended for the use of the Church, and every particular Christian, while on the way in his militant condition, yet there are some promises of the Word (yea, the greatest) which belong to the saints, that will not be fulfilled, until they have cast off their armour, and are called to divide the spoil: their experience of which, will be the high prize of the calling of God in Christ, whereof, all which they now enjoy, is but an earnest.

2. We would consider that the great intent of the Scripture, and promises thereof, is not for contem­plation, but that we may know them by experience, and drive a blessed trade and commerce therewith; the merchandize of which is better nor that of gold: for here lieth the Christian's life in the World, yea, it is a great part of their talent, the promises, which are not to be laid up in their heart and memory, as [...] a napkin, but they must give an account what ex­perience they have gained thereby, and thus the dili­gent hand should make rich.

3. What ever be the different sizes, and degrees of experience among the saints, according to their growth and age in Christ, yet it is certain that the meanest who have interest in the promises, and did ever embrace them in earnest, and put them to trial, must know something of the performance of the same in their own case; for the Lord doth not suffer his work in his People to want a seal.

4. The godly's experience hereof, is then much made out, when they are much in observation; and we know little of the truth and performance of the promises, because we are not more habitually in a frame to observe. Thus he goeth by, and we per­ceive not; but they never wanted confirmations, [Page 54] who were seriously seeking to be confirmed in the truth of the Word.

5. The special mercies and providences of a Christian life, are a certain return of the promise, and in that way do meet them, as the proper channel of their conveyance; for they are the sure mercies of the Covenant: and how refreshful is it, that all the se­veral cases of the Saints, their meanest as well as their greatest necessities, and their outgate or relief are comprehended in the Word, and under some pro­mise, and were all foreseen in his everlasting view, who hath so marvellously suited the same to all that his People stand in need of, as if it had been directed to such and such a Christian only!

6. This helpeth to make the mercies of the godly man to have a peculiar and sweet relish, and to be some way twice his mercy, when he gets them in so im­mediate a way reached to him as it were out of the promise, and as an observable return from Heaven; when thus the Lord sealeth his Word to him by his work, and the way of the Word he findeth hath been the way of his comfortable Relief; that when he hath had no other escape, but to turn in to the pro­mise, and to cast himself upon it, he gained this ex­perience, he trusted in God, and was helped; and can give in this testimony of him, that he hath both spoken it, and himself also hath done it, according to his Word.

7. It is not any extraordinary thing, we here un­derstand, by the Christian man's experience of the truth of the promises; it is not a rapture or revelation, or such as some of the Saints have upon some singular and special account had; for we have not any promise for these things: But it is something well groun­ded upon the Word, which constantly holdeth in the Lord's ordinary-way of procedure with his People, ac­cording to the tenor of the Covenant. For his Word, [Page 55] doth good to them that walk uprightly; and doth certainly take place in the experience of every serious and diligent Christian.

8. This is not the testimony of a few, but the re­cord of all the Saints since the beginning, whose ex­perience doth all most harmoniously agree, and bear one witness, that he is faithful who hath promised; & it is not that which a Christian hath found once or twice in his life, but the daily food of such as live by faith.

9. This doth put a strong obligation on the godly man to the Word, for the time to come; for these who have tryed it often, may with much confidence trust it in the day of their strait.

10. The experience which the godly hath of the real performance of the promises, is a most convinicng evidence of his state in Christ. It is the earnest and pledge of the inheritance, and full accomplishment of that which remaineth; that the Lord will perfect what concerneth him, who hath been his help hitherto; and will be his exceeding great reward in the end, who hath made him find so much of the gain of godliness here by the way.

Now having premised these things, I shall here instance some particular promises, wherein the Christian's most usual trade and commerce doth lie, and to which they give in their seal and witness. I confess, if all these proofs which the Saints have had, of the fulfilling of the promises, could be gathered to­gether, we might make use of that Divine hyper­bole, The World could not contain the books that should be written thereof. O what an admirable volume, what an excellent commentary, and copy should this be of the Scripture, to see it thus turned over into the experience of every Christian! It would be some [...] easy to number the drops of rain and dew since the creation, as to reckon all these precious [Page 56] drops and emanations of love, these sensible returns and accomplishments of the promise, which they have had in their experience. I truely think, it could hardly be believed, though it were told, what some of the god­ly here have found in the way of the Word: but it is sufficient, to answer the design of this work, to shew that there is a sensible demonstration and per­formance of Scripture-promises, concerning which the experience of the Saints in all ages doth agree; that by many confirmations the Lord hath oft sealed the truth thereof to their souls.

There are 10 special promises, held forth to the godly in the Word, which I shall here instance, and therewith hold forth what a clear testimony their experience can give, of the undoubted truth and accomplishment of the same.

FIRST Instance, is that promise given to Belie­ving; to such who credit the naked word, when there is no probable appearance of its fulfilling, and thus give God the glory of his faithfulness; which we have expresly held out, 1 Chron. 20. 20. Ps. 112. 7. 8. Joh. 1. 50.

To clear the accomplishment of this promise, I shall but appeal to that testimony the saints in all ages have left thereof; yea, to the present experience of the godly at this day, if they have not certainly found it so—

1. That when in a particular they have trusted God therewith, and got their spirit quiet in a recumbency on him, he hath dealt with them according to his word; yea, if then from clear convincing returns of the promise, they have not been made to say, it did never re­pent them, that they gave more credit to the testimony of God, than of their own hearts.

2. That they have not found a more sweet and observable issue, than when their help lay most im­mediately [Page 57] on the word alone; never a more comfortable Relief than when least of sense and most of faith was in carrying them through, when little of the creature and much of God appeared in their mercy, and when they were at the lowest, having no way of es­cape but to throw themselves on the promise, they have then had the best retreat, yea, their supply as sensibly felt, as their need and burden had former­ly been.

3. That their greatest difficulties and shakings a­bout the promise, have helped to their further confirm­ing and establishment: so as they can say, the Lord's way, by perplexing them first, yea, to their sense losing their Hold, hath helped to fasten it better; and that which for the time did speak their case most helpless, hath made way for his more eminent ap­pearance and manifesting of himself.

4. That their greatest venture, and giving most out, hath usually had the richest income: the most e­minent experiences of their life have followed the most adventurous acts of their faith; yea, upon an after-reckoning they have oft found, that their adventuring of life, estate, and credit on the promise of God, even in these things, hath very observably been their Advantage.

5. That where they have most been a friend to their faith, there hath faith also been most a friend to them: in their standing to the credit of the promise, nor dis­mayed by the greatest objections and false reports raised thereof, they have found a very evident mark of God's respect to the same, causing them to see, that he will honour such who thus honour him. And it is indeed worthy of a remark, what we have of Caleb upon record, that he took part with the promise of God a­gainst that discouraging report which then was raised of the Anakims, and their walled cities; and there­fore the inheritance of the Children of Anak was [Page 58] given to Caleb and his sons, in their lot from the Lord.

6. That believing doth always make way for sense, and in their closing with the naked Word of promises, they have not wanted the seal of the Spirit of promise; but have found a sweet-calm, their burden sensibly cased, when once they got it said over on the word, which they can say hath been their first resting place, like the very fixing of the motion of the needle to­wards its right point, when their spirit had been rest­less and in greatest agitation.

7. That the greatest disappointments, which their hope in the Word seemed to have, they have found afterwards most to their advantage; when their returns have not only been according to their faith, but have often exceeded their adventure, and been far beyond what they believed: yea that from fre­quent experience they may say, the issue of trusting the Word, how long so ever they thought it deserted, yet came always in season, was never too late and out of time.

8. That this did never occasion bitter reflexions, or was their reproach before the World, that they trusted God in a day of strait and were not helped: but this testimony have all such left, who have most credited it in a dismal hour, that none should fear after them to hazard upon such a hand and venture on the pro­mise; for their faith hath oft carry'd them well and comfortably through, where both sense and reason have been ready to sink.

SECOND Instance, Whereby we may see the performance of the promise in Christi [...] experience, is this, That God truly heareth prayer; is near unto his People in what they call upon him for, agreeable to his Word, and will answer their desires; we have this [Page 59] promise most express. Phil. 4. 6. Psal. 32. 6. Psal. 65. 2. Psal. 91. 15.

Now the accomplishing of this part of Scripture is so very clear, that I can attest the experience of all the generation of the righteous, since the beginning, what frequent and unanswerable confirmations they have got of this truth in their Christian walk: so that I am sure, no man ever was in earnest in the matter of Religion, and a stranger to this; yea, that he was never more certainly perswaded of any thing, than of this, that God doth hear prayer. O if men's souls were but in their souls stead, whose evening-wres­tlings and tears the Lord hath oft turned into a morning-song, they would know this is no delusion. I shall here touch something of that experience, which by many proofs the saints can give, as a witness to this promise.

1. That when they have oft with Hannah gone in before the Lord in the bitterness of their spirit, they have been made to return with a sensible and mar­vellous change in their case; yea, when in going a­bout prayer, they have been put to wrestle with much distemper and deadness, they have oft seen the wind discernibly change, and therewith their spirits light­ned from under that burden, an observable calm and serenity following much inward perturbation; yea, they can say, that they have found their hearts thawed, and put in a flush of tenderness, upon the back of a most sensible restraint.

2. That access and liberty to pour forth their souls to God, when he hath filled their mouth with ar­guments, and inabled them both to wrestle and wait, they have found a favourable Crisis, and begun Relief, yea, the very turn of a sad case, which they have got from the Lord, as the pledge of a further answer, and that when he thus prepareth the heart, he doth cause his ear to hear.

[Page 60] 3. That when they have been under a most dark cloud, they have found their sky clear, have got a very sensible taste of God's acceptation in prayer, and of his taking their sute off their hand, even while the matter was still in dependance before him; yea, that they have oft had such a satisfying impression of God's mind, and perswasion of his answering their desire, as hath helped them cheerfully to wait, yea, sometimes to sing the triumph before the victory.

4. That when they had been much in prayer, they must also say, it hath been the time wherein their spirit hath flourished, was most lively; yea, then they had their best days; then the candle of the Lord shined upon their pathes, and his dew lay all night upon their branches. But they have found there is an evident and proportionable abatement of their spiritual life and encouragement in God, according to their wearing out in the exercise of this duty.

5. They have many times found, that when there was nothing left them, but to turn in to God, and they knew of no other way to come through, but to pray and look up, they never found a more sweet and seasonable relief: so that most observable times of prayer have been also the most observable times of their experience; and they can say from many proofs, it is no hopeless business, which is put over upon God by prayer, though there be small outward appear­ance.

6. That it is not in vain to follow out a sute before the throne, but access and interest in Heaven is as sure a way to come speed (which they know well) as greatest interest upon earth; having so evidently found, while many seek the ruler's favour, that the determination of every thing is from the Lord.

7. That prayer, with quiet waiting in the use of means, getteth comfortably through, where over­caring [Page 61] and carnal policy, in the use of all other shifts, hath been forced to stick.

8. They know by experience, that as there are judi­cial times, wherein an inhibition as it were is [...] on them from the Lord, in their wrestling, yea, [...]nd a sore restraint on their spirits, which hath been very sensible, so also they have found times of more easy access, and abundant liberty, a spirit of prayer let forth, before some special mercy and deliverance to the Church, whereby they could in some measure discern its near approach.

9. That on the back of some solemn address and application to God by prayer and fasting in a day of strait, they have oft seen cause even from that day and upward to date a remarkable return, and deliver­ance, in which even common observers might dis­cern what an evident answer the Church's interces­sion with God in times of extremity hath had.

10. I may add, the saints know this so well by experience that surely God heareth prayer, even in such and such a particular, that they can with much confidence adventure, and make an errand of the meanest, as well as their greatest concernments to him; having so oft tried, and found that seri­ousness and sincerity in address to God was never in vain, but what ever be the times, therein this promise taketh place, your heart shall live, that seek God.

THIRD Instance, Is the promise of the Spirit, and pouring out of the same; which we have clear in the Word, Is. 59. 21. Joh. 14. 16. Luk. 24. 49. Re [...]. 8. 16. 6.

The accomplishment of which is so manifest, such a sensible demonstration thereof in the experience of the saints, that I am sure this can no more be deny­ed, than those who are warmed with the heat of the sun, can deny their sense and feeling, that the sun [Page 62] hath such an influence: and doth not the Christian's spiritual walk, bear as convincing a witness to the fulfilling of this promise, as any living man by wal­king in the way sheweth that he hath a soul and principle of life within him. Now to demonstrate this a little, I would but touch some of the ordinary experi­ences of the saints therein, which they do testify and by clear undeniable evidences know to be no de­lusion.

1. That which causeth so real a change upon them, which maketh them alive to God, who once were dead, creating them as it were of new, that which bringeth a clod of earth so near Heaven, raiseth so far above themselves to a delightful converse with things not seen, that while their place and abode is here, their company and fellowship is above; that which maketh all things new to them and doth so far change their nature and inclination, as causeth them to find more sweetness in a spiritual life, than in the plea­sures of sin, yea, reconcileth them with the Law, and exercises of a Christian, where once there was such contrariety: Oh! is not this a real effect of the Spirit, and no imaginary thing!

2. That whereof they were altogether ignorant, when they were strangers to God, and knew not if there were a Holy Ghost, but by report, now since their being born again they find themselves entred in another World, brought out of darkness unto a mar­vellous light, and of this are sure, that once they were blind, but now they see, is not this a proof of the truth of this promise?

3. That which maketh them see more of God in his Wood, and Works, at one time than at another; whence is this difference and inequality, the Scrip­tures are at one time the great things of God's Law, which are at an other time, but common things to them! the object is the same, but O! what diffe­rent [Page 63] manifestation thereof? whence is it that such a light springeth up in the Word, that openeth up this deep, and maketh them see the wonders of his Law, and within a little time nothing but dark night; do not the saints know this well, and that it is no delusion?

4. That which maketh such sensible liberty in their soul, and confidence in their approach to God, after sore bondage and fear; which raiseth them often so far above their ordinary frame as they are not only quickned and refreshed themselves, but do obser­vably warm others. O how piercing, and savory are their words, which shew what difference there is oft, betwixt a Christian, and himself, betwixt a dead exercise of a gift which reacheth the ear, and that which melteth the heart, and doth even reach by-standers, with a pleasant perfume!

5. That which maketh such a sudden change in their case under ordinances: that their heart, that died within them as a stone, ere they were aware hath got life, and taken fire with a Word; yea, hath been poured out within them so as their Beloved's voice hath had another sound! O then they think not the time long, the Word is as the honey from the comb, so as they have oft wisht a perpetual arrest upon their spirit in such a condition, that none may stir up their beloved until [...]e please! Can that be any delusion?

6. That which bringeth in promises seasonably into their mind in the day of their strait, and causeth the Word to come in so suitably to their present case, with such a satisfying impression of the same, as doth give most sensible and present ease.

7. That which so clearly by the Word discovereth to men their own heart, and doth search them out in their most close and retired thoughts, that they have [Page 64] been oft made to wonder, how the Word is upon all their secrets; is not this the candle of the Lord?

8. That which doth demonstrate their state and being in Christ, by an argument which is beyond all words, and doth by power in an irresistible way an­swer all objections, and turn the most froward case into a blessed calm, and hath made a simple word more effectual in a moment, than most perswasive arguments could be.

9. That which maketh such abundant joy spring up in the heart, when there is no visible grounds for▪ the same, like the dry bone gushing out water, must surely be some supernatural and excellent power, that cannot only bring it out of nothing, but out of contraries.

10. That which giveth them so sensible a taste of the powers of the World to come, such a ravishing glance of the inheritance, that they could hardly sometime forbear to rise at midnight and sing for joy in the hope thereof; and hath given them such a dis­covery of God at some special times, as hath made them [...]dge that all they ever knew of him before, was but [...] hearing of the ear.

11. That which is so discernable and sensibly felt at the present time, that Christ's return to the soul, and [...] effusion of the Spirit, hath been as evident oft to the saints, as to that Martyr who was forced to cry out at the stake, He is come, he is come! and hath been so sweet when enjoyed, that the remem­brance of some of these times hath been very pleasant and refreshing; yea, this is such a thing as most observably occurs to the godly man in the way of his duty, according to the Word.

12. That is no delusion, the withdrawing where­of is so sensible to them, as it maketh their duty wherein they have had delight, become their burden; when they are put to row with oars, the wind being [Page 65] gone; and maketh it like night to the soul, when the sun is gone down: and sad experience hath oft shewed them, how the overclouding of their soul, the with­drawing of the Spirit, the comforter, doth observa­bly follow a neglect of their duty, and yeilding to any known sin, by which it is grieved.

FOURTH Instance, is that Promise for Direction, which God hath given his People in the Word; that [...]e will guide them with his Counsel, will order and direct their steps, who do commit their way, to him, and teach them the way that they shall choose, Psal. 37. 5. Ps. 25. 9. 14. Ps. 74. 24.

The fulfilling of which hath been so manifest to those who ever made earnest of acknowledging God in their ways, and committing the conduct thereof to him, that I shall but attest their experience, if they have not this testimony to give—

1. That to trust God with their case, and give him the guiding of their way, hath carried them much more easily through a plunging case, than overcaring anx­iety; yea, the Lord's directing their steps, and ma­king things successful, when they have committed the same to him, hath been often as sensible to them, as their strait and difficulty was.

2. That the way of the word hath been the best expedient for carrying them safe and comfortably through; and that they never repented, that they did more consult their duty, than inclination, when they were at a stand about a particular, and did not debate the command, even while there seemed a lion in the way.

3. That they were never left without counsel and direction, when their eye was single, and serious a­bout it; and that it was not so much want of light, as of an heart to close therewith, that made their way oft so dark: but when they subjected themselves to God's [Page 66] mind, they found, that such who follow him, shall not walk in darkness.

4. That light and counsel doth meet men in fol­lowing the command, and the practice of known du­ty, hath helped them to know more their duty; and that light did most abound, when it was most their serious study to follow the same.

5. They found, it was never in vain, to enquire after God's mind by prayer, and also in the temple to make a reference of a particular to him, when it was too hard for them; but have often seen the Word evident­ly directed to such and such a case, as if they had got a return from Heaven by an audible voice.

6. They also know, that God's following in light with a powerful impression, his teaching the reins, and instructing with a strong hand is no delusion, but the sure and well grounded experience of most solid Christians in all ages; yea, most discernable from any false impulse: and that some special piece of work and service, which God hath laid in their Way, wants not usually some special call, backed with such light and authority, as in an irresistable way can answer all objections, to make them go bound in the Spirit, about such a duty.

7. How God's special directing hand hath been o [...]t very observable, not only in preventing and crossing their way, to withdraw them by some sharp dispensation, from their purpose; but sensibly ever-powering them, so that they have been plucked as it were back, from unavoidable hazard, that they could not find their paths.

8. I shall add, they have oft observably found, how easy their way was made to them when the Lord doth countenance and prosper the same: what sweet concurrence of providences; how then difficul­ties have most sensibly been taken out of the way, yea, wind, and tide going along with them, in such a [Page 67] manner, that they have been forced to see and con­fess a divine hand therein.

FIFTH Instance, is the promise of Pardon, and forgiveness which God hath given his People in the Word: that for his names sake he will blot out their iniquity, and remember their sin no more; yea, is ready to pardon; which is expresly held forth, to those who are truly humbled. Mic. 7. 18. Jer. 31. 34 Is. 43. 25.

Now that there is a real accomplishment of this, I am sure, the experience of the saints can in all ages clearly witness; what joy and peace this hath occasi­oned, what a sensible demonstration and solemn confirmations they have had of this promise, so as their very bones might sing; Who is like unto thee, O Lord! It is true real pardon doth not always in­fer the sensible feeling thereof; and when Sin is re­mitted in Heaven, there is not always a declaration of it in the conscience. But it is also sure, that this is sensibly felt, and that it is tryed by all, even all the ge­neration of the righteous, to have had as powerful an operation on a disquieted troubled soul, as ever wine or the choicest cordial could have on the sick, or faint. O! if those who question this, were in their case, to whom God speaketh peace after a storm, they would know how real and certain that is! I would offer the Christians witness to this promise, from many, many experiments, by which the Lord hath sealed it to their soul, whereby they know assuredly it is no fancy or delusion.

1. How this hath as sensible a connexion with the serious exercise of contrition and repentance, in their experience, as it certainly hath in the word and pro­mise; while they find, that in silence and keeping up their case from God, their bones have been trou­bled, their spirit in a restless and disquieted condition, [Page 68] until once they made an address, and got their soul vented by confessing to the Lord, which was then like a kindly turn and cool of a fever.

2. They know it is no delusion, that is found so cer­tain a cure to a wounded spirit, under the sense of sin; a wound which the world and all its diversions could ne­ver heal; whose pain and grief no musick can allay (a drop of divine displeasure being enough to turn all their pleasures into wormwood and gall) but O! a taste of this unspeakable cordial, one warming look of a reconciled God, they know by experience, can give present ease.

3. It is no delusion, which they can not command; no more, than the sun to shine when overclouded, or the wind to blow, but when it li [...]teth: which the most perswading moral arguments can no ways ef­fectuate, nor all their former experience, nay, nor the let­ter of most refreshing promises, which sometimes are to them but as the white of an egg, without taste, until once the spirit breathe; which not only discovereth the ground of their joy in the word, but doth also cause them to rejoyce therein, when it shi­neth upon the same.

4. It must be no delusion, which causeth so marvel­lous a change, that after greatest disquieting fears they have found most sensible manifestations of love; the greatest flood on the back of the lowest ebb in their spiritual condition; which oft hath forced them to retract, what their fears and jealousies did utter; yea, hath made them enquire with wonder, whence they are so chearful to day, who yesternight were so broken and crusht? whence their spirit should be in so sweet a calm, that so lately was like the raging and troubled sea?

5. That this hath oft met them, as a blest surpri­zal and unexpected welcome, when they have in a backsliding case come in to God, they certainly [Page 69] know: that when they knew not how to adventure, and at what end of their raveled condition to begin, counts having run long over; yet on their very first address, have got a sweet disappointment to their fears, been helped to their feet, yea, some times have had as it were the fatted calf killed, to make merry with their friends.

6. That which hath an audible voice within, so strong an impression upon the soul, which carrieth with it such a clear satisfying discovery of God's heart and love, is surely no delusion; while the intimation of that one truth, Your sins are forgiven, or any other word of promise for that end, they have found to be an argument beyond words, which they could not resist, but for the time have been as sure, they see and feel this, as that they live; yea, can no more now call it [...]n question, than formerly they could get it be­lieved.

7. That is no delusion, which causeth them with another kind of freedom to approach to God; ma­keth them know, there is a Spirit of adoption, which sets the soul at liberty from the sore bondage and thraldom, under which their former backsliding had put them; yea, a thing not only sensibly felt by them­selves, but may be discerned by others, while they cannot smother the joy of their heart, or hide in their countenance such a change of their condition, that truly God hath dealt comfortably with them.

8. Hath not this the Saints in all ages witnessed, even a joy unspeakable and full of glory, which though but of short continuance, yet for the present so strong, as hath ravished their soul with the hope of the inheritance above, and clear view of their in­terest in it; yea, sometimes made them sing for joy, in expectation of that blessed day! But, O! this is better felt, than expressed.

[Page 70] 9. And in a word, can that be a delusion, that hath oft turned the poor man's hell into a Heaven; which meets the Christian in the way of his duty, and the work doth so exactly answer the promise; most sen­sibly felt after greatest shakings of the conscience by the law; and can make a sad outward lot, so very sweet and pleasant; cause them to triumph over the wrath of men, to sing in a dungeon, to abound and have all things under greatest wants, look grim death chearfully in the face in its most dreadful aspect; yea, doth make so great and visible a difference betwixt the Christian, and himself!

SIXTH Instance, Is that promise of Encourage­ment, and support under the Cross: which is expresly held forth in the Word, that the Lord will own his People, bear their charges, and be with them in trouble, in the day of their suffering for his truth; yea, will bind up the broken in heart, and heal their wounds. Psal. 91. 15. Isai. 43. 2. Cap. 41. 17. & Cap. 49. 14. Psal. 9. 9. Isai 51. 12.

Now that this promise is a truth, and hath a cer­tain accomplishment, the experience of the Saints in all ages will witness: and we know their testimony is true. What at solemn times of God's presence they have had in a barren wilderness, how great a cloud of witnesses doth seal this, and give their testimony to the Cross of Christ! Of which we may say, the fame and sweet favour hath gone forth, and spread abroad through the Church; the Fathers have told it to the Children, and one generation to another: but how little a part thereof can be expressed! I think, it would be a marvellous record, if the suffering, and prison experiments of the Saints were particularly set down, what they have found under the cross. But it is well, we know this promise hath been, and this day is evidently sealed; concerning which I dare attest the [Page 71] experience of as many as did ever drink of this blessed cup, and were counted worthy to suffer for the testimony of Christ, if this be not a faithful and true witness—

First, that they have oft tasted what communion with God is, in the secret duties of a Christian, also in the publick ordinances, and in a special measure, at some more solemn times; but, O! never knew his presence and communion with him more sensi­bly than under the Cross: yea, have found that the work and service of a suffering-time, as it is not the ordinary Service of every day, hath also a peculiar and more than ordinary allowance.

2. That they never knew divine strength more sen­sibly, than when they have been most pressed above their own strength: that in the day they were cast on God's immediate care, and ordinary means of their help most withdrawn, they had never less cause to complain, but might often say this as their experi­ence, they thirsted not when he led them through the wilderness; yea, that they have at no time of their life, found their mercies more observably attend them, nor more sweet and satisfying, than when by prayer and believing, they were put to dig the well, and wait for the rain coming down to fill it.

3. That they never found more true liberty, than in the house of bondage: more refreshing company, than amidst their greatest solitude; while they found Him near, whom gates and bars cannot shut out: in the day when all things else seemed to frown upon them, that their midnight-songs have been sweeter, than all the prosperity they sometimes enjoyed; and that they have oft proved, that the deeper any are in affliction for Christ and his truth, they are also the deeper in consolation.

4. They must say, the most satisfying and clear discoveries of the word are under searching and shar­pest [Page 72] trials; that a sanctified exercising affliction, they have found one of the best interpreters of the bi­ble, and the word then to be an other thing, than it is at other times; yea, even to have been that to them, which they could desire it to be, so as they are sure it hath been shaped out and directed for that present plunge their soul was in.

5. That there is a very easy passage and dispatch, betwixt Heaven and an oppressed afflicted soul, an observable vent by prayer, and more sensible access to God's face, when other things have most frowned; yea, they can witness from experience that he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his East wind: that while he shutteth one door, he hath set an other open; that when the storm without hath been very sharp, they have found a sweet calm and sun-shine within, to make it easy; and that when he layeth on one sore trial, he will take an other off.

6. They can tell what a sweet comfortable parting, they have oft had, with some sharp trial; which at the first was bitter as death, but in the close, after sanctified exercise under the same, they have found cause to leave it their blessing, and confess, that the time of greatest jealousy and fear upon their part, they have found on God's part hath been a time of greatest kindness and love; the sharpest wounds from such an hand and heart as his, have tended to a cure; yea, that circumstance and ingredient in the same, which of all was most bitter and grievous, even there they have found their relief and encouragement most remarkable.

7. That the peculiar advantage of a sanctified trial is not so well seen in the present time, as after­wards, when the case hath altered; then they found a long and rough storm recompenced at their land­ing, with a rich lading of experience; an other kind of discovery of God, his way, and the cer­tainty [Page 73] of his word, than they formerly had attained: so as now they can speak of him, and the good of the cross, and adventuring any thing for Christ, with some greater esteem, on an other ground, than re­port, or an hearing thereof by the ear.

8. I shall add what hath been the frequent testi­mony of those who ever endured tribulation for the gospel, that their remembrance and after-reckoning upon this account hath not been sad or bitter, when they sat down and compared their gain with their loss, their supports & reliefs with these days of trial, which have gone over their head: so that they would not then exchange their experience, or want what they have found by the cross; no, not for many more days of trouble and affliction.

SEVENTH Instance, is that promise of the word which integrity, in an evil time hath; that it shall preserve their steps, and be the best means to help those through, that keep God's way, yea, even in this life shall not want some witness of God's respect. Ps. 18. 25. Ps. 112. 4. Rev. 3. 10.

Now to hold forth the accomplishment of this, I may with confidence appeal to the observation of the saints in all ages, who ever made it their serious study to keep their garments clean in a time of try­al, if their experience hath not this testimony to give.

First, that though at present, honesty in evil times hath brought them in hazard, and with Joseph to a prison, yet it hath brought them out also, with observable advantage; yea, how ever the Lord did order their Deliverance, they have found this did land them well, and always bring them to a comfortable harbour.

2. That honesty and faithfulness hath an autho­rity even on the conscience of their enemies, and [Page 74] leaveth usually a conviction upon them: Yea, hath forced a testimony and approbation from such men, and they have oft found better entertainment, than those who in a sinful way have sought to please them.

3. They have found this integrity always the choic­est expedient and best policy in a dangerous time, which hath observably met them, when they had most to do; A thing whereof they have reaped the fruits in the day of their strait, and times of judgment; yea, though it hath occasioned sometime their sufferings, yet it hath been also their safety and protection from sadder sufferings.

4. That though integrity is oft under a dark cloud of reproach, yet it still getteth well out from under the same, and hath shined usually more bright after­ward: So as they have had cause to observe, what unexpected means the Lord hath made use of, for their clearing.

5. That while their enemies might have (were it not for the preventing goodness of God) quarrelled upon some other ground, they have been observably led to pursue, and make them the Butt of their ma­lice, for their honesty, and that wherein they have peace before God, and have been kept from hitting on the right cause.

6. They find how unspeakably sweet this is upon an after-reckoning, and in the evening of their life, that then they reap a comfortable harvest, of that they have sown with much suffering and tears. O! then it doth not repent them, that integrity was their choice.

7. They have sometime found a hundred-fold even in this life; and an observable gain in that, which they have been willing to risk and hazard most.

8. They must also say, integrity was never their ruin; but an escape was oft brought about in a way [Page 75] they could not have expected; yea, the Lord's shut­ting all other doors upon them hath been, that he might open one himself, like Hagar's well springing up in the wilderness.

9. That in making their aim, when they had a large heart for God, they have not then wanted an opportunity for evidencing the same; their encour­agement hath abounded with their duty; and they have got much in, in giving much out for Christ; that there was no such feast in the world, as they have sensibly found in the testimony of a good con­science.

EIGHTH Instance is that promise, which is held forth to the Christian in the word, of strength and assistance to go about duties. Is. 40. 29. 30. 31. Ps. 18. 6. 14. Ps. 84. 5. Ps 68. 28.

To clear this, that it hath an unquestionable per­formance, I attest the experience of the generation of the righteous. Who ever knew what it was to serve the Lord in the spirit; and by many sensible confir­mations, have not prov'd the certainty of these things?

First, that when they have gone about duty under much deadness and straitness of spirit, they have found a very sensible enlargement, and got their bonds leased: which surely they could no more com­mand, without the concurrence of divine help, and something above nature, than these who spread out the sail, can command a fair wind, when it is cross.

2. That God's help and concurrence was never more discernably carrying them through, and making them strong, then in the day, that (to their own sense) they were most weak, when they have gone about duty under greatest fears, and fainting in spirit.

3. That when they had most confidence in them­selves, and judged they were at greatest advantage in [Page 76] their going about some duty, they have usually had the saddest retreat; and found that a sure truth, the race is not to the swift, nor the battel to the strong.

4. They know well what an influence divine con­currence hath, not only upon their inward frame, but also upon the exercise of their gifts, yea, upon the commonest abilities of judgment, and memory; and that there is a most remarkable difference, betwixt themselves at one time, and another, according to the blowing of this wind.

5. They must also witness this as their experience, they found duty never more easy to them, than when they have had most to do, and were kept most throng­ed and pressed therein; yea, when much work was laid to their hand, they then wanted not an enlarged allowance for the same.

6. That their spirits have been fitted for duty, and carried [...] difficulties, where at some other time and in an other frame they would have fainted: and thereby have seen, that none needs to start at any piece of duty, when God calleth them to it; for while difficulties have appeared greatest at first, the less they have found them afterward, yea, the hardest piece of service oft made most easy.

7. They find God doth raise the spirit of his follow­ers, with a suitable elevation for their work, and can fit them for the service of that time, and other tri­als thereof, even beyond their ordinary reach.

8. That there is an open door, and sensible assistance, when there hath been work for the Gospel in such a place; while, on the other hand, they have found an inhibition sensibly served on them, the door as it were shut, when the tide was going back, and the work of the Gospel at a stand in such a part.

9. That it is not greatest abilities, which make un­dertakings successful; it being in vain, to rise up ear­ly, without the Lord.

[Page 77] 10. It hath oft been their experience, that in follow­ing the way of God, his candle did then shine upon their paths, the Spirit of the Lord was with them, and sensibly poured out: the withdrawing whereof hath been no less discernable, while they turned aside from him; that they have then been put to bear the burden alone, and found difficulty and despondency of spirit at once growing upon their hand.

11. I may add, what those who are serious in Re­ligion have oft tried, that there is no such help and furniture for going about duties, as a spiritual frame, and nearness with God: for then light, and counsel, inward freedom, and sweet composure of spirit, have brought most sensible advantage to them: in their greatest, yea, and in their most common undertakings, this hath been very evident.

NINTH Instance, is that great promise; we have, Rom. 8. 28. That all things shall work together for good to them who love God. And Psal. 25. 10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep his Covenant.—I confess, it is not easy some­times to reconcile God's way and this piece of his Word together: those who take only an ordinary pas­sing view of providence, cannot well judge, how such things, wherewith oft the godly in their life are exercised, should contribute to their good and ad­vantage; while nothing would seem more directly cross to the same. But the Christian and wise ob­server can give another account: they know what a sure truth this is, that there is no real jarr betwixt the promise and providence of God in this matter; and what ever be the present thoughts, patient wait­ing hath had cause to say this,—

1. When his way and their thoughts have most differed, in the accomplishment of his Word and bringing about their mercy, they have found it was [Page 78] to their advantage; that his choice was always better then theirs; yea, they have been oft made to confess, that their saddest disappointments therein have tended to their further Benefit.

2. That the Lord's denying them some out­ward thing, which they have most desired, they have found (as afterwards hath appeared) was to grant them more than their desire; he hath refused them as it were in an Ishmael, that he might give them an Isaac.

3. They can oft say, they had been undone, if they had not been undone; that it was their mercy, the Lord took such a way to cast them in a fever, to pre­vent a lethargy; and by some sharp cross gave them a wound in the flesh, to cure and let out some gross impostume in their soul, which would have made their case worse.

4. How greatest shakings have helped their fur­ther establishment; so as they were never more con­firmed, than in that about which they have been most perplexed. Yea, they have also found this the Lord's way, to cure their frowardness and misbelief by some further addition to their cross: that when they would not believe, he hath caused them to come in upon a greater disadvantage; while as a small affliction hath made them impatient, a more heavy and pressing trouble hath been their cure, and helped them to keep silence under God's hand.

5. That the growing of difficulties in their way, and some further pressure in the trial, they have found was from the Lord in order to its removal, and to the bringing forth of some greater good: and that all visible grounds of confidence have been oft broken, but with this advantage in the upshot, that their mercy, they had it more immediately out of God's own hand; yea, that the less moderation there was whilst their trial hath come to an extremity, they [Page 79] have found it then upon the turn, and their hope and encouragement oft made to spring up therewith.

6. How the Lord's deferring their mercy, which they had oft sought, hath been indeed their mercy and advantage, which did always meet them in the season; yea, they must say, his way is always nearest, and waiting on God without making haste, doth truly make the quickest dispatch.

7. Their experience can also witness, how men's re­proach, and venting their malice that way to ruin their reputation, hath oft been the occasion, ordered by the Lord, to bring forth their further clearing, and vin­dication even by that very mean.

8. How by some sad cross he doth oft prevent a sadder; which though strange at first, they have been forced upon after-discovery to confess: The man, who riding in haste to the sea-port, to have passage over seas with a ship going then off, fell and broke his leg by the way, which was the saving of his life; for the ship, and all its passengers, perished in that voyage; yet this was a bitter astonishing providence to him for the present.

9. How their loss, even by some sad slip and fail­ing, in their spiritual condition, hath really tended to their further humbling and advantage; yea, that which brought them under some visible decay, as to the wonted lustre of their Christian profession hath helped them to grow more under ground, in the root and substantials of Christianity.

10. They can tell how those steps of the provi­dence of God, which seemed most cross to that de­sign he was carrying on, yea, looked like the very crushing of their hope, have oft been the very mean which hath wrought most effectually to bring about their mercy.

11. I shall add but this, as the Christian's witness to the truth of this promise; That the sharpest reproo [...]s [Page 80] have seemed the wounds of a friend, and most pres­sing straits made the mean for their further enlarge­ment; how the Lord hath brought them into some dark and plunging trial, which then looked like a fearful pit, that he might bring them out with ad­vantage, set their feet on a rock, and establish their goings; yea, that in the hottest furnace, they lost no­thing but what they might well spare, even some of their dross.

TENTH Instance, is that general promise made to Godliness, and those who make it their serious study, that it shall be great gain; that verily it shall be will with the righteous, for they shall eat the fruit of their labour, and in keeping of the command there is a great reward. 1 Tim. 6. 6. 1. Pet. 3. 12, 13. Psal. 19. 11.

This is indeed a great concerning truth; but a truth, which, I am sure, none who did ever make ear­nest of religion, will call in question. Many con­vincing experiments hath the Christian had thereof through his Life: such want not some diary and record, wherein they can cast up the advantage, they have reaped in close following of God and their duty; yea, from most remarkable providences they may oft say, This I had, because I kept thy precepts. Now, that this promise hath a large witness, I shall here touch some things, which I may with some con­fidence say, both in the present and in former times have been proved, and sealed by the saints in their ex­perience.

1. That they never more effectually consulted their good and advantage, than when they did with great­est singleness consult their duty, and least with flesh and blood: they did never more truely seek themselves, than in the practice of self-denial; yea, in what they intended God most, and least their own private inte­rest, [Page 81] they have therein found a very sensible advan­tage.

2. That a serious endeavour to walk before God acceptably, they have found still the best policy, even in the worst of times; and have found his way then very satisfying, while it was most their study how to please him: yea, they have been obliged to confess, that when the Lord's way was their choice, they have found it also their reward.

3. They have found more real joy & peace in with­standing temptations, than in any thing the temptation offered; and in laying their interest at God's feet, and their will underneath his, more than in all their carnal enjoyments. O the taste, and testimony of God's ap­probation! how sweet a smile is his, in whose coun­tenance Heaven lieth!

4. That inward peace and tranquillity of mind, a sweet calm and composure of spirit, doth as really attend a spiritual frame and walk, as the shadow the body; and their best and most comfortable days, wherein they have truly walked at liberty, have been when their heart was most subject to the Law, with a single respect to the same.

5. That Religion and a spiritual walk is the best friend, even as to a contented and comfortable life here in the World; and that they have then most freedom to enjoy themselves and their lot with satisfac­tion, when they most enjoy God: yea, that nearness and communion with him tendeth to the sublimating and refining of their natural spirit, and hath been an observable help to their very common abilities and parts.

6. That there is truly a reality in the blessing, which maketh a small thing signify much, and yield more than greater abundance.

7. That when they give God their heart, it is then sweet and matter of satisfaction, to observe his [Page 82] ways; and the observation is very refreshing, how far the Lord condescends to their desires, when they sum them all up in himself, and make him their delight.

8. That the pleasure of Religion is in the practice thereof; and the way to have Religion easy, is to be throughly religious. Duty is then sweet, when men do it from an inward principle; and holiness would be a more pleasant work, yea, a reward to its self, if there were less mixture of hypocrisy.

9. That real humility, and walking low in their own eyes, and before God, did never lose to them re­spect and credit from men; but self-abasement doth observably go before lifting up, and true honour followeth such, who least hunt after vain applause from the World.

10. That when they were most faithful to observe and improve a little, then for their encouragement more hath been added; and they never wanted matter and motive to be thankful, when opportunities were im­proved and taken hold of for that end: yea, they have found there is a mercy within a mercy, and some pe­culiar mercy in every cross, which is only found and brought forth by the exercised serious improver of the same.

11. That much sincerity hath also much sense fol­lowing the same; secret honesty before God hath met them openly before men, and faithfulness in Christian freedom purchased them more favour and respect, even from the worst, than when they studied most to please them in a sinful way.

12. That they never saw so clearly the gain and real advantage of Godliness, & what a difference there is betwixt those that serve God, and those that serve him not, as in a time of trouble and strait; how then tenderness in their former walk, and that which they entertained in the morning, doth now meet them at [Page 83] night, and pay them home with advantage in an hour of temptation.

13. They have been forced to observe, that there is an invisible guard about his People in their duty; that the Ministry of the Angels towards such is no delu­sion, and have oft been made to wonder how hazard within an hair breadth hath been prevented; relief, and help come as betwixt the bridge and the water; how they have been sensibly preserved amidst greatest dan­gers, while (as it were) an inhibition hath been served upon these, that they should come near, but not hurt, and only meet with them, that they might read their preservation from them.

14. That an enlarged heart doth meet with an en­larged allowance; and bearing burden with others of the People of God, hath helped to make their own pri­vate burden the lighter.

15. That real Godliness and Religion hath as much in hand, as it may be a reward to its self; which beautifieth the soul, and maketh the face and conversation to shine with an observable lustre; that guardeth and preserveth the heart from many vexing crosses, preventeth sad strokes and sorrows, that others are pierced with, who will follow their idols, and the ways of sin, which are bitter in the close.

In a word, this is surely found, that God is the best friend; and when there is peace with him, things without do not offend: but they shall then understand what it is to be in league with the beasts of the field and stones of the ground, having a sweet agreement with all the providences and dispensations that come in their way.

V. That the Scripture-Threatnings have also a certain accomplishment, are found to be sad earnest, and do not fall to the ground, the Christian can also seal from his experience.

[Page 84] We are not here to understand the threatnings of vindictive wrath (from which believers are freed in in Christ) but of a fatherly displeasure, which because of sin may draw deep, yea, bring forth very dreadful effects, to witness that it is an evil and bitter thing to depart from God, and that their own doings shall chas­tise them; and these threatnings of the Covenant, If thy children forsake my Law, I will punish their trans­gression with rods, &c. (Psal. 89. 30.) are sure truths, which want not in every time a performance.

To clear this (ere I speak any thing particularly) I would premise some things to be considered.

1. That the word is a perpetual rule, which in eve­ry time must take place; and though affliction is a peice of the common misery of man, yet doth it not arise out of the dust, neither fall out at an adventure, but doth oft visibly follow the tract of sin (as a Huth-hound*) pointing at such evils as the cause, by the stroak, and at the truth and fulfilling of the threat­nings, written upon both.

2. We should adore his soveraignty, whose way both in the measure and manner of his People's chas­tisement is so various, as that none can infallibly con­clude, what he is to do in such a case; I mean, we are not to limit the Lord to such a way and method in his working: yet, this we may assert and firmly conclude, that not only the threatnings of the word have a performance, but men may also have even beforehand some more than probable conjecture, yea, a clear discovery, what such a case doth threaten, and what will be the issue of a sinful course, by considering the Lord's ordinary procedure, both with themselves and others; how sin hath very sad effects, and his way in all ages is still uniform, agreeing with its self, and with the word.

[Page 85] 3. Though a gracious state doth surely priviledge from wrath and condemnation, yet not from afflic­tion, and sad stroaks of divine anger because of sin; for he taketh vengeance on men's inventions, even when he will spare the inventors.

4. The Lord doth oft contend with his People for their folly and miscarriages, more severely than with others; and will not overlook in them, that which he passeth by in the World, without being a reprover; but when light and love and the Law will not hedge up their way, he will set briar [...] and thorns before them, yea, speak by chastisement upon their bones, to with­draw men from their purpose.

5. It is known, how very deep the holy Anger of God may draw against his children, even sometimes to pursue them out of the land of the living, and fol­low them to the grave, with some remarkable stroak; yea, it hath made them dreadful examples of judgment in this life, for whom he hath accepted an eternal sacrifice in Christ.

6. I shall add, this is the Lord's blessed end in making out his threatnings against his People, that they should not perish with the World. O! what a blest exchange is it, that the flaming sword, which once stood to guard the tree of life, doth now stand as it were in the way of the saints, to keep them from running into the paths of death.

Having premised these things, I shall now instance some particular evils, wherewith the godly are ready to be overtaken, which the word doth expresly threat­en, and hold forth the hazard of, both as to outward and spiritual stroaks, and give in here the Christians witness from their experience, in all ages, of the truth of these threatnings.

FIRST. Security and carnal confidence, which we find the word doth threaten, is one evil where­with Christians are ready to be overtaken; but they [Page 86] do also know by sad experience, what bitter fruit this brings forth, and that therein the word falleth not to the ground, which is held forth in Hos 2. 1, 9. Hos 7. 9. Isa. 30. 16, 17.

First, that a secure condition is the usual forerunner of some sad change; that when they are most at ease in a dull and dead temper of spirit, some sharp rousing dispensation is upon the back of it; either a gross sin, or a searching cross, as a thorn in the bed of their se­curity, to drive them to their feet.

2. That seldom-reckoning with conscience, the run­ning on of counts for some time upon their hand, doth ravel their case, unto a sad confusion, and maketh it a bitter and heartless work to retire alone, or within themselves; yea, hath a most direct tendency to a further hardening, and real desert of their duty.

3. That when security and deadness groweth with­in, it quickly maketh them dry up and wither with­out, in the external performance of duty, and in that vigorous lively appearance, which did formerly brighten their walk and carriage before others, so as very by­standers may read the languishing of grace, in the dead exercise of their gifts.

4. That going about duty with most confidence in themselves doth usually give them the most clear dis­covery of their weakness yea, when they have least lookt for any cross, they have then been sure to meet with it, with that sad addition, of being a surprizal in a secure condition: whereas, on the other hand, they may tell what refreshing disappointments they have got, where some trials have been most feared and lookt for.

5. That secure sporting with a temptation may soon turn to sad earnest; they have found it very hard to dance about the fire, and not be burnt: and the temp­tation, which at a distance seemed small, upon a nearer approach they have found had more bands on their [Page 87] heart, and was another thing than they could have be­lieved.

6. That the means, whereon they have laid most weight, they have also found to have given them the saddest disappointment: the putting of them in God's room, and out of their own place, hath been the way to cause them to miscarry; yea, to turn their cross. Whereas they have oft seen some thing unexpected, made the mean of their help, that they might know means are ordered of the Lord, and are useful, be­cause he maketh them so.

7. Their experience can also witness, that carnal confidence despising the trial at a distance, is usually punished with carnal diffidence and despondency of spirit under the same; one extremity made the punish­ment of the other, like the hot and cold fits of an ague, which do mutually make one the other more intense: yea, that their immoderate confidence and expectation of a thing, hath after resolved in as im­moderate discouragement as their stroke.

SECOND. The Christians Unwatchfulness and intermitting in the exercise of that so necessary and commanded duty, we find the Word threateneth, and holdeth forth the hazard thereof, Lest ye enter into Temptation, the verifying whereof their experience can also witness. Luk. 21. 34. 36. Matth. 26. 41.

1. That it is not easy to guide their walk and con­versation, when their guard over the heart doth slac­ken; but the giving loose reins for a little may make such a sad and large breach, that many (many) days will not easily make up: yea, they do also know, how a sensible withdrawing of the Spirit, and drying up their life and liberty, is the usual fruit, which un­watchfulness brings forth.

[Page 88] 2. That this helpeth to make their sun-shines transient, and causeth a low ebb after the greatest en­largement, whilst they do not guard against their pe­culiar evils; and that usually there doth haunt such a condition the swelling of the flesh (when the spirit is most enlarged) which will soon put them as far behind, as they formerly thought themselves at an advantage.

3. That when once the heart lieth open, it is quick­ly seised on and made a prey; with what a bitter sting doth it return: after it hath taken liberty to wander? yea, doth find there is a swift progress, that sin hath from the thoughts to the rolling of it to the imagination, and thence to the affection, wherewith it is more easy to engage, than to shake this off.

4. That unwatchfulness hath oft turned the most special times and opportunities for advantage, to the greatest loss; which, through their neglect of these, hath put them further behind, then they were: it hath turned their retirement and solitude, to be their snare; made the desert worse and more dangerous, than the city; and made them find, that vain thoughts, the following whereof seemeth pleasant to the mouth, will prove gall and wormwood in the belly; there being no sadder company, than a man's spirit let loose upon it self, whilst they cannot stop that current, whereto they had given a vent.

5. Their experience of this can witness that un­watchfulness hath an undoubted tendency to cast of prayer. How hard is it, in the evening to retire to God, whilst the heart is abroad all the day? To be Religious in Worship, when men are not so in their walk; Yea, they do find, that this will bring their distemper within, out of doors; to some disorder, im­pertinency or passion in their words, or outward com­munication: a thing, which experience may tell, doth [Page 89] wound the soul, make a sad breach in their peace, and doth quickly overcloud the Spirit, and unfit them for communion with God, and going about of spiritual duties.

THIRD. To restrain Prayer, and neglect calling on God, is an evil also which the Word doth threaten, and hold forth the same hazard thereof, as of unwatch­fulness, lest ye enter into temptation; yea, that this is even a step to the casting off fear, the Christians ex­perience, from frequent trial can witness, that this Scripture threatning is true, Matth 26. 41. Job. 15. 4.

1. That they have found this the rise, which giveth life and increase to their prevailing evils; and that corruption then is upon a sensible growth, as the lively exercise of prayer begins to be intermitted.

2. That this weareth out their spiritual life, and bringeth a consumption upon the vital spirits of Chri­stianity; so that those who sometime flourished, and kept green (as by the scent of water) that correspondence, which they had with the fountain of their life, while his dew did lie all night on their branches, hath through neglect of prayer been brought to a poor shadow; so al­though sometimes the greatness of their loss and dis­temper hath been hid from themselves, yet might be easily discerned by lookers on.

3. That wearing out of prayer and of delight therein will quickly make them disrelish any other piece of Religion; put them out of frame to meditate, or to give thanks, or entertain fellowship with the Saints; yea, the more lively and spiritual these are, it maketh them the more a burden and torment to them.

4. That wearing out of this is a strong temptation to a further forbearance, and will sensibly wear them out of any sense of their need hereof, and make them strangers to themselves and to their own case: [Page 90] so that they shall find, the less they are in this exer­cise, the further they shall be indisposed; and the fewer errands they have, the less felt necessity of the same.

5. Their experience can also witness, that little pray­er maketh a heavy burden; doth multiply their straits; and cause their care to grow, as this is abated they must then bear their burden alone, and with heaviness take counsel within themselves, while they ply not this blest tried remedy, to make their requests in all things known to God.

FOURTH. We find the Word doth threaten D [...] ­ [...]ction from the Truth, and turning from the way of God in a time of trial, as an evil, into which those that are kept by grace from final apostasie, may yet thro' the violence of a temptation fall. Jerem. 9. 13. 15. Psal. 89. 30, 32. Jos. 8. 11. and their sad ex­perience can witness the truth of the Scripture-threat­nings concerning this also, while they have found,

1. That in one day they may adventure on that, which through most of their life they have not got over, but it hath made them go with their back bo­wed down to the grave: that their giving the Lord's work a wrong touch, is one of those things which doth scarcely leave them all their time; but, beyond other sins, they have found this still come up with a bitter and heavy reflexion: yea, in the evening of their life they have found this so sore on their spirit, that it could not lie hid or silent, but they were forced to witness their sense of it before the World, ere they could obtain any ease.

2. That this the Lord doth usually meet, with some sharp and publick reproof, even before men; that though he pardon his People, yea, give some sen­sible intimation thereof to their souls, yet he hath no past them, as to some visible mark of his displeasure because of such a thing.

[Page 91] 3. They see, that a crooked and uncleanly way proves not the mean of extricating them out of trou­ble; but their straits have been made to grow there­with: yea, they have found, that which they eschew­ed in God's way, hath more sadly accosted them in another road; and that there is a thick dreg in the bottom of the cup, which maketh it worse to drink thereof at the close, than at the beginning.

4. That it is not easy to make a stand in turning aside from the way of God, when once they are en­gaged; a retrograde motion is very violent, and yield­ing in a little will bring with it some necessity of go­ing further, as a judicial stroke.

5. That foregoing of some clear opportunity, to give a testimony for the truth, when called thereto, hath turned to be their judgment, that they should not have further access, or be made useful that way; a thing truly obvious to such as are wise to observe the judgments of God in their time; yea, likewise that publick backsliding doth oft visibly wear men out of personal tenderness.

FIFTH. Unsubduedness of spirit, and w [...]nt of mor­tification to outward things, the Word doth clearly threa­ten, and hold out its hazard; the accomplishment whereof Christians experience can witness. Rom. 8. 6, 7.

1. That God hath oft turned their id [...]l to be their cross; put a mark of his jealousy on their dearest things, when once they put them in his room▪ yea, frequent observation of the Lord's way, both with themselves and others, doth shew, if they would be quit of a thing, they may set their heart immoderately on it; such eagerness and exorbitancy of affection be­ing a sure presage, it shall either be their judgment, or sorrow, or cease to be.

[Page 92] 2. That outward things did never yield less, than whilest they prest them most: that when they are eager in pursuit of the World, and satisfaction there, their spirits are sensibly hurried with many perturba­tions; so that they must say, that which keepeth them from enjoying of God, doth also hinder the comfortable enjoying of themselves.

3. They have found, that flow advance in the work of mortification, hath at last doubled their smart; and been the procuring cause of some very sharp cure, when the disease did come to that height, that a small and ordinary potion could not do the turn.

4. That immoderate desire and pressing after an out­ward thing, they have sometime got answered, but therewith a sharp reproof from the Lord; yea, usually have found small satisfaction in their enjoying that, about which they were so unsober in their pursuit. Give me children, or else I die, said Rachel; she ob­tained children, and she died in bringing one of them forth.

5. Their experience can also witness, how over­caring anxiety hath oft caused things to thrive worse under their hand; whilst they found never a more satisfying issue in a particular, than by a quiet submissive dependance on the Lord for the same.

SIXTH. The doing violence to light, and sinning against conscience, as it is clearly threatned in the Word, so likewise the sad effects thereof have been clearly witnessed, in all ages. Prov. 29. 1. Psal. 81. 11, 12.

1. What a direct tendency this hath to the further darkning of their light, and to a judicial hardning; and that reproofs not entertained, do usually become less frequent, yea, less pungent and searching; their heart then doth not so easily smite them, and put tears in their eye, as sometimes a word, or se­cret [Page 93] rebuke of the conscience, would have done: so as they can now digest greater things, who would some­times have stood at that which comparatively was very small.

2. That when they would not read their bosom-dis­temper, which both by the word and conscience was pointed out, others have got leave to read the same written on their forehead; and the shifting off of dis­covered guilt, and of all serious endeavour to get the quarrel taken up in secret, betwixt God and them, hath brought the matter at last to some publick hearing, even before the generation.

3. That their darkening of their light upon some private interest, while they would again and again en­quire if such a thing be warrantable, concerning which the Lord had once cleared their mind, is a most perillous thing; yea, hath got an answer according to the idol of their heart, and their choice made to be their judgment.

I shall but add, what bitter and sad experience can tell, how dreadful it is, to give the conscience a blow, which is more easily hurt than healed: that delibe­rate, adventuring on the occasion of a temptation, when they would go to the high priest's hall, without warrant or a call, hath cost them dear; and they have found that bold sinning doth afterward make saint be­lieving.

(¶) I know, it is by serious and experienced Chri­stians, and by these only, that this argument in the meaning thereof can be reached; and it is sure, such will not debate the same, who know the truth, and have it dwelling in them, and on another ground than report, are established in its certainty. For these can witness, what sweet comforting hours they have had with Jesus Christ, in a sad uncomfortable time; [Page 94] that he hath both spoken, and himself also hath done it: and such must therefore seal his word & the truth thereof, because he hath sealed it on their heart; yea, doth so surely know, it is God who worketh all their works in them, that with their last words and dy­ing breath they have confidence to assert this, and commend that excellent study of godliness to o­thers.

I know, that with a great many of the World this grave convincing argument of experience hath no weight; for strangers intermedle not with that joy, and therefore fancy it a pure fiction, as the only ex­pedient and preservative to their heart from the horror and inexpressible torment, which must seize on them, if the certainty and necessity of godliness were granted; these scoff at this excellent thing, as some vain conceit or distemper, because they would have it so. But with such I must here crave a serious and free communing; yea, in so great and concerning a business must obtest, that they would not shut their eyes, but allow reason that weight, they would do in any other case. O what do you alledge, on what ground do you reject this great witness of experience? If you deny it, because you have not found it, do not others assert this, because they surely know it? And their assertion hath these two advantages; (one) that they once had the same sentiment and opinion with you, which now they reflect on with much hor­ror. (2.) The reality of its effects on them proves both the reality of the cause, and the excellency thereof. And now if these be indeed serious, and their testimo­ny true, whom you thus challenge, are you not in a sad and dreadful case; since you cannot think to lodge together at night, or that your interest and theirs will meet in another world, which hath been so very opposite here by the way! You must surely part with these at death, and land at some other port, to [Page 95] whom all your life you have walked so cross! O sit but with your selves alone, and consider this; you [...]ate serious Religion, and therefore you reproach it: will you take such a revenge on your selves, and out of prejudice to it, run on so great and eternal a ruin? But know assuredly, it is not what you jud­ged, and if once you pass (in this delusion) that great and last step betwixt time and eternity, you are un­done, oh undone for ever! And sure, if you admit the authority of the Scripture, you cannot debate the Christians experience; while there you have so great a cloud of witnesses, who bear that same testi­mony; but it is on your self you must reflect (not on the truth) that you know so little in this way.

Now, to leave some Conviction on the Atheists of this time, and those who take liberty to scoff at seri­ous Religion, I would here offer some rational Grounds; which even to the World and bystanders may convincingly demonstrate, if they would but con­sider the same in earnest, that this testimony the Saints do in all ages bear, from their experience, to the truth, can be no cunning device or falshood, but is most cer­tain and sure. For

1. That must be a sure testimony, and is no cheat, if you judge that those who declare the same, have the sense of a Deity, and have any truth, or moral can­dour. For it is a clear dilemma: either such, whose witness this is, are impostors of the highest degree, yea, in Atheism and gross deceit must exceed all the world beside: or, it is true and valid, what they witness. Now, for the first, I shall crave no more in their behalf, but an appeal to your conscience and sober thoughts, if you could judge thus of them.

2. This testimony must be sure, if you but allow those the use of judgment and reason, who bear it, and do not judge them wholly demented: for it [Page 96] were a strange & unheard of madness, that men should pursue a shadow with so great seriousness, and on this interest venture so far, if Religion and the power thereof were not a reality [...] Sure, one of these two must hold; if Christians do not experience them­selves what they hold out to others, that they are either in the highest measure profligate and wicked, even beyond the ordinary rate and depravation of humane nature; or they must be under a strange madness and delirium. They must either design to cheat the World, or themselves, but though their adversaries could wish to have it so, I think their malice will not make them so mad, as to own that challenge: and since these cannot be alledged, I profess were I the greatest Atheist, who did not own the Scripture, I could not seriously consider the way and walk of such who are tender Christians, without astonish­ment; or conceive how in such a world and so many visible disadvantages they should be thus engaged, on any other consideration, than the truth and reality of Christianity.

3. Do you not see, this is their testimony, who are willing to be tried therein, and render a reason of that hope which is in them? yea, do in this offer themselves to trial, and with greatest seriousness obtest the the world, not to credit implicitly their witness, and take it on trust, but themselves put it to the most exact inquiry and search! And truly, if there be an appeal and reference to men's sense and feeling, which can admit no debate, I know not what ground they have to question this witness, until they first put it to an essay, that from their own experience they could contradict the same.

4. Should you not admit this for a sure testimony if you grant any moral certainty of a thing, that there is some case wherein a humane testimony can allow no debate, which in this present case must be un­denyable; [Page 97] for you know by two witnesses a matter is judicially established: but is it not more confirm­ing when they are of known judgment and integrity [...] yea, out of diverse and remote places of the earth, and otherwise strangers amongst themselves, but yet more, not only when dying they own and assert this, but are willing to die upon a testimony thereto, and seal it with their blood, and this also through all ages renewed? O what can be more convincing as to moral certainty! Now I do attest the world, if this argument of Christian experience have not as full and unanswerable proofs of its certainty.

5. This witness can be no counterfeit, and you must judge they are worthy of credit, to verify the Scripture from experience, on whose practice you see it so convincingly transcribed. Should not the declara­tion of such about the truth of the promise, have much weight, whilst you see what a serious respect these have to the rule; to have their walk ordered in that way, where the Scripture warrants them to ex­pect the fulfilling of the promise! And are not these seen to be the most tender serious Christians, whose way useth to have greatest authority over your con­science, who do most own this witness, and hath the largest account to give thereof?

6. Is not this their testimony also, whom on your exactest and most narrow notice, you may see study Religion in the secret and retired duties thereof? where some other interest, than the observation of men, must be an incitement. Yea, may you not observe there are such, who do seriously own the practice of these duties, when the view of those about them might be a greater hinderance and ground of fear, than any perswading motive? And whilst you challenge the light profession of many within the Church, do but also ask your conscience, if there be not others, whose way you must justify, even in spite of your hatred [Page 98] and prejudice against them, that it hath a convincing savour of humility? yea, there growth unde [...] ground, and being serious and real in what they pro­fess, may be clearly discerned from a naked and emp­ty shew.

7. Can those intend, by such a testimony, to deceive others, who have oft been in so great fear and disquiet, that they be not themselves deceived? O how convincing may this be to the world, [...] consider what perplexing queries and doubts Christians have some­time about their own inward case; yea, after such sharp wrestlings, a most sweet calm and composure of spirit may be discerned. It is strange this puts not Atheists to a more serious inquiry, what such changes can mean, which will make men differ so far from themselves, whilst no outward cause can be discerned. It is true some matters lie much under ground; the heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy; yea, the deepest plunge and exercise may make little noise without: yet this is sure, there is so much under these vicissitudes, that is obvious, even to the view of lookers on, as may leave some conviction, that their enjoyments must be true and real, when the want thereof is so sensibly felt; and the world is not so stupidly in­advertent, not to observe this, if they did not shut their eyes for fear of such a discovery.

8. Should not their testimony be very convincing, whose complaints and challenges you may find more at home upon themselves, than against others; who are oft bemoaning over those evils, which the eyes of man could not reach? may not the world see how some are prest with anguish of soul, to the wasting of of their body, when no cause from without is known, and otherwise rational and most composed? Yea, may it not sometimes be discerned, there is more smother'd within, which gets no vent, than appears without? [Page 99] for grief in earnest wants not some peculiar marks, by which it may be witnessed to others. I think, this should put the world to such a reflection, there must be some grief and joy and a cause for it, which goes above the world or the things thereof.

9. This is their testimony, whose confidence and composure of spirit, in the greatest exigences, may witness to others that perswasion they have of the truth within their own souls. You see also at what labour and work these are in the duties of Religion; yea, when they are most serious, how native and unconstrained their motions are. O doth not this shew, the grace of God and a new nature is another thing than words; and that they must surely find sa­tisfaction in these duties, which makes that a special delight and pleasure to them, which you would reckon an intollerable and sore toil.

10. Do you not see how these agree every where and at every time in this testimony, that the Scrip­ture is verified by experience, and the breathings and influences of God on the Soul meet them in the way of duty according to the promise, even whilst they most remarkably differ amongst themselves in their natural temper and disposition? And is it not known whatever particular and lesser differences, through the prevalence of corruption, are too frequent a­mongst these, yet no challenge, no reflection on the truth in reality of godliness in it self, will be found when their challenges are most bitter one up­on another? I must further attest your consci­ence, whilst you have heard the sad Moans of dying Christians about the interest of their soul and short-coming in the study of godliness, have not these com­plaints been still to commend Religion, and the excel­lency thereof, and reflect only upon themselves? but none ever was heard to have such a complaint, that [Page 100] they did cheat the world in that matter, by obtrud­ing upon them a falshood.

11. May you not see this testimony which Christians give to the way of godliness, that it is from those who act deliberately in that great interest, and have a rational account to give of the grounds on which they walk? Do you not find they are Men, as well as Christians; and that none are more friends to reason and the right exercise thereof, than such who are most serious in the study of Religion? It is sure, could the world have their sight, and with Moses such a look of an invisible God, it would be easy for them to be of their judgment also.

12. That you are so ready to challenge the Christian's testimony, may you not find the true cause within your self; not from your judgment, but a rooted prejudice and enmity at the way of the Lord, where­of you can give no reason? Yea, have you not oft reproached Christians at a distance whom upon a more near particular acquaintance you have from some irresistible conviction left upon you, been forced to justify? For godliness hath this singular advantage, to silence all its adversaries, that none will challenge or reproach the same, but those who never knew it: and should such a witness be admitted? O strange, with what liberty men can deride this, who yet dare not go alone to have some serious thoughts about it!

13. I know you will not deny there is such a thing as hypocrisy and a false shew of godliness; yet sure you have no ground of challenge, or to question the truth and power of this, which is so con­vincingly witnessed to, even by hypocrisy; for there should be no use for such a cover, no cause for that imposture, if there were not also a truth and reality therein you cannot conceive a counterfeit, but as it stands related to that which is true. If there were [Page 101] not such a thing as serious godliness, the world could never have known how to personate it. Could there be a lie, if there were not a truth? You see also it is the most serious discerning Christians, that such usually do fear and have an awful regard of; for which there were no ground, if they were not con­scious of the truth of that in others, whereof they only study the appearance: yea, here I must also ap­peal the world and ordinary Observers, if there be not even to them, some discernable difference betwixt the power of Religion, and an empty shew, though this make greater noise; betwixt those who are serious and tender in following the Lord, and others who glory in appearance, but not in heart; for the one by a convincing manifestation of the truth do's commend it self to mens conscience, hath a living air and breath, which by no art or cunning can be drawn to the life, no more than an exquisite painter with the choicest colours, in drawing a dead man, can therewith draw the vital acts of breathing and moving.

14. May you not see, holiness must be some excel­lent thing, which hath such credit, even with it's real adversaries and the worst of men, as to make them grasp at the appearance and shadow of that, which o­thers know, they hate the power and practice thereof! And here I would ask the world, is it not to the Scripture and truth thereof, the experience of the Saints bears witness, that they do indeed feel and prove within their soul, what you see written be­fore you, in this blessed record? But is it not also sure, that nothing is more directly cross and oppo­site to the Scripture, than a false appearance, and shew of that which is not real?

15. Can you debate whether there are such Chris­tians in the world, yea, many such, whose experience do's witness the truth of religion, of whom it must be said (even their enemies being judges) their being [Page 102] serious in that way, and choice thereof, must be for it self, and hath no outward design or interest, to which it can be subservient, whilst in this oft they run the greatest hazard, and are rendred a prey to others? O must it not be a marvelous thing, which hath that dominion over the souls, to teach men the practice of self-denyal; not only to quit but to chearfully quit their nearest interest, to smile on the spoilers, to rejoyce in their suffering and reproa­ches, to forgive wrongs, and take revenge by good will! this is indeed above nature, and is peculiar to Christianity, which can also turn poyson to an ontidote and cure, and gain by its greatest losses.

16. You may see what different sizes are amongst the Saints, how great a difference also betwixt the experiences of one and another: some made to wit­ness much bitterness in departing from God, and others that singular advantage in drawing near to him; yea, how near sometimes will great extreams in their condition border with other! At a strait to express their joy, who not long before would have thought a vent to their grief a special ease; O must not this be a matter of Reality! and when you see how much these amongst themselves do thus differ, that yet all these differences meet together and concur in a most clear testimony to the Scripture, and truth of godliness; yea, how this wonderful contrivance of the Scripture is suted to answer all this variety of changes in the Christian's case, and passeth none over!

But oh, what can be said here, where weeping should be more fit than words, to see what contempt the greatest part of men put on serious religion, which doth truly raise them above the condition of the beasts! Is not the atheism of the time at that height that we must say, the assault of the adversary is not so [...] at one single truth, as at the root and being of all religion? And truly we may fear some sharp and [Page 103] extraordinary cure, to recover this generation, of a dis­ease, that would seem in an ordinary way incurable. I shall but further offer these few queries, and plead so far with the adversary, that they would, ere they pass them, have but some serious thoughts thereon.

(1.) If there be a God, or truth in any Religion, is it not with this blessed record of the Scripture you must close, as the alone rule thereof? yea, if your judgment and conscience be not both extinct, must you not consent to the law and doctrine therein held forth, that it is good, what ever be your aversion therefrom?—(2.) Is not an immortal soul and a being for ever, such a venture as is of more value, and should be to you, than the whole world?—(3.) O how can you be thus indetermined about so great an in­terest? you seem to be hesitant and unsure, if there be another world, a heaven or a hell: but oh, are you sure these are not? and how then can you be secur­ed from such a fear, which of all fears is the greatest? (4) What a horrid and uncomfortable thing is it to be an Atheist, which gives men no hope beyond this present life? Yea, what a world would this be to dwell in, if there were no true godliness in it, since without this, no comfortable humane society, no kindly and right subjection to the magistrate, can be expected from those, who have no tie from above, and know not what it is to pay homage to a sove­reign being. (5.) Is not the native tendency of Atheism to all ungodliness in men's practice? yea, how far doth it debase humane nature, and level it even with the beasts?—(6.) Whilst you scoff at serious Re­ligion, I dare appeal your selves, if in your retire­ments when you have any sober reflections, you are not forc'd to have other thoughts! and why is it, you [Page 104] so much fear to go alone, and be in any measure seri­ous with your soul; Oh what a desperate security is that?

I shall only add, is it not rare to find a professed Atheist, at death, when once the approach of another world does awake the sense of a Deity? But then it is easy to see men, who have sported at godliness in their life, weep over that wretched mirth, when it comes to death, and call for such Ministers, whom once they hated: and oh, what a dreadful cure will hell be of atheism! for there they know the truth in earnest, though it be their terror; it is also sure the Devil is no atheist, who believes there is a God, and trembles.

I must yet a little further crave liberty, ere I pass this argument, to speak a word even to those who know and have experienced the same, O how great should this be in our eyes, and with what astonish­ment may we consider it, which by so full, so satis­fying a demonstration doth witness, not to the eye or ear, but to the soul, the certainty of divine truth, and the power and reality of godliness! Should we not think, if there were but one in an age, or that every particular Christian were but once at some solemn time of his life, thus confirmed, that he could say, then did he taste and see the word, and found it surely ve­rified on his soul, as sure as he knoweth that he lives, at what a rate would he value and preserve so singular a seal and confirmation of the truth, yea, keep up the remembrance of such a special time whilst he lived? But oh, must it be said, that this grave wit­ness, this clear demonstration of the Scripture and of the certainty of the words of truth, which we have by experience, doth lose its weight, and the inestima­ble value thereof is to be less regarded, that it is the Christian's daily bread? O what a reach hath this ar­gument; what great things are there held forth? I [Page 105] think a serious View of the same, if it were brought near to us, might put us to question, whether we believe the same, or not? are we in a dream, or awake and see them with our eyes, which this doth so convincingly demonstrate? whilst we can so easily pass them, with so little weight thereof on our spirit. Now to hold that forth, let us but bring near this ar­gument, and gravely consider the same with respect to some of those great truths, which, by this unan­swerable demonstration of experience, are witnessed: I must say, such truths that we may wonder how men can so easily admit their being true, and in so ordinary a way look thereon without wondering and astonishment.

1. Doth not this argument of experience, by a ve­ry clear demonstration, witness that great truth of a Godhead, whereon the whole superstructure of truth and godliness doth stand? yea, in another man­ner do's enforce on men the perswasion of this by a more near and convincing discovery, then the grea­test works of God, or these glorious appearances of his power and wisdom in the heavens, and earth do! It is true, these bring him near to our eye and ear; but O this brings the blessed and invisible God nearer, into the heart and soul, that we may both taste and see, that surely He is, and is that which in the Scripture he is declared to be. It is not the con­templation of nature, in its highest slight, can answer such an assault of the Devil, which may exercise the most established Christian about the being of God; but there is a demonstration within, which goes fur­ther than the judgment, and passeth natural understand­ing; whence we feel, we taste, we enjoy, yea, his voice is heard in the soul, which we surely know [...], and this is the reach and import of this argument. There is indeed cause to wonder at the atheism of the world, since men can look no where, [Page 106] without some witness of a Deity, to stare them in the face; but oh, there is a more refined atheism, that lies in the bosom of a professed assent to divine truth, and is not easily discerned, though not the less dread­ful that it goes under a cover, not only from the view of others, but even from a man's self—I would here offer some things, which do witness a special advantage the godly man is at thereby to believe, and to be more throughly perswaded of the glorious being of God. (1.) That he finds the believing of this is a very great thing, and not so easy to reach, as the world do suppose. For it is no small matter even to attain this: Oh, what ordinary thoughts have ma­ny about it, who think it easy to pass an assent to this marvelous truth, because they never considered the greatness thereof; but it is sure, the more serious and grave a Christian is, it will give him the more work, and we may find these usually are more plung­ed and exercised about this, than others.—(2.) It is a great advantage, when this is so far men's serious stu­dy, as to be upon an inquiry after a further establish­ment in so great a truth; O what another sight of the invisible God? What a satisfying perswasion of his blessed being might we have, if our soul were indeed herein exercised; and knew but how little we know and have reached in this, that there is a nearer approach to God, which should shew us, the faith of a Deity is something beyond those former thoughts we have had thereof! We lose many singular con­firmations about this, because we do not in earnest look after them.—(3.) They are at a special advantage to whom believing of this truth (O blessed truth, that God is) is their exceeding joy, and amidst their heaviness can say, the thought and meditation of him is sweet; that when through a variety of temptati­ons they are ready to faint, this restoreth their soul, yea, will cause it leap within for joy; and is their Enough [Page 107] when other encouragements are furthest off, that God lives! O what a thing is it in such a world, and in some deep perplexing plunge, to know that the Lord is God, whom he hath now for a rock and a shield, and in the close of time for his exceeding great re­ward! Can we have serious thoughts of this, and so easily turn our selves to other things without astonishment! yea, is it not strange, there should be oft so near and immediate a bordering betwixt our thoughts of the glorious God and the meanest trifle. (4.) It is no small advantage, where men can open the Bible and retire into it, under the sense and im­pression of a Godhead, and that near correspondence he hath this way with his people; on whose soul these words have aw and authority, Thus saith the Lord; yea, have that repose upon his testimony and promise, which the solid perswasion of his being and faithfulness should cause.—(5.) They have come a great length here, that in their ordinary walk are under some weight and impression of this that God is near; who knows their sitting down and rising up; from whose sight they cannot shift one thought; yea, that on him they have such an absolute dependance, that without him they can not draw their breath. O where this is believed, must it not cause both fear and wondering?

2. Is not this an argument, which by a sure and un­answerable demonstration do's witness the truth and reality of grace that there is such a thing, and is no empty sound, which doth raise man above the natural state of men, as far as reason puts him above the state of the beast! It is truly strange, this should be believed, and yet is not more marvellous in our eyes, how we can be at such rest, whilst one of these two lies under debate, the reality of grace, or our being really interes­ted therein. O is there not cause of astonishment, that such a product of heaven should be found in the earth, [Page 108] whose descent and original is so clearly demonstrated by its breathing upwards after God, its native tendency and motion towards him, whence it came? Surely grace is a great subject to think on; and that it is not so in our eyes, it must be either because we do not be­lieve it, or do not consider what a change it makes on the soul, which is no transient disposition, but the seed of God that remains. Is not this such a thing as makes spring in the winter, causeth men to grow under their greatest weights, lifts the soul up from the clay, yea does by bringing it low in its own eyes, raise it nearer God? This makes a man to have another appearance, on which the world is forc'd to look with some astonishment. One Christian doth ad­mire this in another; and the more it shews it self, it causeth a more near approach betwixt their souls. It will cause fear in them who hate it, and hath a power even over its persecuters. Now it is the truth and reality of this excellent thing, that this argument [...]o's witness; yea such a witness that can admit no debate, where experience makes it sure: I confess a serious view and perswasion of this might make the Christian's life a continued wonder: that there is such a thing, which by a marvellous surprisal did prevent him when he was not aware, hath entred him into a new world, and translated him from a state of dark­ness unto a marvellous light, causeth the soul to breath in another air, brings him so near that state of the an­gels, subdues the will without violence, and subjects it with its own consent; yea, by so strait a tie is link's with an eternal glory and blessedness! Surely this is one of the most stately pieces of the work of God, that exceeds the whole structure of the universe. O with what astonishment should we look on this mar­vellous thing, if we could consider the whole frame and structure of the grace of God in a Christian, and there make as it were a dissection in its several parts [Page 109] and proportions, its decay and languishing, its dif­ferent changes and sizes, its vigorous actings and abatements; how it breathes, is nourished, is kept green and preserved by a continued intercourse with the fountain of its being! and lo, whilst we consider this great wonder, both in the whole and in its parts, we may see how in these it do's most exactly answer that model we have thereof in the scripture of God.

3. This is a great argument, and should be so in our eyes, which do's not only witness the reality of grace in its acting and exercise (which in this for­mer section is specially pointed at) but do's unan­swerably demonstrate a spiritual life and being, which the Christian knows and is perswaded there­of, as he is sure he breathes and hath a natural life! O what a marvellous demonstration is this, wherein sense and feeling doth in as certain a way concur, as in any discovery we have by our outward senses, that there is a new life and another being, (besides that we have by nature) which answers to a new birth; yea, another breathing and acting, that is also suted thereto! but oh, can it be said, we believe and know it is assuredly true, who have such common and pass­ing thoughts thereof, and do not consider what it is whereof we are sure!—(1.) That this is so great a thing; it may indeed cause wonder, to think we are men, and that we have a rational being: but O a spiritual life is another cause for wondering, which comes not by our birth, hath no natural causes, yet a life that hath its proper operation, and vital acts put forth, as truly as these natural actions of breathing and moving are put forth, by a living man; a life that hath in as sensible a way quickning and refresh­ing influences, as the earth or bodies of men know the influences of the heavens; which hath a plea­sure and delight peculiar to its nature, that hath [Page 110] no affinity with things we enjoy by the senses, but is a pleasure do's far exceed the same! And is this a small matter to be perswaded of? (2.) What a demonstra­tion is it, which doth witness even to our sence and feeling a power on the soul by the word, above the most perswasive words of man, and above all moral influences; by which men are not only reached, but transform'd into the same image; whence the Christi­an knows, and knows assuredly, those great truths, the sealing, witnessing, teaching, comforting of the Spirit, &c. are no matter of words, or some strange devised names, but are undoubted realities acted and verified on the soul.—(3.) If this demonstration of a spiritual life be sure, have we not thus also an eter­nal life and being with God put beyond debate? for, if we be certain of the one, O is not this undeniable, that this noble being of the new creature, this life that is here begun, must have a more full growth, & be at the furthest stature of the man in Christ; when we now see it with our eyes in its infancy, and upon a growing advance towards the same? For the one is surely as demonstrative of the other, as a young child which we see in a growing tendency towards a man, doth shew there is a man in his furthest growth. (4.) If we assuredly know this Spiritual life, must we not also admit the undoubted truth of spiritual beings, and of an invisible world, with which this life hath its correspondence; yea, thus as by a stream be led up to the true fountain, to know an invisible God!

4. How great an argument is this, which gives us such a demonstration, that heaven is not altogether de­ferred until we be there, but that such a thing is sure now, as the real presence of the glorious God, and a near familiar approach of him to the soul, which is here as really felt and enjoyed, as we can be sure of any thing? O how marvellous should this be to us! I cannot doubt but the report hereof do's sometime [Page 112] a change on their soul, and composure of mind, that even by-standers might see where they have been! Now this is the Christian's witness, which all who are serious in the way of the Lord, can in some mea­sure bear, that in a way no less sure & demonstrative than any thing here beneath can be known, they have had such a discovery: and now these strange Scrip­ture-truths, the meaning whereof once they could not know (such as, to have their soul melting within at the voice of their beloved, to have his name as ointment poured forth, and be brought near to see his face with joy) they know well that they are as truly veri­fied on the heart, as they are written before their eyes in the word.—I shall but add, it is a very great thing these know, who know assuredly the real presence of God here; for thus they are made sure that He is, as one may know the sun, when he feels its warming heat, and when he sees it with its own light: thus they are confirmed of the truth of the Scripture, whilst they see and feel one of the most marvellous things therein verified.

5. This is an argument that do's clearly witness a truth and reality in Prayer; which may be called one of the great wonders of Religion: That such a way is, wherein there is so near so immediate an ad­dress to the Majesty of God in all our concernments, is not this a very great thing! that poor man, now upon the earth, hath such a passage to heaven, & may speak up unto him who inhabits eternity, the glorious object of the adoration of angels, without the inter­vening of any creature: yea, with so sure a war­rant may approach the throne of God, and there pour out his soul, and present his requests unto him who lives and sees! O with what astonishment should we consider this! suppose at some solemn times in our life this only might be attain'd, yea, that it were but in one part of the earth, should we not [Page 111] dazle the world with amazment, and puts the gross­est of men to strange thoughts. But oh, may not this make them question its reality, whether those that bear such a witness do truly feel and enjoy the same, who by their way and appearance do so little declare any deep impression, that this hath on them! I have sometimes thought it strange, how men are ta­ken even in a kind of transport with the discovery of some rare experiment and demonstration in nature, which could make that poor man cry out EUPEKA, as tho' therewith he had gained the whole earth! but O here is another kind of demonstration, of a more transcendent value and interest! to know and be sure of this near approach and intercourse betwixt God and the soul; that even with men in the earth he will verily dwell, and have so real a converse; this do's indeed rise above Archimedes reach, and such who ever follow'd the search of nature in their most exact and subtile inquiry. O blessed souls, who have found it! for they have found a treasure; the tho'ts whereof may make it a new thing every day, and make them consider this with a renewed wondering, to know, there is not only a claim and title to the inheritance above, but that the first fruits and earnest thereof is got here; that as surely as there is a real and immediate converse betwixt men, they have found such a near immediate fellowship with God, that all the words of the world cannot express; such a meet­ing betwixt him and them, where their soul hath been drawn out with desire, where they have found a breaking up of the day with an astonishing bright­ness, after a most cloudy and dark night; O is not this a great thing! Have they not cause both for joy and wondering, who have fallen on such an experi­ment, that they can say (and not from report) I do surely feel, I enjoy, I am perswaded this is the Lord; and thus have come forth from him with such [Page 113] look on the whole earth besides as accursed; and reckon an abode there, were it a barren desert and wilderness, to be preferable to all other advantages! It may truly be a question, whilst we are most in the practice of this duty, if we believe the truth and reality thereof: but it is beyond question, what Christians have most sensibly found here, that they can say, if they be sure they have a soul, they have been as sure, in this blessed way, they have had their soul re­stored and return'd again; and under some deliquium, that by wrestling they have at last prevail'd; yea, have got an answer from heaven, as if they had got it by an audible voice. Now is not this a great and marvel­lous demonstration!

But oh what common thoughts have we thereof! and may not these things seem strange, if seriously considered!—(1.) That we are not more restless, to be surely perswaded, this is a truth, when we are so high­ly concerned therein; that we may have further confirmations about this, which we should look on as an inestimable treasure, both for our joy and esta­blishment.—(2.) It is strange, we can find it so easy a matter to pray and appear before God; that we are not afraid, to be hasty in uttering a matter before him, whilst we consider God is in heaven, and we are but on the earth! It is sure, if we intend the bringing of our soul with us in such a duty, it should be more our study to watch unto prayer, throughout our walk.—(3.) It may seem strange, how easily we can step out from the world and the noise thereof, in before the Lord, without the least pause or time interven­ing, which the impression of so great a business should require; yea, so immediately, in our return, again step into the world, as if we had wholly for­got where we have been.—(4.) How strange is for­mality in such a business as prayer; which is an address to the living God, one of the most solemn acts of the soul; yea, we may call it the most natural work of [Page 114] a Christian, like the breathing of the child after the breast. Alas, it's sad, that this seems rather a piece of invention many times, than a matter of earnest with the Lord; not so much the breathing of the soul in desire after him, as the expressing what should be our desires. O to what a class can such a piece of A­theism be reduced, as appears in our formal approach­es to God?—(5.) Should we look on prayer as a duty, and not consider it as a singular enjoyment also; without which this earth would have a near appear­ance of hell, if we could not thus solace the soul in God, and get a vent under its greatest pressures? O prayer! What▪ thoughts should we have of it, if the truth thereof were more believed! I think, that man who is sure of the being and faithfulness of God, and of the reality of prayer, needs not be solicitous with what face the World look on him; when thus his great interest and encouragement is secure, and a well is at his hand, that can answer all his complaints.

6. Have we not this demonstration also by that Ar­gument of experience, how near the blessed Majes­ty of God do's in the way of providence approach to his people, and is surely known by a real correspon­dence he hath with them in this way, in which he do's so clearly verify his word, holds forth light and counsel, and gives the return of prayer, sometimes with such remarkable circumstances, as causeth fear as well as joy, and will force that testimony, This is veri­ly the Lord! It is true, that in the smallest things God is great, and thus declares himself to be God: but there is a more solemn and near approach, by some special steps of his providence: yea, by the r [...]d he doth sometimes speak, as with an audible voice, and with such a convoy of his power opens the ears of men and seals their instruction, as will force its passage down to the reins, and in the hidden part cause them to understand wisdom. There is sometime also [Page 115] so wonderful a tract and series of providences, and these so convincing, that men cannot but see some­thing greater than man therein, whilst things have been attended with such a surprisal, in the very op­portune time & season, that their mercy, though great in it self, hath not so much taken them up, as the way how it is brought about, and their discovery of the immediate hand of God therein, and the truth of his word and promise.

7. I must further add, O! is not this a great Ar­gument, which perswades the soul of these truths by so sure a way as experience, that thus we have an in­ward & sensible demonstration of the things of God, that are as certainly witnessed, as those visible Heavens and Earth are to our eyes, when they are most fixed there­on! O what is this, which the Christian knows yet knows so little what he hath thereby! This is in­deed a sight, which puts the thing seen beyond ques­tion or debates; for the soul hath its feeling & taste, as sure as the body; and hath a favour & relish of things suitable to its own nature, whereby it can discern a pe­culiar sweetness and fragrancy, in that which may seem bitter and grievous to the flesh. It is by this sight which experience gives, that the Christian is a witness himself, is therein personally concern'd, do's see these great things with his own eyes, and not with the eyes of others; the consolations of God, which are not small, are no matter of report to him; he knows how no mercy hath been more sweet and relishing, than that which hath had a bitter cross going before: yea, never more sensibly found his own burden, than he had found it taken off; the laying on whereof was not so grievous, as that relief and ease hath been sweet upon its removal.

Now to shut up this Argument, I shall but add the testimony of two great and eminent Witnesses to the truth; who after they had been helped to serve their [Page 116] generation by the will of God, and were dying, had a large account to give from their experience of the truth and faithfulness of God in his word, & have left a seal to the same, worthy to be transmitted to pos­terity. The one is that great Servant of Christ BEZA; who in his younger years, after the Lord had touched his heart by the word, was one day in the Church of Charenton, exercised with that 91st Psalm, which then was expounded, and with such power was followed, that not only he found it marvellous­ly sweet to him at present, but was then helped to believe, yea to a great perswasion of the Lord's making out all these promises to him in his perswa­sion, which as he after found verified, did at his death with much comfort witness the same; that as he had been then helped to close with that great truth in the second Verse, in taking the Lord for his God, and got a sure claim thereto, yea, that he should be his refuge and fortress, he had found him that most remarkably in the after-changes of his life; that he had delivered him from the snare of the fowler and [...]he noisome pestilence, having been in frequent ha­zard by the lying in wait of many to ensnare him, and sometimes was in great hazard from the pestil­ence in those places where he was called to reside; yea amidst the civil wars, which were then so hot in France, had most convincing deliverances from many imminent hazards, when he was called to be present sometimes with the Protestant Princes upon the fields, where thousands did fall about him; and thus whilst near his death, he found that Psalm so observably verified, whereon he was caused 'to hope, that he went through all these promises, declaring the com­fortable accomplishment thereof, and how he had found the Lord's giving his Angels charge over him, had oft answered him when he had called on him, had been with him in trouble, delivered him; yea [Page 117] had satisfied him with a long life. And now, says he, I have no more to wait for, but the fulfilling of that last word of the Psalm, to shew him his salvation, for which in confidence he longed. This, though not writ by these who have given an account of his life in our language; yet I had the same from those most worthy of credit, who not only from some of the greatest French Protestants had it, when they were in France, as a known and sure passage, but told me they read the same there in a printed relati­on in that language, about his life and death.

The 2d. testimony I shall here offer is from a grave an eminent minister of Christ in our own Church within these few years, Mr. GEORGE GILLESPIE; who near his death did declare to those who were by, what a large proof he had, and assured perswasion of the truth of the Scripture from experience; that he knew so well what adventuring on the word was, and what it was to live on divine assistance, and be thus in all his concernments carried through, that he could not desire, were he to live in the world, a more desirable and satisfying life, than that of a continued reliance and depending on the Lord: and truly amongst many notable experiments that man of God had thereof, this was one very convincing, how in a strange land, whither he was called on the service of the Church, and in a grave assembly of ma­ny of the greatest divines in that age, when one day he was surprised with an unexpected rencounter of a learn­ed Man Mr. Selden, who came on design, with some others of that party upon the Erastian interest, to debate for it, by the strongest arguments which they had then praemeditated for its defence; whilst none ap­peared in that great assembly to give a return, though there were many singularly learned and able, he did on an immediate reliance on God adventure (lest the adversary should take advantage thereat) and gave [Page 118] a short account of those arguments adduced, wherein the strength of his discourse did most lie, with so clear and satisfying an answer as astonished all; yea, did si­lence the adversary, with a marvellous conviction. Now this was the more convincing, that having a little paper-book in his hand, in which he was before ob­served to write down something, he was by some af­ter pressed to let them see his notes, supposing the heads of his following discourse were in it, but found only in some Pages these words several times writ down,—Light, O Lord, and assistance,—his soul being then carried upward for the same. Thus did that bles­sed man give in his witness to the truth, when he was dying, from the sure experience he had thereof, through his life; and with much assurance of the sal­vation of God, died. Which, I must say, is a remark, that in many instances might be obvious; how great peace and an abundant entrance, those have found in the close of the day, who have been helped to most faithfulness in the publick interests of Christ and his Church, and to the most severe adherence to their light, about the duties of the time; which I knew in another worthy Minister of Christ, not many years since, who by some of his last words did wit­ness an unexpressible joy he found in this, that the Lord had kept him in a time of many trials, from giving his Ark a wrong touch; which he then de­clared to standers-by, when he was on the very thre­shold betwixt this and another World. (¶)

[Page 119]

The SECOND ARGUMENT.

Our SECOND Argument, to demonstrate the accom­plishment of the Scripture, is this, that not only Christi­an experience, but the observation of the Church and people of God, doth in all ages bear witness thereto, how the Lord's way in these providences both of mercy and judgment, about the Church, amidst the various changes of her condition, yea, in the most strange things which fall out in the world, doth convincingly answer the word, and verify the same.

IT is indeed undeniable that the Scripture of God, as it is written to the personal case of his people, and doth in their experience take place; so is there a part of it in a peculiar way directed to the Church, the fulfilling whereof in the providences and events of the time should be the subject of our observation, and would singularly help to confirm our faith of the truth thereof.

For prosecuting this argument I would touch it a little in these three branches.

1. How these general promises which belong to the Church universal, and concern her in all ages, have an accomplishment.

2. How these threatnings also of the word, which do not only concern the Church, but have a respect to her adversaries, are certainly fulfilled, and take place in men's observation, who do observe the judg­ments of their time.

3. How the Scripture of God doth clearly shine upon the darkest footsteps of Providence, even these which would seem most strange and hard to under­stand, so that it may be demonstrate nothing falleth out in the world, or befalleth the saints, but what is most consonant to the Scripture.

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FIRST BRANCH. As to the first branch of this argument, I shall but instance five general pro­mises which we find held forth in the word con­cerning the Church; and endeavour to shew how very clear and obvious the accomplishment of them is, if men do not willingly shut their own eyes.

FIRST Promise, wherein we find the Scripture express, is the preservation of the Church: that he will be with her to the end of the World, and though he make an end of other nations, yet, will he not make an utter end of her, but while the ordinances of the sun, and the moon do last, and as the days of heaven, so shall her days be prolonged; against her the gates of hell shall not prevail. Jer. 30. 11. Math. 16. 18. Now that God hath truly verified this his pomise, and is as good as his word, is a truth, though marvellous, yet, so very clear, and manifest, that I am sure no atheist can deny, it may be so easily demonstrated.

First, that the Church doth continue, and is kept alive to this day, it doth certainly prove the truth of his promise. For it can be said of her, and none can say it is a lye, she hath outlived all her opposers, the greatest of whom have found their grave in the quar­rel, over whose tomb that last confession of a great ad­versary, Julian, may be written, vicistitandem, G [...]liloe [...] Hath not this deadly and irreconcileable seed been perpetuated from fathers to children! but who hath prospered in that enterprise! the archers have oft shot, and wounded her sore, but her bow doth abide in strength, as at this day, this is her motto, Persecuted, but not forsaken? cast down, but not discouraged. She who hath brought many children, yet ceaseth not to bear, whose age hath not marred her beauty, her eyes are not dim, nor her strength failed; a sight which may cause us no less to stand and consider this great [Page 121] wonder, then Moses did, at that which was but the shadow and emblem thereof, a bush burning, and not consumed. For, behold, a Church kept alive, yet, still in the flames! and when to appearance consumed, it doth arise more glorious out of her own ashes! This is indeed the only Phoenix, and we know no other, of whom that can be said. Hath she not born out those universal deluges, which did like an inundation go over her head, of idolatry and paganism in the first times, and Antichristianism with Arianism in the af­ter-ages; yet not swallowed up! Which may be no less marvellous, than when she was kept above the waters, in the ark: and though her enemies have oft sung her funeral song, and rejoyced over the dead bo­dies of her witnesses, yet, they have risen again; her dry bones have taken life, and come together; and behold she is alive at this day.

2. Not only the Churches preservation, but the continued series and succession thereof unto this time, doth witness the fulfilling of this promise: that in the darkest times of her condition, she hath not alto­gether disappeared, even, when she was so long hid in the wilderness, but still in every age had some witnesses; and though the Church hath oft cried out for the want of Children, and been heard weeping, bemoaning her self because they were not, yet, we may say she never wanted an off-spring to this day; she did never die without an heir, and seed of her own, to raise up her name, even since the Covenant was first made with her in Adam's family. And though particular Churches have their set times, which like the sun, have the usual periods, their height and flourishing, and afterwards a gradual decay, making way to the departure of light; yet, this made never void the promise of God to the Church universal, whose lamp was never put out, nay, shall not while the days of heaven do last.

[Page 122] 2. We must also say that the continuance and pre­servation of the Church is peculiar to her alone; and can be said of no other interest and party beneath the sun. For it is clear, that there was no Kingdom or Empire so firmly rooted, no society so well governed by Laws, backed with power, which hath had the best title and claim, but Time at last did prevail over it, and made the same a trophe of her con­quest; yea, the greatest Monarchies, and flourishing Cities have at last yielded, so as of them it may be said, Nunc seges est ubi Troia fuit. But time cannot to this day boast of a triumph over the Church of God: though no nation, no family in the earth could ever plead antiquity with her. This is that interest, which hath born out all those great revolutions, that so oft changed the very face of the world; yea, hath outlived so many Kingdoms and successions thereof.

4. It doth convincingly demonstrate the truth of this promise of the Church's preservation, that the World, yea, greatest Atheists may see, this hath not come to pass at an adventure; nay, not in an ordinary way of providence, but by a divine power most discernable therein: while it is so clear, (1.) That no interest, or party had ever such adversaries, as the Church, against whom the powers of World, and the powers of darkness have always been on foot.—(2.) That outward advantages have usually been on her adversaries side, not only the great men of the earth, but these of greatest parts, and ablities. (3.) That their will was never wanting to their power, and their de­sign no less than to raze her to the foundation.—(4.) That this enmity hath been rooted, and irreconcilable, which time to this day could never take up (5.) That no other interest did ever endure such violent assaults, so many sharp batteries: for it is observable, that most of the wars and commotions of every age have been some way stated on the Church's account; and [Page 123] what ever private quarrels men have had among them­selves, yet it hath not hindred the pursuit of their malice against the woman and her seed.—(6.) That such who have come out of her bowels, even the men of her own house, have oft been her greatest ene­mies, and lain in wait to take her at an advantage in the day of her halting.—(7.) That her real friends have oft fainted in a time of her strait, and stood [...]far off; yea, almost none of the Children, which she had brought forth, have been then found to take her by the hand.—(8.) That the depths of Satan, in her enemies, as an angel of light, have sometimes given her a sore assault; so that if it had been possible, and ordinary Means could have reacht their end, they should have deceived the very elect.—(9.) I must add this further witness to the marvellous preservation of the Church, which in an ordinary way could not come to pass▪ that we find no other party was ever brought so low and near death, and be yet alive. The knife was once at the Church's throat in Isaac; she did seek to adopt a bond-woman's son, instead of a lawful heir, when Abraham agreed to Sarah's overture for the outma­king of the promise; how near exspiring do we find her in Egypt, when a sentence to destroy all her male issue was gone forth? Yea, what but a miracle could have preserved her, when she was betwixt Pharaoh and the red sea? How low was the Church in the wilderness, and after in the days of the captivity, even broken to pieces with small appearance of life, when her face was all blured with weeping, and her ene­mies made sport over her ruins at the rivers of Baby­lon, when the Children of Edom cryed out, let us raze her even to the foundation? Yea, could the Church be nearer the grave, than when her bones were scattered at the graves mouth; but above all in that dark night, when her head and shepherd was smitten, and her hope seemed to be buried in the grave [Page 124] with a stone put upon it; when she could get no enter­tainment among the Jews, was wounded in the house of her friends, and the Gentiles in wrath rose up against her; that for some hundred years the great Empire, which had trod down all the nations about, put forth the utmost of power and malice for her undoing! O who could have thought the Church should outlive this? Yea, after all we find her tost and hurried by Antichrist into the wilderness, an ad­versary more cruel than any that had gone before, where the Dragon watcht to get her destroyed: but how in all these, and through that long dark night, she hath continued, and marvellously flourished, as the palm-tree, under greatest weights; so that we cannot but see that which her enemies (being judges) will not deny, that this promise to the Church, of her preservation, is this day fulfilled; yea, that it hath not in an ordinary way been brought about. Surely there is no inchantment against Jacob, nor divination against Israel; all her enemies have been found liars; happy art thou above other People; for the eternal God is they refuge, and underneath are everlasting arms! Else long since she should have been swal­lowed up; may we not still say with astonishment, O what hath God wrought, in her behalf!

SECOND promise, which I shall here instance, that God had made to his Church in the Word, Of her Increase and Enlargement: that the Earth should be covered with the knowledge of God, as the sea of water; and her seed be as the stars of Heaven; that her bounds should be from the sea to the utmost ri­vers; which was promised to Christ in the behalf of his Church, and that she should possess the gates of her enemies.—Psal. 89. 25. Psal. 2. 8. Isa. 42. 4. Isa. 54. 3.

[Page 125] As this promise is express in the Scripture, we must say it is no less clear and evident in its accom­plishment; that surely the Lord hath kept his Word, whereto the event doth most exactly answer; and though yet it be not to the full made out, I am sure there is so much at this day manifest, considering the former condition of the Church, as undeniably proveth the fulfilling of the forementioned promise, which even to the conviction of greatest Atheists may be demonstrated from these grounds.

1. That vast extent which the Kingdom of Christ hath had in the World. For this cannot be denied, that the greatest Empire or Monarchy could never so far extend their conquest, as the Church hath done, since the wall of partition was taken down; short are the limits of the Grecian, and Roman Empire; con­sidered with this, whose bounds have been the ends and uttermost parts of the Earth, where neither Greece or Rome did ever set up their Trophees. Hath not the Gospel, as the sun made its circuit from the East to the West? yea, crossed the seas, to the dark northern nations, thus fulfilling its course, in order to its turn again, to the place of its first rising; that it may, as we are sure it shall once, visit the Jews again, and the eastern places of the World, that now are buried in a night of darkness: which, I think, will be as sure a presage of the break of day, and se­cond coming of the Lord, as the morning-Star is to the World of the Sun's accomplishing its course, and that it is returning again to the East where it should rise. Hath not the Gospel now been through Asia, where it did not tarry for a night; for many flourish­ing Churches were there, and the going back of the tyde from thence was its flowing to another part of the World: which is indeed observable of the Church as it is of the sea, that what it hath lost in one part, it hath gained in another. Did the vast distance of Af­rica, [Page 126] its great barren deserts, or scorching heat, hin­der the Gospel's making a visit thither! No, it was once a fertil soyle, and brought forth many famous lights; yea, something yet doth both there and in the Ea [...] parts of the World remain, to shew the Gospel was truly in these places. And hath Europe, though last, been least on this account? Yea, what do mean the late discoveries of unknown parts of the Earth, but to make way for a more full performance of this promise, that the Gospel might stretch its con­quest over the line? which surely was the gold and treasure Christ design'd from thence, that even America might have her day also, and the voice of the turtle be heard in those lands.

2. Not only the large extent of the Church as to its bounds, doth witness this, but also the great and numerous off-spring of Sons and Daughters, which in those parts where the Gospel hath been, were brought forth to Christ. For we may say, what John saw in vision, hath been very manifest to after-ages, an innu­merable company, of all Tongues. Nations and Langua­ges, of whom it could be said, These are born in Zion! O how great a harvest of the Nations is even already gathered? What a fleece hath every particular Church cast? What a marvellous increase hath been in some places, after special tydes of the Gospel? May we not say, that truth is now beyond debate, that out of one, and him not only as good as dead, but truly dead, there hath come forth as the sand of the sea, and Stars of Heaven, in number! the Church hath inherited Joseph's blessing, of the womb, and the breasts, in a fruit [...] off-spring. The dew of Christ's youth hath been as the womb of the morning. O what a marvel­lous and goodly company will this once be, when ga­thered together! Then will the performance of these precious promises be fully manifested.

3. This truth may be demonstrated not only from [Page 127] the real conquest of the Gospel, and those excel­lent trophies of her victory over many noted enemies, who have after been vessels of honour, but also from the feigned subjection, that so many have been made to render. Is it not strange, what a multitude do in these times profess the truth, and yet hate it; and were never drawn with the cords of love? How very many have courted the name of a Christian, and wooed the shadow of religion, who never knew the truth thereof? which certainly is a convincing evi­dence of the Gospel's conquest, that so many knees should bow to the name of Jesus, whose hearts were never bowed, or really subdued to him.

4. It is an unanswerable proof of this truth, that we see, the Church's increase and enlargement hath come to pass most punctually after that manner, yea, with all the circumstances, as was foretold and promised: so that the event doth in every thing answer the word. For (First) it is there held out, that from a day of small things, which men would be ready to despise, it should grow up as a tender plant, and spread forth its bran­ches over the nations; that the children of the deso­late should be more than of the married Wife, and the glory of the second Temple, exceed that of the first: and O! hath it not accordingly come to pass.—(2.) This great increase and enlargement of the church was to fall out in the days of the new Testament; when Christ should be lifted up, that then he should draw all men after him. For those promises we have thereof in the old testament, do clearly point at the times of the Gospel: and doth not the event here accordingly answer?-(3.) The Scripture holdeth out that the fal­ling away of the Jews should be the riches of the Gentiles, and that their rejection should make way for the fulfilling of this promise, even the ingathering of of the nations: and do not men see the event, with this very circumstance?

[Page 128] 4. We find the Isles, and utmost parts of the earth, are given to Christ for his inheritance; and fore­told as a special part of the Church's increase. And do we not clearly see, there is no place of the world, where Christ's Kingdom is more visible, where more children have been begot to him by the gospel, we may say, than in these northern places, even in these isles of Britain, and Ireland, which are almost the uttermost parts of the earth; there being but little from that, and nearer the pole, which is inha­bited, yea we may judge hath been that Thule, where­of the Ancients did so much speak.—(5.) Was it not also foretold that the Church should possess the gates of her enemies, at whose great increase the world should wonder; the princes thereof see, and be troubled, while God is known in her palaces, for a re­fuge? And doth not the event witness this, [...] all the counsels and essays, which the world hath had, to hinder the church's growth, her rising hath always been upon the ruins of her greatest enemies; yea, those who have been a terror in the land of the living, did oft fall, & break themselves, in that attempt! Can men deny the marvellous progress of the Church, how from a small beginning she at last possessed the gates of both the east, & western Empire, her old ene­mies: & do we not this day see her conquest advancing on the ruins of Antichrist, her last, and greatest ad­versary!

5. As the fulfilling of this promise about the church's increase is undeniable, since men cannot contra­dict their sense therein, we must also say, this is a thing great and marvellous, which no less than some di­vine and extraordinary power could bring about; if we consider these things: (first) that quick dispatch, which the churches growth, under the days of the new Testament, hath made. O might not the pagan world wonder, how in the space of two or three hun­dred [Page 129] years it was almost become wholly Christian? O strange! a Dioclesian and Maximus, so grievously persecuting, and trampling on the very name of Chri­stianity, and yet near that same age, this great Roman Empire and Emperour submitting to the Gospel, which was fulfilled in the days of Constantine!—(2.) How astonishing was it, for the Church's rise and increase to be brought about upon the ruin and downfall of the idols of the nations who had their temples, and were worshipped as God; that the world should be made to renounce its Bible, and that religion which for so many ages was deeply rooted by tradition from their fathers; those altars, which were had in such reverence, demolished, and their temples made a ruinous heap; yea, that very name of their God's should be thus obliterated, was not this in­deed very wonderful? But Dagon hath no strength to stand before the ark of the God of Israel. (3.) That it should be thus advanced by such means, as the preach­ing of the word, even of that which to the Jews was a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness! how this voice should put to perpetual silence those Oracles, that for so many ages had given a response to the world, might be indeed astonishing; yea, that the Churches increase should thus be brought about, at no less rate, than the overturning of greatest King­doms, the conversion of so many nations; should tame and civilize the most savage and barba­rous, cause the lion to lie down with the lamb, and even make so great and universal a change in the face of the universe.—(4.) Doth it not speak forth some di­vine power, the carrying on of the Church's growth and increase, not only over the violence of men, but over all those dreadful errors and inventions, those thick mists which both in former and later times, have ascended out of the pit, to choke her; that we may say, the Church hath not only been helped to tread up­on [Page 130] the lion, and dragon, but on the adder and cockatrice also; and doth carry the trophies of her conquest over all these at this day!—(5.) I would add, is it not mar­vellous, how the Church's increase hath been advanced in a way most contrary to all the rules of ordinary po­licy, by which States and Empires have risen; not by dissimulation, but greatest plainness and free deal­ing for Christ, and his Ministers did never flatter the world to embrace the truth; not by open violence, but a more excellent spirit and power, before which men could not stand? where foolishness was made to confound and outwit humane wisdom, and weak­ness to overcome strength: that we may say, O how little of man, and how much of God was to be seen therein!

THIRD Promise, which the Lord hath given to his Church in the word, is the giving of the Spirit and pouring out of the same; which is there expresly held forth, and promised, Zach. 12. 10. Joh. 14. 17. Is [...]. 59. 21. And doth concern all times of the Church, though in a more full measure, to be let out in the days of the Gospel.

It is true, the Christians inward experience can best witness this; for these have an argument from with­in; they know, and are sure they have received the Spirit by the word, whereby they understand those things which are spiritually discerned. But that which here is intended, it is to shew, that the Spi­rit is truly given forth to the Church according to the promise. That it doth accompany the truth and doctrine of Christ, and purity of the ordinances, is a thing, which from clear undeniable evidences may be demonstrated, to the conviction of the greatest A­theist. For I must think, even by-standers, such who never knew any saving work of the Spirit, but live in these parts where the ordinances are dispensed with [Page 131] purity and power, if they shut not their eyes, may oft clearly see something going forth with the word, that is beyond words, a divine Spirit and power, which sendeth forth its favour in the daily admini­stration of the Gospel; yea, by its effects, and some convincing discovery thereof, doth force this truth in upon men's consciences, who are otherways stran­gers thereto.

Now to hold forth the accomplishment of so great a promise, that God is faithful and true therein, I would give in these clear and convincing witnesses to the same.

1. Those excellent gifts and endowments given to the Church, are they not a visible proof of this truth? For it is undeniable, where once the Gospel cometh, that instruments are raised with another spirit; rea­pers sent forth, while there is a harvest to be gathe­red, and shaped for their work; yea, those who were of mean and ordinary parts, when called forth to the service of the Church, will have another lustre; that it may be oft seen with astonishment, how far not only they exceed themselves, but those who were of more eminent natural endowments. I would but seri­ously ask men who never laid this truth to heart, Whence is that variety of Gifts, so sutably dispensed to the various employments, and different pieces of service, the Church doth call for? How are they thus suted to the several times; yea, to the very ge­nius and temper of such a time? Whence is it, that every gift and qualification is so fitted and disposed for its proper use; some most peculiarly shaped out to awake and threaten (those Boanerges) while others are set forth with a spirit eminently fitted to comfort; some mighty in perswasion, yet not so fit to expound; others most dexterous to instruct, yet not so pow­erful to apply; some having the gifts of tongues, and others the tongue of the learned to speak a word in sea­son [Page 132] to the weary; to some the face of a lion is given, when a heroick spirit of courage and resolution is called for, and to others the face of a calf, for patient en­during in suffering time! Surely it were a choice me­ditation, to think how with as great wonder we may say of this excellent body of the Church, as of the natural body of man, how curiously, yea, marvel­lously is it framed; where every part doth answer an­other, and to the use of the whole, each hath its pe­culiar excellency, and something proper to every one's gift may be then seen, as well as in the face of man, by which in some things they differ from all o­ther.

2. These more eminent extraordinary out pourings of the Spirit do also witness this truth; which at some special times, when the Churches necessity requireth it, have been most discernable. When the Lord sendeth forth his servants about a more then ordinary piece of work, either to do, or suffer; when he is to plant the Church in some place, where the Gospel will meet with much opposition; is it not then ma­nifest, how some more than ordinary power and irre­sistible efficacy doth accompany the truth, before which there is no standing? The disputer is then, in his reasoning, confounded by something above reason; the untoward and rude are forced to stoop before the word, and to confess they have to do, with po­wer, and not with words; yea, those whom the Lord maketh use of, who were feeble and weak as others, in that day are made as a brazen wall, and a fenced city.

3. Is it not also undenyable, that now under the New Testament there are Ministers of the Spirit, and not of a dead letter, and empty [...]ound? That with the word there goes along a ministration of power and life; whence a Majesty and authority attend­ing the public ordinances is oft so discernable, that [Page 133] even those who know not what the Spirit is, are made to see something therein which doth dazle them with astonishment. Whence is it that at some times such a beauty and power shine forth with ordinances, like a glance of the glory of God, even going before men's eyes, which for the present hath made a won­derful change upon some very gross men, and put them in an other temper, yea, forced them with fear to acknowledge, that surely God it near in the as­semblies of his people? And I would ask, whence is it the word giveth law to men's consciences? that it should speak with such an authority, as maketh them all to shiver, that even the worst of men are some times made to stand before the ministry of the word, like men standing at the barr, upon life and death, before a judge whose authority they durst not decline!

4. It is very discernable, what a great difference and another appearance, there is both on Ministers, and Christians at one time, from what they are at ano­ther, in the discharge of duty, as if these were not the same persons; which appeareth not only in the enlargement, and straitning of their gift, but also in power and life. Is it not seen, with what li­berty these do some times pray, and are as a Ship with a full gale before the wind? That it is then easy to preach; when at other times there is like a shut door, that even hearers may perceive a sensible languishing, and them hampered in their very expressions, yea, as men rowing against a contrary wind; the word wanting that favour and rellish it hath had at other times; and this not through a natural indisposition, or want of preparation, but that which all who ever served God in the spirit must confess, hath most sensibly attended them when they have thought themselves at the greatest advantage, for going about duty: O who can deny this evidence of the spirit, a thing in [Page 134] all ages so sensibly felt, yea, even obvious to the worst of men!

5. It is also clear, that where ever the Lord hath had a Church, at some special turns of her condition there have usually been some more solemn times of the spirit, and high spring-tides of the gospel. There was indeed a marvellous flowing forth of the spirit of God after Christ's ascension, which like a mighty current did carry all before it; at which time more success did follow one sermon, than hath been by the mi­nistry of many others in an age; this made the world wonder, as if some universal enchantment had fallen on men; what that could be, which the more they sought to bear down, the more it increased, that made the rich choose poverty, and those who dwelt in palaces betake themselves with chearfulness to the dens and caves of the earth. But besides this, it is very manifest, that in a large measure the Spirit hath been let forth to the Church in after-ages; yea, there is no particular Church where the light hath shined, but hath had it's special times, some solemn day of the pouring out of the spirit, before the sun went down: which may be observed either at the first breaking out of the Gospel, or at some other remarkable time and change of her condition; whence a great Flight of souls to Christ hath followed; besides the reaching of the conscience and stirring the affection of many o­thers under a common work of the spirit, which usually goeth along with solemn times.

6. The going back of the tide, and visible with­drawing of the Spirit from particular churches, where it hath sometimes in a large measure been let forth, is a very convincing witness to the truth of this pro­mise. For it is clearly seen, at what a stand the Gospel is in those places were it most eminently shined; that the land which blossomed, and was like a wat [...]ed gar­den, [Page 135] hath been made as the heath in the wilderne [...]s; and then that the ministers of Christ, whose lot hath fallen in such a time, are put to very sore work, to work (as it were) with oars for want of wind, to cast out the net all night, and catch nothing; a shut door is upon them in the exercise of their Ministry; duty is made burdensome, because the Lord is against them, there is an evident restraint upon the word, and its intercourse is more with the ear, than with the consciences of men: yea, any liberty they find is to execute a commission of Judgment, and to denounce the wo of the Gospel. O, doth not so manifest with­drawing of the Spirit witness the out-pouring thereof, and that it is a certain and real thing.

7. Do not the stirrings and strong convictions, which even the worst of men have sometimes under the word, witness a divine Spirit and power going along therewith; that which forceth an assent from their conscience to the truth, which otherways they hate; yea, maketh them for the time wonder they should not have been more serious in the ways of God! Yea, it doth often put a thorn in the bed of their security! for indeed the word and the light thereof doth torment those who dwell in the earth. And truly this is a marvellous thing, which get­teth in upon men's secret designs and counsels, doth reveal to them the most close thoughts of their heart, which they are sure men's eye could not reach, tak­eth them down through themselves; and yet, that the world knoweth not whence it is! Yea, are they not forced to confess, what a great difference they find betwixt the word from the mouth of some who are holy and serious, though held out in greatest simplicity, than from others even of great­er gifts, and accompanied with more shew of elo­quence, that surely the one hath another sound and relish, speaketh more feelingly home to their [Page 136] heart, than the most polished discourse of greatest orators!

8. One witness more I shall here give to the truth of this promise, even those eminent examples of the great grace of God, which in every age have shined in the firmament of the Church; some in love, and zeal, some in patience, and humility, some in the strong acts of faith, and self-denial; which do certainly demonstrate a more excellent spirit, than that which is in the world; whence they appear with another lustre in their walk and carriage, and have a sweet and fragrant favour of the Spirit, to the very discerning of by-standers; which truly sheweth that his wind doth blow on his garden, when the spices send forth so plea­sant a Scent.

FOURTH. We find an express Promise in the word of Deliverance to the Church in a low and oppressed condition; that surely the Lord will plead her cause, will deliver his People when he [...]eeth their strength is gone, and save them from the hands of their enemies. Ps. 18. 47, 48, 50. Ps. 22. 4, 5. Is. 54. 17. Is. 51. 23.

It is true, this promise hath its bounds, limits, and proviso's, which should be taken along in the ap­plication thereof. We know, the Covenant of God with particular Churches is conditional only; he promiseth, that he will be with them, while they are with him: yea, it is oft seen (and there is no jarr here with this promise) that a People professing the Gospel, confederate with God following duty, have even turned their back before the enemy, and in the holy providence of God have for a time been given up to their fierce rage and violence. But it is also sure, that this promise hath an accomplishment, and in the day of the Church's strait the Lord hath oft appeared, by a strong outstretched hand [Page 137] for her help; his own arm brought salvation to his People, when they sought to him: for God is known in her palaces for a refuge; yea, surely the Church might oft sing that song on such clear grounds, as though with Israel she had been standing at the red sea, Thy right hand, O Lord, is full of power, thy right hand hath dashed in pieces thy enemies. For what nation, or People is like this, to whom he hath shewed such marvellous things?

Now to shew forth the faithfulness of God in this promise, I would offer some few things that are a most clear and undeniable witness thereto.

1. There are few ages, but we have some re­cord of the church's condition, which hold forth such signal convincing providences of God, in behalf of his oppressed church and people, as may be a mani­fest seal to this truth. It is true, some times have been more remarkable for suffering, times of Judgment and of a growing trial, wherein this truth hath not so clearly shined forth; yea, that long night which the church had under Antichrist, might seem to call it in question: but nevertheless, if men take a serious View of the Lord's way, and the series of providence in ages past, comparing one time with another, what the straits and most extream case of the church hath at last resolved in, they will find cause to cry with asto­nishment, Great deliverances giveth he to his people, yea, the Lord hath done great things for them! I am sure, were there a full record, with that true account which might be given, of those more remarkable deliveran­ces, that particular churches have met with, since the first planting of the Gospel among them, wherein God's very immediate hand for their help hath been discernable, it would nonplus the World, and greatest Atheists, about the real fulfilling of this promise.

2. The confessions even of the Church's enemies hath oft witnessed this truth, that in pursuing their [Page 138] malice, to trouble and undo her, they have but un­done themselves; how tormenting disappointments have caused their very flesh to pine away, and the close and issue of their rage forced this conviction from them at last, that the Church is a burdensome stone, to be lifted up; a party, with whom it is full of hazard to meddle. Have not such been made to discern something of a divine hand, so clearly against them, blasting their counsels and most promising at­tempts, as if their eyes with Balaam hath been open­ed to see the Angel in their way! Yea, in all ages it is known, how the conscience even of the worst hath oft bewrayed something of a presaging fear, they have had, of those whom they pursued with greatest malice, and a dreadful impression they had of a praying people, and their prayers.

3. This truth hath had the clearest witness in times of the Church's greatest strait and extremity; when difficulties have appeared insuperable, and relief in an ordinary way of providence most hopeless; when visible means have been withdrawn, all refuge fail­ed, and none to help; that in such a day the Lord hath been seen upon the mount, and unexpectedly by very strange means brought deliverance to a broken, and almost ruined Church, even as it were betwixt the bridge and the water: so that who would have a clear view of the accomplishment of this promise, may but turn back on these more remarkable ex­tream exigences of the Church's condition, and there have it; how oft a sweet sunshine that followed the most dark and cloudy times, a raging storm hath resolved into a refreshing calm; yea, that with a fur­ther growth of the Church's trial, and doubling of her burden, her enlargement and deliverance hath bro­ken out with those great & obvious remarks therein, that it was a convincing return of prayer and wrest­ling, with a further addition of some new and singu­lar [Page 139] mercy there with, yea, some eminent act of judg­ment upon her adversaries.

4. The greatest advantages and victories, which men have got over the Churches and people of God, can also bear witness to this, that when the wicked have sprung up like the grass, and the workers of iniquity seemed to flourish, this very way hath the Lord taken to bring about a more full deliverance: Yea, on the other hand, hath it not been very ob­vious how the Church's gain hath been brought forth out of greatest loss; that those wounds which seemed most deadly, by the infinitely wise providence of God, have turned to her most effectual and thorough cure; and men's unreasonable violence and rage against the Church hath oft had an evident tendency to bring about even that whereto it seemed most directly con­trary, some further mercy, and deliverance, than could have been expected; as the Amorites refu­sing Israel but passage through their land, did prove the very mean to give them more than they sought, the possession of that land for an inheritance.

5. This witness the observation of the Church in all ages can bear to this promise, that deliverance hath oft sprung up, and been brought to her hand, from a quarter, and by such means, as none would have expected; by such, as none but God could do; a sudden report and rumour (1 Sam. 23. 27.) Means that have been not only small and improbable, but that looked directly contrary, as in bringing the Church out of Egypt; yea, sometime by the wicked's being ensnared in the work of their own hands. Is it not obvious, how the Lord hath employ'd men's private interests, to put them on for befriending his Church? and hath caused the earth to help the woman, and rai­sed up one oppressor to punish another; yea, often hath prepared carpenters, whence it was least thought, to cut the horns of those who had scattered his people!

[Page 140] 6. There is this convincing witness to the truth of such a promise, that sudden remarkable change, which may be oft discerned both on men's inward frame, and the outward face of the Church, when a time of mercy and enlargement is come; instru­ments raised of the Lord, with a discernable elevation of their spirits to act, and do exploits; the feeble then made strong; and those who sometime would have fainted at an ordinary piece of service, dare with such a gale of divine assistance run (as it were) through a troop, and overleap a wall. For indeed this may in all ages be obvious, how easy it is to move, in the day when the Lord moveth for his people, and strengthneth the girdle of their loins; that it was not their bow, or sword, which got them the victory, but the very finger of God, something above the counsels of men, or ordinary means; which hath sometimes been made clear as the noon-day, so that even, at some distance, those who are wise to discern the times, did see when there was a breaking out of a day of a Church's hope; how there was a previous motion and stir amongst the dry bones; the Lord, as in the top of the mulberry trees, hath been then discer­nable, & some promising appearance from the present disposition & temper of the Godly in that time (tho' we must grant, mercy and sovereign grace hath oft met the Church, when little of this hath appeared) which, like the breaking out of that cloud in the top of mount Carmel, to the Prophet, though at first but as an handbreadth, hath shewed that deliverance to the Church was not far off.

7. I would add this witness also; those convinc­ing providences, which in all ages have been shewed against the enemies of the Church, such as men could not pass without some remark: what an issue those have had, who have sometimes been a sore rod on the People of God, yea, a terror in the land of the [Page 141] living! How they have become a most abject and contemptible party, like bees who have lost their sting; their countenance hath been changed, and they ceased to be any more a fear, when once their work was done, and the date of their commission for the humbling and trying of the Church expired; yea a judicial Stroke from the Lord hath been often seen upon their very judgment, and resolutions, which could not then serve them to trouble and afflict the Church; the day being turned, and the time of her deliverance come.

FIFTH. There is this Promise also which concern­eth the Church in general, as well as Christians in their personal case, That all things work together for the good of those who love God, Rom. 8. 28. the ac­complishment whereof, as it is written out in providence to the observation of men, I would here touch.

This is indeed a great and comprehensive promise, which in the constant course and tenor of provi­dence about the Church, we may see, it doth take place; how those turnings and changes of the World, the most strange emergents of the time, the various mo­tions and interests of men, do co-operate together, and have an undoubted tendency to bring forth the Church's good, as though they did intentionally act for the same. There will indeed, one day, be a more clear and marvellous discovery of this, when the Lord hath perfected his work, and the mystery of God it finished, the Church brought safe to the harbour: then shall it be fully manifest, to what end all those storms and cross winds in the counsels and designs of men were; those things, which in the time could not be understood, but seemed perplexed and strange, did really work for the Church's good. For then men will see with their eyes a full performance of the word: yet we must say, even here, in every [Page 142] age, amidst the various changes of the Church's case, this hath so clear a Fulfilment, that there is no serious observer of providence, but may bear wit­ness to it.

1. That not only the Church's good, but even her greatest good, hath most clearly had its rise, and been brought forth, out of the greatest mischiefs and hurts intended against her. If we search the Scripture, and will turn over those after-records of the Church's condition, we shall there find, that the most remarkable attempts and plots, such as Pharaoh's last essay to de­stroy the Israelites, Haman's great design to root out the seed of the Jews, that great Master-plot Satan once had on foot, to crush the Gospel and the Chris­tian Church by crucifying her head, yea, in these last times Antichrist's killing the witnesses, have all, as if really intended by the instruments as well as the first mover, brought forth the Church's greatest good; so as the after-mercy and relief hath carried some visible proportion to her trial, and to the greatness of her adversaries design.

2. It may be also clear, if we but trace back those memorable changes, which have been up and down the earth, how direct a tendency they have had to this end, Did not the bringing down that great image of the [...] witness this? We find Nebu­chadnezar raised up as a rod to the Church, and Cy­rus for a deliverer; we may see the Persian and Gre­cian Monarchies brought down, to make way for the setting up of the Messias his Kingdom. Anti­ochus must stand up a little for a sharp trial, and his downfal give the Church a new breathing, and hold forth to after-ages a remarkable monument of the judgement of God against his enemies. Peaceable Augustus must fall in with his time in whose days shall be abundance of peace. We find a Titus set up to execute the judgement of God on the Jews, to [Page 143] make way for a further enlagement to the gentile Church; a Nero and Domitian to help forward the Churches suffering, and a Constantine to give her some rest, after so long and sore an assault; and at last, the Roman empire mouldred down, for Anti­christ's up setting, to accomplish what did remain of the sufferings of Christ, in his Church, by that ad­versary.

3. We may oft see a very strange concurrence of things! how instruments act to bring about the Lord's end, and advance his Church's interest, even while each one doth most vigorously drive their own proper end and design; which sheweth, there is surely a living spirit in the wheels, that ordereth these motions, a supream and first mover that can thus determine them, whether they will, or not, to serve his end, and to promote the Church's good, when they most directly intend the contrary.

4. We have seen how in men's plotting the ruin of the Church, there is oft an unseen hand determining their judgment and inclination, to fall upon that very way, than which we would think nothing could have been more direct for her good and their own ruin; how an Hushai hath been sent in, or some have been stirred up amongst themselves (upon their own inte­rest) to break the pernicious counsels and designs of others.

5. We have also seen the personal quarrels of the Church's enemies among themselves brought to such an height, and to fall out so seasonably, that ob­servers might clearly perceive that it hath been from the Lord; a judgement for their rage and violence against his poor oppressed People.

6. We have seen the Church's enemies raised to a strange height, all advantages favouring them, until their mine hath been ripe for springing; and lo, at that very juncture, something unexpected hath fallen [Page 144] out, which did turn their former success to their further ruin, yea, disappoint all. This, the World is ready to call some fatal and malevolent conjun­ction, which cannot be resisted: and what is this, in effect, but the witness of men's conscience to a divine hand▪

7. Have we not seen some sore dash and over­throw of the Church bring forth her good, and a more full victory? how visible help and means have been taken out of the way, that something above means might be seen in her condition, even in that day, when all hath been given for lost; yea, truth's los­ing the day upon the field, bring forth her triumph on the scaffold and at the stake.

8. We have seen most despicable and ordinary things made subservient for some great piece of the Lord's work; a very small thing made the first rise of strange revolutions; that remarkable changes have been oft lying in the bosom of a common provi­dence: yea, truly we find both Scripture, and the observation of after-ages, Witness, that the Church's deliverance and relief did almost never come that way, by such a method and means, as she had most expected the same; and that God's time of working may be oft very contrary to our time of expecting.

I shall only add; Is it not oft seen (which, I am sure, all ages can witness) how men's endeavours to darken the truth by errour, have been the effectual means for its further clearing? That the growing of a trial, a violent and sore exacting upon the Church, hath kindly wrought towards her relief and enlarge­ment; her meat hath been oft brought even out of the eater, by means most destructive thereto; and a sword must pierce the Church's heart, that the tho'ts of many may be discovered; a time of persecution must help to cure the divisions amongst the godly, [Page 145] and bring them together in the furnace, which pro­sperity could not do: yea, it is oft seen, which former ages can also witness, that the very undoing of the Church hath been God's blest way, to keep her from being undone.

THE SECOND BRANCH

DOth concern those Scripture-threatnings, which are held forth in the word, with a respect to the visible Church, and against a people professing the Gospel; that no priviledges they have above others, shall ex­empt them from judgment, yea & from very sad strokes; he hath known them above the rest of the World, he therefore will contend with them most severely, because of sin, and such particular evils as we find the Word threatneth.

I touched a little some Scripture-threatnings, in the preceeding argument, as concerned Christians in their private experience: what I here intend, is to point at this truth, as it is written in the providences and judgments of every time, to men's observation; how judgments from the Lord, which point, as with the finger, at the abounding sins of that time, do reach a land, and particular Churches, according to the threatnings of the word. This is indeed manifest, that the greatest promises made to a people, we find backed with sadest threatnings: and accordingly we find, the greatest monuments of wrath have usually been set up, where sometimes the largest offers of the Gospel were; yea, that the anger of the Lord may draw so deep, against a people professing his name as to make their land desolate, and the high ways thereof mourn; for in this precinct of the Church doth both judgment and mercy most eminently shine forth, and the Lord's way there doth differ from that he hath with any other people.

[Page 146] Now to clear this grave truth a little, how those threatnings of the word, against a nation and people, because of sin, are also verified in their judgments, I shall touch a few instances, that are most known and obvious, where we may lay the word and ob­servation of the Church together, and see how they answer one the other.

First, We find the Threatnings of the word do point at the time of a people's judgment. 1 Thes. 2. 16. Rev. 14. 15, 18. That when they fill up the measure of their sin, and their cup is full, the Lord will not then defer the execution; until the cup of the Amorites was full, he did let them alone: and we find answer deferred, to the cry of the souls under the altar, for avenging their blood on Antichrist, because that ac­cursed party hath yet more to do against the Church, and the Saints more to suffer under their hand.

Now to witness the accomplishment of this; let us but consider what in all times may be observed. First, that there is an ordinary growth and height of sin, which a land cometh to, before destruction; some national and universal spreading thereof, prodi­gious outbreakings, the utter rejecting of reproof, which shew that a people's case must then be on some turn; yea, that strange and unusual sinning useth to go before some strange stroke.—2. Before judgment come, is it not seen, how the sin of a people hath become so daring, that it hath had a loud cry? yea, their case hath been such as did justify the Lord's procedure against them, even in the conscience of all Observers, that he did it not without much cause.—3. Is it not easy, for such as are wise to know the times, to see night coming on a land, when sin is at some dreadful height, by considering the word and the Lord's usual way with a people in such a case? Yea, have there not then been some special forewarnings, a [Page 147] more then ordinary impression of judgment upon the spirits of the godly, and the hiding of many of them in the grave; which, as threatning presages, have shewed the near approach of a stroke.—4. There doth not usually want even some Noah, or Jonas, the Ministers of God sent forth to threaten, who as watchmen upon the wall are discerning hazard at a distance; yea, with an observable pressure then upon their spirit, and a more than ordinary agreement amongst themselves, to cry out, and give the people warning, when the time of judgment hath been drawing near.

2. It is clear, there are some special evils and sins of a time, which we find the word most dreadfully doth threaten: yea, in a peculiar way it doth put a mark upon them, that though the Lord should pass by many infirmities in a Church and people professing his name; yet, for such and such sins (as we find in Amos 1. 3.) he will not turn away the punishment thereof; but hath solemnly declared, by his truth and faithfulness, that these shall not pass without some visible mark, even before the world, of his anger. Now in this the Scripture is clear, and lets us see, there are some sins more particularly threatned, some land-destroying sins, that have as it were the mark set on [...] which do especially provoke the holy indignation and jealousie of God; such as ido­latry, corrupting the Worship of God; Perjury, and Covenant-breaking,—Shall they break my Covenant, and escape? saith the Lord, Ezek. 17. 15. Also de­parting from God, and his way; For this the land shall be desolate, as in Jerem. 9. 12, 13. Yea, blood guil­tiness, which the earth shall not cover, and for which the sword shall not depart, even from the house and family of David. 2 Sam. 12. 10.

Now to evidence the accomplishment hereof, I shall point at some things most obvious to the obser­vation [Page 148] of every time, how terribly the Lord useth to plead, for such things, and by some exemplary stroke and judgment point them out, as we find them par­ticularly set by themselves in the word, and threat­nings thereof.

First, that in these sins, thus marked, men may see how their judgments use not wholly to be deferred to another world, but though much is oft passed here, and laid over to that last and great judgment, yet, upon such sins the Lord hath put some mark of his displeasure, even in this life.—2. That for these he useth to contend before the sun, and in the view of men: his judgments are indeed oft secret, and do consume as a moth; but upon such sins, we may fre­quently see, some publick and visible stroke is made to follow, that the world cannot pass without a re­mark.—3. That the Lord also useth to be a very swift witness against such evils. For, as we find, the oppres­sion of the Church hath a loud cry, and the blood of the saints a how long? it is also seen those foremen­tioned sins do much hasten judgment, so as sel­dom that generation passeth away without some wit­ness thereto. It is rarely found, that some great revolt of a people from God, and breaking Covenant with him, doth lie long unpunished, nor doth the hoary head of the violent and bloody man go oft to the grave in peace.—4. That these sins use to be fol­lowed with some very dreadful and eminent stroke, which hath made the land desolate, their cities some­time wast, and a ruinous heap; yea, houses great and fair, to be without inhabitants; so as men have with astonishment enquired, Why is all this come to pass! and it was easy to answer, even for such and such evils hath the Lord done this, according to his word.—5. That a divine hand useth to be most discernable in the punishment of such sins, because of a very clear resemblance betwixt them, and the stroke; [Page 149] which hath forced their own conscience, as well as Beholders to confess the Righteousness of God therein.—6. That the Lord will put some mark of his anger on the choicest of his servants for any acces­sion to such sins; these to whom he hath given their soul for a prey, have yet got a sore outward stroke, upon such an account, which hath followed them to the grave; For this the sword shall not depart from David's house. Idolatry rent the Kingdom from the posterity of Solomon. Jonas shall not escape for his rebellion. Yea, God was wroth with Moses, and no intreaty shall hinder his dying in the wilderness. I may add, hath not the Lord's controversy on this ground even reached their posterity! Which may shew that these threatnings are sad earnest; and such sins are not more particularly pointed at in the word, than they have been in after-ages made exemplary in judgment.

3. A people's lukewarmness, their slighting of the Gos­pel and not receiving the love of the truth, we find sadly threatned in the word, Rev. 3. 15. 16. 2 Thess. 2. 10, 11. And truly we must say, they have not fal­len to the ground in any age, without an accomplish­ment, as frequent observation can witness. First, how a people's entring upon a Religious way, their pur­suing a form of reformation, and not thorough for God therein, but on carnal grounds, hath thus put them in a worse condition than before. For truly men's hypocrisy in going about a good work, doth threaten more, than the performance thereof doth pro­mise. Jehu got a temporal reward, but his posterity must at length reckon for all the blood of Jezreel.—2. That no people use to be further from getting good of the gospel, than such who have been under most clear and greatest convictions; so as it is found, there is oft more access to gain amongst the savages, than those who have sit their day while the tide did flow; [Page 150] yea, ministers have found most discouragement, to labour in those parts where the word hath been long preached with power.—3. It is seen, how light not improved will turn a People more gross, and is usu­ally followed with some remarkable growth in sin; that the more the word doth put a restraint on men's cor­ruption, the more it rageth; so as it may be observed what a very black die, the powerful preaching of the Gospel hath put upon a People, as a visible mark of Judgment on such who profit not thereby.—4. Is it not seen how men's formality in the matters of God hath been oft punished even with the taking away of the form? Yea, that seldom error and delusion doth want a harvest amongst a People who receive not the truth in love.—5. Hath not slighting of the Gospel been at last followed with some visible restraint and inhibition both upon the ordinances and dispen­sers thereof, a judicial withdrawing of the Spirit, as to the work of conversion and conviction; whereby the Lord doth plainly cease to be a reprover to such; yea, even saith, Bind up the Law, and seal the Testimony.

The word doth also threaten carnal Security (a dis­ease whereof the Church is oft in great hazard) yea, we find it holds forth a certain connexion betwixt spiritual judgments upon a People, and some outward strokes to follow thereon; that those who are under that first wo and plague upon their spirits, are then near to some judgment upon their persons, and may expect a sharp wakening; in hearing they shall not understand, &c. but the close is, until their cities be consumed without inhabitants, and there be an utter desolation: yea, we find, judgment doth begin as a moth, in that 5th of Hos. but in the 14th ver. it doth turn at last to be a lion. We may truly say, the fulfill­ing of this hath in all ages of the Church been obvious. 1. That as the first part of the Church's deliverance is usually spiritual, so it is found the first step of judg­ment, [Page 151] and the execution thereof against a People, hath been upon their spirits; that serious discerners of the time might know, the night was fast coming on, and some sad outward stroke on a land, by the abounding of spiritual judgments.—2. It is clear the most dreadful strokes that ever come on a parti­cular Church, do usually find it in such a case, judi­cially hardned, and under many warnings plagued with security. Thus did the flood find the old World, and before that desolating stroke on Jerusalem by the Romans, were not the Jews in such a case? Salvian can tell how it was with the African Churches, be­fore that dreadful inundation of the Goths and Van­dals; yea, the Church's records in all ages do wit­ness, that before any sad stroke or persecution came upon a People, a deep sleep and lethargy hath been previous thereto; gray hairs might have been seen upon them: and the Word doth even shew, that this will be the last disease, whereof the Church shall be sick before the great day of the Lord.—3. It is also seen how spiritual judgments, when they grow upon a people, make great dispatch, and do quickly ripen for some further stroke; that when men have run down their conscience, and are past reproof of the word, going on from evil to worse, the case cometh then to be clear, and ready for the final discussion of the process.

5. The word doth denounce wo against the trou­blers of the Church, and those who are her persecutors; that the Lord shall recompence tribulation to such, and plead with her oppressors: the accomplishment whereof hath been truly manifest, yea to the ob­servation even of the world. Isa. 10. 5. 2 Thes. 1. 6.—First, That eminent oppressors of the Church have seldom gone out of the world, without some mark of divine anger upon them. Surely if there were a re­cord of such instances, that in every age have been con­spicuous, [Page 152] men would be forced to see, and say, that the most noted enemies and persecutors of the saints have been also the most convincing and noted examples of judgment in the ti [...]e.—2. That the Church's suffe­ring useth to go before a day of vengeance on the instru­ments thereof. We find, Jehu got an outward reward for executing the judgment of God on his enemies: but as for those men who have been the rod of the Church, it hath been seen, that they have not long wan­ted some scourge as sore upon themselves, as they have been to his People, and that at last these have paid dear for their service.—3. We may see how this also doth help to finish the controversy of God, with men and their houses; that for this he hath taken many away in the midst of their days, and made them cease to be, who would not cease to trouble the Church, while they had a being; yea that he had taken them in his own hand, whom men could not reach, and made their down-casting in the midst of themselves.

6. Doth not the Scripture threaten carnal confidence, in a People; the putting of their trust in man, or in any outward instruments? Jer. 17. 5, 6, 17. To clear the accomplishment whereof, let us but compare the word, and the Church's observation together; and we shall find,—1. That outward means have never more miscarried, than when most pro­mising, and when there was greatest expectation from the same; yea, that very eminent instruments when much leaned to, have been observably blasted, and made to shrink under such a burden.—2. That those whom the Lord had made much use of, yea, honoured to be great instruments in the ser­vice of the Church, have oft had some discernable blot, to reprove men's overlading of instruments with their esteem; a Tertullian, an Origen in an­cient times, yea, even a Luther, in these latter ages must go with some halt to the grave.—3. That [Page 153] many who have been useful in the Church for a time, the Lord doth oft lay by; yea, maketh not use of them to the end; but, the last may be made first. And tru­ly that excess in men's esteem, putting a further weight on some means, than they could bear, hath oft helped to render many useless.—4. Is it not also seen, how one extremity is thus plagued with a­nother? None more ready to shrink in a day of trou­ble, than such who at a distance seemed most da­ring; yea, none more ready to fall in to that excess of undervaluing instruments, than those who have most exceeded upon the other hand.

7. Do we not find the word threaten, and in a special way point at corrupt ministers, unfaithful watchmen, who give not warning to the Church; those shep­herds that feed themselves, but not the flock, the lea­ders of a people that cause them to err, and by their practice, to stumble at the law? Mal. 2. 3, 4.

The accomplishment whereof hath in all ages been very discernable. First, how such have u­sually been most noted as the greatest and most violent enemies, which the Church hath at any time had; yea, that no course hath been so evil and gross that hath wanted some of these to help it on, whose hatred and persecution of the God­ly hath been found to exceed the most openly pro­fane and profligate in that time.—2. That as they are particularly threatned above others in the word, so they get also some remarkable cast above others in their judgment, and having once lost their savour, become vile and loathsome, even to the worst of men; are contemptible in the eyes of such whom they seek in a sinful way to please; yea, have a worse favour, than the prophanest wretches; that being verified in them, Corruptio optimi, pessima.—3. That these do seldom make a good retreat from an evil way: so as it is an usual observation, it is rare for Church-men [Page 154] to repent, or a fallen star to shine again.—4. Are not such oft smitten even in their gifts; which we may see wither, and dry up upon them, while not faithfully improved; yea, to the very conviction of their hearers, to have lost that edge which once they had in their ministry?—5. I must add another remark (though I desire to deal with fear, and much tender­ness, in such an application of the judgment of God) how the Lord doth oft put some note of his wrath on the children and offspring of unfaithful Ministers; that it hath been seen, none more wretched and gross: whereto as their evil practice and example hath been a special help, so likewise are they thus punished of the Lord, who did not seek to beget Children to him, by the Word, but through their way did rather cause many to err and fall.

THE THIRD BRANCH.

HAving spoke something how the Scripture both as to the promises, and threatnings thereof, is evidently fulfilled in the Lord's ordinary way of pro­cedure with his Church, I would a little further follow this argument, How this also hath a manifold accomplish­ment, even in these most strange and dark passages of providence, whereat men are ready to stumble and chal­lenge the spotless righteousness of God, and his faithfulness therein; but if we lay them to that mea­sure, and line of the word which is stretched over the whole work of providence, we will see how well these do agree, and answer one to the other, yea, that all the paths wherein God walketh towards his Church, and people, are surely mercy, and truth.

To clear this I shall point at some footsteps of the providence of God in the world, and about the Church which would seem most dark, yea a contradiction to his word, and promise, but are plain and manifest, [Page 155] if weighed in the ballance of the sanctuary, where we may have a satisfying look, and resolution of these things which other ways would be too hard for us to understand, and may see, how straight these paths are which we thought crooked; yea, how easy and passable, the greatest deeps of providence would be, both as to God's way with his Church, and in our own particular case, when once they are set over against the word. I shall touch this a little in these fol­lowing instances.

1. It may seem strange how the Church's trouble and strait is oft seen to increase, with the first stirrings of her deliverance; yea, when some remarkable mercy, and outgate is in the bringing forth, the first step thereof would seem to put her further back, and in a worse condition than before. This is indeed a piece of the Lord's way with his Church which in many instances may be witnessed, but let us take the word along therewith, and we will find.—1. How the Church is oft at the brink of the grave even when her case is upon a turn, and how it is congruous to his way (whose paths are in the deep waters, who cloatheth himself with darkness, that men should not find any thing after him, or lay down absolute conclusions concerning his dealing) that the motions of provi­dence should be oft so perplexed, and various—2. Did not the case of the Church in Egypt seem much worse, their burdens doubled upon them, even when their deliverance was breaking up?—3. Joseph [...]o be sold as a slave, and in Egypt turned into a dun­geon would seem steps of providence, very unlike the thing which God was driving at thereby, and yet we see how kindly these did work towards the same.—4. The Church in Micah. 4: ver 10. When she was even at the door next to a deliverance, her trial was even at the greatest height, be in pain, and [Page 156] labour to bring forth, for ye shall go to Babylon and there be delivered: but sorest pangs in the birth do usually promise the best issue—5. It was the step of the pro­dence of God, which of all seemed most dreadful to the Church in Esther, the sealing of the decree, and sending it forth to root out the whole seed of the Jews, while Haman still flourished, but lo this was the very step that wrought most throughly for her de­liverance; and is not a wet mourning seed time a Scripture-presage of a good harvest.

2. The sore interruptions which a people's endeavors for Reformation, and to promote the Kingdom of Christ have met with, even when set about with a clear call, yea, solemn and serious engagements to God, would seem strange, and a shaking piece of providence: and truly this is oft seen, as an usual attendant on reformation, how unsuperable like difficulties, and unexpected lets do grow up in the way thereof: thus when Luther, and other instruments were raised up in Germany, to pursue the Church's Reformation, what cruel edicts were then set forth to give it a dash? division among themselves, the rising up of the Boors, and Anabaptists: what a pure, and thorough refor­mation was on foot under Edward the sixth in En­gland, and what a dreadful storm did quickly break it up, for that time? and I would add, what the present case of the Churches in Britain, and Ireland may at this day witness, where once the Lord so eminently appeared in a begun Reformation, which now is at so great a stand, but let us go in to the scrip­ture with this and we will find.—1. There is a vive portraicture of providence in the affairs of the Church held forth in that vision which Ezekiel had of the wheels at the river Chebar, whose mysterious mo­tions, and turnings so cross one to the other, with­out any discord therein, as to the end, to which they were directed, doth witness the rational, and wise [Page 157] conduct of providence: the Lord's work about his Church is a most shadowed and elaborate piece, which men cannot see, before their eye, as they see behind upon a review, while ordinary causes do oft vary in their operation, yea, go out of the common road, but scripture will make this very plain.—2. Was not Nehemiah, Ezra, and Zerobabel at their work, and duty, and had an express call for building of the temple, yet, how great, and frequent interrup­tions did they find, sometimes environed with diffi­culties, Zach. 4. 7. Who art thou great mountain before Zerobabel? Yea, they were put to hold the sword and build, to watch and work at once, because of their enemies.—3. What a very sore backset was the Church at, Hab. 3. Revive thy work, O Lord, in the midst of the years. This was both a great and long in­terruption, yea, do we not find her almost at a non­plus with a Query which no visible appearance could answer, by whom shall Jacob arise for he is small? 4. We find a special reformation set on foot by Hezekiah with a solemn Covenant, by the Princes, Priests, and body of the People, with a setting up of the pure Worship, and ordinances of God, but lo a sharp storm is soon after, by Sennacherib; yea Hezekiah scarcely is in his grave, when his Son doth bring in corruption, and persecution both at once; and when the christian Church in the times of the Apostles begun to flourish, success following the Gospel, did not a sad interruption, and scattering follow, Act. 8. 5. This is promised that Zion's walls shall even in troublesome times be built, and her being brought to a heap of rubbish was but making way for a further advance, that in the building of her again the Lord might appear in his glory; and is it not clear, that Christ coming in the Gospel, and power thereof to purge his Church, and carry on a reformation, Mal. 3. 4. proveth a searching and trying time which [Page 158] men cannot endure, for the power of the Word, and clear discovery of sin, and other shaking dispensati­ons which do usually attend such times and torment them who dwell on the earth, yea, and put the Devil, and corruption of men aloft, with all rage to oppose the same.

3. That a sad overclouding, and darkness should come on a land after most special manifestation of the power and glory of God therein, and that a time of the Gospel with much light should be so near a forerun­ner of wrath, and judgment, would seem a strange piece of providence, and cause a serious enquiry how such eminent appearances of God for a people, such great confirmations, observable success for a time, with many signal encouragements, should all seem to resolve in a desolating stroke, and ruin? This may be instanced in that Protestant war in France where instruments were remarkably raised, fitted of the Lord for the service of that time, had much of his presence, and countenance, yet to resolve thus in a bloody massacre; likewise these confederate German Princes, Saxony, and Landgrave of Hesse, Men eminent for piety, carried forth with much zeal for God, for defence of the truth, yea, in the be­ginning of that war having many promising encourag­ments, yet, remarkably deserted of the Lord with very sad like consequences following the same. Let us consider also the late Bohemian war, stated upon necessary defence of Religion and liberty, and at first attended with some smiling providences, should re­solve into so great a desolation, and ruin: yea, the Church of Ireland, O, what a dreadful massacre of the protestants there did quickly follow one of the most solemn times of the power of God and outpouring of the Spirit that we ever heard of since the days of the Apostles. I confess this may have a strange aspect, and is a part of the marvellous ways of the Lord, but [Page 159] when we take it in to the word, we will find there is no jar, or discord here, for, 1. It might seem as strange, and astonishing what Baruch got from the Lord in answer to his complaint, Jerem. 45. that he would pluck up what he had planted, and cast down that which he had built, for a work to be thus thrown down, where the Lord had once so eminently appeared and given his People many confirmations might then occasion great thoughts of heart, yet the unspotted righteousness of God, and his truth was apparent therein; yea, after that discourse, and all these large promises, which Christ gave his disciples in that sixteenth of John, we find all is shut up with that, the hour is coming, and now is that ye shall be scattered.—2. What strange providences did tryst the Church in the wilderness, sometime brought back to the red sea, tried with hunger, and naked­ness, consumed with various strokes, and many years wandering until most of that generation, who came out of Egypt filled their graves in the journey, and yet this was after most eminent confirmations, and as clear signs of God's presence as ever People had.—3. We find a publick reformation most zeal­ously prosecuted by Josias, which looked like the re­newed espousals of that land with God, by a solemn Covenant, yet, quickly after night came on that land with a long captivity, and Josias did fall by the sword.—4. Was there not a bright sun-blink, & flou­rishing plantation of the Gospel in Judea a little be­fore the desolation of that land by the Romans, yea, we will find it clear from the word that times of much light, and reformation do much sooner ripen for a stroke than any other times.—5. It is very manifest that particular Churches have their day where the Gospel hath its appointed work, and their stroke at last may reach the length of removing the candlestick. I truly think that sad instance of Bohe­mia's [Page 160] case may have this observable in it, that it had longer day, & enjoyment of the light even from the times of John Hus, and Jerom of Prague, which was near an 100 years before there was any day-break on other parts, so that we would consider if their night did come soon on, that their day was also much longer, yea, the stroke might tryst with the ebb of the tide, when their harvest was much gathered in, under so long a continuance of the Gospel, though I dare not think the Lord's work is utterly extinct there, but that Bohemia's dead and withered root hath life yet in it and shall once again bud forth.

4. Is it not usually seen when judgment cometh on a land, that the Godly get the first stroke? but let us also consider this in the word, where it is clear.—1. That judgment must begin at the house of God, and the green tree; and that the Churches trouble, and persecution is a forerunner of vengeance on her adversaries, do we not find, there is a cup of the judgment of God? And O the last is of a strong composition, for the wine is red and mixed, and the dreg very thick which is reserved for the troublers of the Church, and for such who are at case in a day of her grief, and truly they have the advan­tage that drink first, Blest are they whom thou chast­nest, &c. that they may rest in the day of their adversity until the pit be digged for the wicked, yea, Rev. 3. 10. we find keeping of the word of patience, which doth import suffering to the Church, goeth before some more universal stroke; and in that day proveth the safety, and protection of the People of God.—2. It is also clear that men may be raised up of the Lord, and followed with success, when he hath them for a rod to his church, but that at last [...] rod of my wrath will I cast in the fire, saith the Lord, it is truly an evidence of great wrath upon a party to be made the rod, and executioners of judgment upon the People of God, [Page 161] for they shall pay for it, by some sadder stroke then any trouble or suffering whereof they have been in­struments.

5. That prosperity, and success should follow some­times the worst of men in an evil course, and cause, such a concurrence, and series of providence, as seemeth to smile on them even to the bringing of their sinful devices to pass, while the People of God have been made to fall in a just quarrel before their ad­versary, would seem an astonishing providence, but let us lay it fore-against the Word, and there we will see.—1. That there is a prosperity which tendeth to destruction, Prov. 1. ver. 32. the ta­bernacles of the robbers prosper, Job. 12. ver. 6. and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hands he bringeth abundantly, but they do not see that wickedness is its own punishment, and how it is a dreadful stroke to thrive in an ill course. Was not the Church shaken with such a providence, Mal. 3. 15. Yea, tempted to call the proud happy, but in the ver. 18. They were taught from further obser­vation to discern or put a difference between the righteous and the wicked.—2. Do we not find that even the signs, and predictions of false prophets, in favour of a sinful way, may come to pass, Deut. 13. 1, 2. Whereof the Church is there warned, and God's intent in the same cleared, that it is for the trial of his People, whether they will love and fear the Lord, and cleave to his way, when providence would seem to shine on a crooked path.—3. Did not success for a time attend Absalom? Israel as one man went after him, yea, the friends and counsel­lours of David; a fair wind did also favour Haman in his essay to ruin the Church. Jeremy is almost shaken with it, yea they have taken root, yea, they grow, and bring forth fruit. But is not this at last usual­ly [...]ound an ominous weather breeder before a storm [Page 162] though the brutish Man knoweth not, nor fools lay it to heart for what the wicked doth oft spring, and flourish. I would add Israels falling before Benjamin, it was an astonishing like providence; and Habakkuk was put to a stand with such a thing, why the Lord lookt on, while the wicked devoured the righteous. Yea, Joshua was to cry out in an amazement. O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their back before their enemies! But we have also the Lord's intent therein witnessed by his word, that this is to humble and prove his People, that he may do them good in the latter end; and thus he beateth them off from all carnal grounds of confidence; he woundeth them to a cure; that by bringing them low, he may raise and fit them for a further mercy

6. What great disappointments hath the Church met with, when [...] grounds of confidence, and or­dinary means have been most promising, as it is a thing most true, so it may seem strange at the first look: but let us bring it to the word and the case will be there answered. Deut. 32. Why should one chase a thousand, but because their rock hath sold them! And therefore their strength is gone, with the Lord's depar­ting from them. For, when a time of judgment is come, even the mighty then find not their hands, counsel faileth to the ancient, ordinary means bring not forth their wonted effects: which Solomon shew­eth, and after-ages have oft seen, The race not ever to the swift, nor the battel to the strong. It is also clear from the word, how threatning a condition that is, for the People of God to be much carried out after means, or lifted up therewith: Isai. 30. they will ride on horses, and this shall be their punishment. But on the other hand, the Lord's way in bringing forth his greatest works, hath not been by might and by [Page 163] power, but oft by means most improbable, and unexpected.

7. The long continuance of a heavy afflicting rod on the Church, without the appearance of an escape, or any return to much wrestling and prayer on that account, may seem a strange step in God's way with his People. But the word will answer us in such a case where it is clear,—1. That there are no bounds in the Scripture set to the continuance of a trial. It doth not tell how long a sharp storm may ly on, either as to the Church, or any particular Christian; for it is a piece of the Lord's secret counsel, but not of that which is revealed: it is enough, that we know from it, that men cannot make the Church's suffering longer, than God's time.—2. It was a long term that of Is­raels tryal in Egypt; & after under the captivity, three hundred & ninety days must the Church ly on her left side. O how many a sad day and wearysome night was there in that word 70 weeks are deter­mined upon thy people, and city Jerusalem.—3. Have not the saints under a long trouble gone almost the length of blasphemy, in their complaints! Isa. 40. 27. My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment post over from my God. Daniel, how pressing with the Lord was he, that He would hearken, and do and not defer! and yet the return cometh not until the first year of Cyrus. Yea, that cry of the souls under the altar? How long! doth it not even get a dilatory answer? For thus the Lord doth oft interpose his long-suffering for sometime, betwixt his people, and avenging of them.—4. It is also clear that there are many prayers before the Throne, the re­turn whereof is suspended, and an Answer to Christi­ans, in their particular, until that Time when God shall build up Zion, and then the Prayer of the desti­tute shall be remembred, even as to Christians pri­vate enlargement, when the Church shall be raised [Page 164] up.—5. We know the Church's enemies must have time to ripen, and it is not a storm of a few days, that will purge away the filth of the Daughter of Zion. Too soon letting out of a sore may cause it to putrify the more, and gather new matter. And truly the word can resolve us in this, that one minute sooner than God's time would not be his people's mercy.

8. It is oft seen when there is some remarkable work of God on foot in a land, and some great outpouring of the spirit, how Satan setteth up some usual counterfeit thereof, and bringeth forth something of his work in such a time, with a very strange resemblance of the same. Thus, with the preaching of the freedom of grace, and a clear discovery of that truth, did Liber­tinism under a very specious pretext spring up. Thus we find the Anabaptist, and Antinomian party, set up in Germany, to run down a Church-reformation, under the shew of a more pure and spiritual way: and of late did not Familism in England, under pre­text of a more spiritual dispensation, cast off the very letter of the Scripture, turning it over in to Alle­gory, and in behalf of the liberty of prophesying cry down a standing ministry? But though this may seem strange, yet the Scripture is very clear, concerning it;—1. That even Satan himself is trans­formed into an Angel of light, and in no shape pro­veth more dangerous to the Church.—2. That the most dreadful errours and a false way will oft come near to the choicest exercises of the saints, and have such a resemblance to the same, that if it were pos­sible the very elect should be deceived.—3. Was there not a Simon Magus with false miracles set up over against the Apostles? And when the time of the Mes­sias drew near, did not then a Theudas; and Judas of Galilee, break forth to amuse the people? We find also an altar from Damascus set up beside that which way shewed to Moses the Servant of the Lord in the [Page 165] mount; yea, when Moses and Aaron were giving Pharaoh a sign, and did shew forth the marvellous power of God, then did the Magicians cast down their rod also, to counterfeit the same, by which the heart of Pharaoh was hardned.

9. The abounding of much error and heresie, now in the time the Gospel, with that swift growth there­of, which is oft seen where the light most clearly shi [...]eth, seems strange; yea, is a thing whereat many are ready to stumble, and thus to challenge the way of God: But is not the Scripture in this clearly verified, so that this piece of providence, which is so shaking to many, if we take the word a­long with it, might be a very convincing confirmation to us of the same? For,—1. We find the Apostles, yea, Christ himself hath given express warning thereof, that this should be one of the special and greatest tryals of the Christian Church; whereof the Old Tes­tament we find doth little mention, that trial not con­cerning the Church then so much, as these after­times under the Messiah's Kingdom: wherein the event may be clearly seen, to answer these predictions, which are so frequent thereof in the New Testament.—2. Doth not the event also answer the word as to that particular way and method, how error should be propagated, which is there clearly foretold, by subtil undermining, under the pretext of liberty, with plausible insinuations? so that we must say, not only as to the matter, but with all these discernable tokens, even upon the manner, the word is made out.—3. Do we not find, this should be a judgment on men, who receive not the love of the truth; and that after flou­rishing times of the Church, when he who rideth on the white horse, is gone forth, the black horse and his rider doth quickly follow? And truly it is seen, that in the time of hottest persecutions, the Church hath not been so much troubled with this adversary, as [Page 166] when she did begin to get rest, and [...] liberty, not yet so at the first breaking [...] Gos­pel, as after some time of its continuance. 4. Doth not the event likewise thus answer the word, that in the breaking out of heresy in the Church, a spirit of error, the depths and mighty working of Satan should be seen; which I am sure is undeniable, how manifest the interposing of these powers of darkness is therein, if we consider, 1. Its marvellous dispatch and growth, like a plague, and the arrow that flieth by day.—2. With what a discernable fury and vio­lence men are thus driven, as with an impetuous cur­rent: yea, oft a change on their very natural temper is seen most evidently.—3. Those monstrous and horrid things, which are oft brought forth, may shew whose hand is in such a birth.—4. That usual tendency, that at last error hath to looseness in practice which as it poisoneth the spring, and corrupteth the leading faculty, the judgment, so we see, it moveth towards the vital spirits, and doth influence the con­versation; and the leprosy in the head breaketh forth in blains through the whole body.—5. And do we not see how many gross and profane have been carri­ed away at such a time, how few have power to stand, but are still carried from one step to another? And it is clear, the world did never put out its rage so much against that way, as it hath done against the truth, except when some outward interest maketh it a quarrel.

10. These great shakings and commotions, that use to attend the Gospel, when it cometh in power to a land may also seem strange, yea, are ready to make many stumble. But is not the word verified herein, what great stirs and troubles did exercise the Church after great light in pouring out of the spirit? Joel. 2. 29. We may there likewise see, how this giveth the World an Alarm, maketh the Kings and great [Page 167] men of [...] rising of Christ's [...] us break his bands, &c. For [...] Christ's rising in the Gospel hath [...] its enemies, that this should be their fall [...]. When the Apostle hath an effectual door opened in his ministry, he hath also much opposition thereto. But on the other hand, all is still and quiet, while the strong man doth keep the house. Yea, it is clear from the word, that where the Gospel cometh there is a red flag hung forth, that if men will not receive the same, and sub­ject to him who rideth on the white horse, one shall come after, whose work is to take peace from the earth, to put the world in a flame, and to accom­plish the judgment of a despised gospel; who shall divide betwixt the husband and wife, the parents and children: wherein our blest Lord Jesus is ex­press, Matth. 10. 34. I come not to send peace on the earth, but rather a sword. Which might seem strange from him; but it is to tell men, if they will not embrace the offer of his peace, they shall not have peace among themselves. For the message of the gospel must either be the best, or the worst sight, that ever a land had.

11. This may seem strange how in all ages men of greatest parts and learning, are such usual opposers of truth; yea, how the most sober and calm will even appear violent in their way, the more the gospel is followed with power. But, O! how well doth this answer the scripture? For the wisdom of this world is enmity to God.—1 Cor. 3. 19. Not many wise according to the flesh, comparatively with these who hate the truth.—Of all the beasts of the field was not the serpent Satan's choice? and if there be an Achitophel in the time, at him he will have a special pull; to such the simplicity of the gos­pel [Page 168] is foolishness; whereat they stumble; to such Christ is a rock of offence. We find, the light doth torment them that dwell in the earth, will cause men to blaspheme, and discover that which would not appear, whilst they got leave to enjoy their sinful peace without disturbance.

12. Those strange judgments which may sometimes befal the Saints in their outward lot, yea, sometimes attended with some very astonishing circumstances, would at the first look put men to a stand, and to chal­lenge the holy way of God. But let us weigh it in that ballance of the Scripture, and we will find, 1. That such hath been the complaint of the Saints, the Lord's wounding them with the wound of a cruel one; what a strange query is that in Lament 2. 20. Behold, and consider, to whom thou hast done this! shall the women eat the fruit of their womb? shall the Priest and Prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? yea, did it not even to Solomon seem strange, Eccles. 8. 14. That there are just men to whom it happeneth ac­cording to the work of the wicked! 2. It looked like some strange stroke which forced David to this complaint, my enemies cast iniquity on me, and say an evil disease (or as the original readeth it, a thing of Belial) cleaveth to him. We find, Josias fell by the sword; Eli, with one stroke, hath his sons killed, his Daughter-in-law dying, and himself falling from his seat, and breaking his neck; yea Aaron hath both his sons killed before his eyes, by an immediate stroke from the Lord. 3. The word doth also shew, there is no jar betwixt this, and the tenor of the Cove­nant, which God hath made with his people, to punish their transgression with rods, yea, sometimes by a strange rod, while he taketh not his loving kindness from them. And do we not find, that a profitable trial may attend the saints, which the world would think a dreadful judgment; for great sufferings [Page 169] may be ordered of the Lord, to give some great ex­amples thereby; we have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord.

13. The gross falling of those who have sometimes shined with much lustre in the Church, may be astonish­ing: but here also we may see the scripture made out, for it is clear, First, that few instances of the most eminent of the Saints, we have on Scripture-record, but there is some particular spot and blemish also noted, a Noah, Lot, Moses and David, yea, under the new Testament that great Apostle, whose denyal of his master is set forth, to shew how far some may fall, whom grace will again restore, and make up. 2. It is there clear, that some of understanding do fall for a judgment to others; that such who will stumble, whose prejudice at the way of God is their choice, may thus further fall and be broken.—3. The blest meaning and intend hereof we may there also read to Alarm men to watchfulness, that such who stand may take heed lest they fall; to warrant also their ad­venturing on the grace of God, that none should fear to come in after such eminent examples.

14. The contingency of events, that we see many things in such a casual way fall out in the world, as by chance only, without the rational conduct of providence (which doth infallibly direct things to a certain end) this might at the first look, put men to a stand, yea, would seem to give Atheists some sha­dow to say, How doth God see, or doth the God of Jacob regard? But upon a more serious enquiry, set­ting the word over against it, O what a sweet exercise should it be to consider,—1. That though the provi­dence of God, in things here beneath, moveth suta­bly to the nature of inferior causes, whither necessary, free, or contingent, not violencing them, or other­ways making use of them but according to their nature, so that though the event be necessary and [Page 170] infallible, with a respect to the first cause, the deter­mined counsel of God, it is nevertheless contingent in respect of its nearest cause; yet, this also on the other hand is clear, how these smallest and most ca­sual motions do certainly fall under that comprehen­sive reach of providence, that even a sparrow falleth not to the ground by guess; Rebecca cometh not with her pitcher to the well, nor Ruth to glean in Boaz's field at an adventure: but in these the providence of God must reach its end, and cannot miscarry.—2. That those things which to us would seem most casual, we oft see in their tendency and product have been intended by the Lord, as a special means for the promoting of his glory; wherein such a wonderful meet­ing and uniting of things, in themselves most remote, for that end, may be truly discerned, that if prejudice do not shut mens eyes, they must confess, this can be no blind chance but some high counsel, and conduct of the same. What would look more contingent, than that Ahasuerus was indisposed to sleep, and could have no rest in the night? Or that a reflection of the sun upon the waters, should make them appear as blood to the Children of Moab? But we see what great things the Lord is thus bringing about. 3. Is it not oft ma­nifest how not the smallest casuality, or circumstance, providence doth pass without some improvement there­of? yea, that it guideth the stroke of a mans sword in the battel, and directeth the bullet to its appoint­ed mark, and doth evidently check the stars, and control that fatal necessity, which we are ready to fear may or will follow their aspect, and doth even deter­mine those which in themselves are most free & abso­lute, the heart and will of man! Must not the crow­ing of the cock, & the soldiers dividing of Christ's gar­ments fall out for an accomplishment of the Scripture? And tho' it was at a venture, that that man drew the bow, which sent Ahab to his grave, yet it was no [Page 171] chance did direct the arrow between the very joynts of his armour.—4. Amidst the various emergents and hazards of mens life, may not experience tell, that surely things contingent are not abandoned to for­tune, but there is a providence, which doth number our hairs, & without which they cannot fall to the ground! O how astonishing may it be, to think how surprizing hazards have been oft obviated; By what unexpected means men have been delivered from violent assaults! how help unlooked for hath even come in at an extremity, yea, while their foot was slipping even betwixt their falling, and fall, they have been surprized with some remarkable cast of mercy.—5. Is it not easy to discern, how many accidents which seem most casual, yet by no humane prudence or industry can be prevented, but are obser­vably brought about and guided to fulfil the threat­nings of the word on ungodly men! How was Sisera led in to the house of Jael, by other places! How should Haman's suit for Mordecai's death, fall in with that very morning, when the King's thoughts were favourable to him! for it might seem, had Haman been one day sooner, he would have got his will.

(¶) This is a grave and serious subject, and in such a day should be much studied, when so many are rea­dy to quarrel at the way of the Lord, and out of eve­ry thing suck poyson, when prejudices are now so universally abounding against the truth: that we may see what a witness there is, even in the most dark and astonishing steps of providence, to the truth and faith­fulness of God; yea how great a confirmation we may thence have of our faith, in such shaking times, whilst we see how these are special grounds against A­theism, and a most convincing refutation of the same, which are so much made use of to strengthen men in [Page 172] that way. I know the holy sovereignty of God should teach us to adore and keep silence, when we cannot fathom the depths of providence; and on this great satisfying truth we should stay, and fix our selves, when things seem strange to us, He is the Lord and with him there is no unrighteousness. It is sure, the condition of the damned in hell takes not off that ob­ligation to declare his faithfulness, and adore his unspotted justice: but O then it would cease to be hell, if such a blessed frame could have a being there. However, it is a necessary and concerning duty, when a matter seems too hard for us to understand, to enquire in the sanctuary; there is a warrantable search after the works of God that we may know them. Now besides those instances which have been already men­tioned, I would yet further touch some few steps of the providence of God, with a special respect to this present time, which may seem very strange, and be amazing; but when bro't to that test of divine truth, will be found a most satisfying confirmation thereof.

1. It may seem strange, to see the Church of Christ this day so universally brought low, and in a suffering condition, whilst the whole earth besides is at such rest and quiet: that if we now look any where abroad, affliction and contempt from men is seen in a very great measure, to attend the profession of godliness, but more especially the power thereof; yea that almost in every place the Church would seem to be upon a decay and a declining, rather than in an advance. I confess, this may cause great tho'ts of heart, when we consider that inestimable value, he whose the Church is, hath put thereon; what glorious things are spoken of her in the word, especi­ally with a respect to the latter days: and we have judged (I humbly think with a safe warrant) that this should be a solemn time of fulfilling those pro­mises, which yet point at a more universal raising [Page 173] and enlargment of the Church of Christ; yea, that in so great a measure we have seen some begun per­formance thereof, and therefore should conclude, the Lord's work herein cannot halt, until it be at the full height and at the perfect day. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord. Shall I cause to bring forth, & shut the womb? saith thy God. Is. 66. 9. But let us go in to the Scripture, & there enquire con­cerning this, and we will find,—1. How the Church and the World, in that interest of their joy & grief, as well as other interests, are stated in a most direct op­position. Joh. 16. 20. Verily, saith Christ, ye shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice. It should not be expected, those can be at rest together; since the trouble and suffering of the Church, it is a part of the world's ease and quiet. What a solemn jubilee does that cause to her adversaries, when they see before them the dead bodies of the wit­nesses of Christ! Revelat. 11. 10. No sight more rejoycing to such, because these are they who torment them who dwell in the earth. But when once the truth casts off her sackcloth, and the witnesses recover their feet; O what a terror doth this cause! They are pain'd, yea, their eyes ready to consume in their eye-holes with bitterness and anguish, that they have been at so sore work, and done so much against the Church, and yet cannot un­do her.—2. Should this be more strange now, than at that time when the city of Shusan and whole seed of the Jews were in perplexity, whilst the King and Haman sat down to feast, and rejoice over such a threatned ruin; for this seem'd to strike at the root of the Church universal! And was not that a broad and dark cloud, when this was writ in the Lamenta­tion of the Church, Zion is a wilderness, and Jerusa­lem a desolation; yea, could find no rest, no comforter any where! Lam. 1. 16, 17. But if such a provi­dence [Page 174] seem strange, that the Church now at this day should be with so violent and universal a storm run down, when so great things are promised, let us consider his way, who by the greatest downcasting and straits useth to bring about the most remarkable mer­cies; and do we not know the Devil appears with greatest wrath, and raiseth the forest storms, when he knows that his time is short.—3. If we consult the Scripture, we shall find, the adversaries of the Church have an hour which is their hour, and the power of darkness; for their sunshine is indeed a black and dark time; and then is there a strange astonishing concur­rence of outward advantages on their side: for they are thus established for judgment, and the wind must serve, and the tide make, until that that work in their hand be fulfilled. They could never have been such a a rod on the Church, if they were not appointed of the Lord for the same. Yea, is it not observable, whilst this their hour continues, there is then a power of darkness; such a time, when that hath an unusual force, and would seem to carry all before it, hath then a marvelous quick dispatch in its spreading from one place to another, to make a dark night, where the Gospel sometimes hath had a bright day! Yet we see how such a strange darkness hath but its hour, as to the prevalence thereof, even a set time for the Churches trial; and it is such an eclipse, were it ne­ver so universal, that must go over at its appointed period, and give place to light, before which the dark­ness can no longer stand: and then it shall be said to her, who had almost abandoned herself to sorrow, Arise and shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen. 4. Why should we be amazed at this where we may read so clearly something of the Lord's design, even by so sore and universal a stroak to appear in his glory, Psal. 102. 16. and thus raise his Church with an unspeakable advantage by such a supposed [Page 175] ruin! The Scripture is in this very manifest, that when the Lord is about some great building, and hath some excellent piece of work to raise up, a great deal of rubbish and breaking down useth to go before. Is it not thus also he makes the suffering graces of his Spirit in his people shine forth; that here the faith and patience of the Saints may be witnessed! yea, should we not know there is in every age a filling up of the sufferings of Christ in his people, and a testimony thus required to his truth, which the great witness himself did once seal and confirm with his blood, even he who before Pontius Pilate gave a good con­fession, and through all ages even to the close of time, there must not want some witnesses to the same! It is known, how some times of the Church are beyond others made remarkable for suffering: but it is no less clear, that in these times also the truth hath had the greatest victory, and herein a most special clearing up of some truths, which the world hath most studied to darken. Thus we see some ages of the Church may have a larger part of this testimony assigned. Yea, this remark may not only be of some different lot and service assigned to particular ages, but to particular Churches also.—5. If we enquire about this at the Scripture, we shall find also some re­markable proportion, that the turning again of the Churches captivity hath to her former bondage. Read Isa. 49. 19, 20. and 55. 13. Jer. 31. 39. And you may see what an ample restoration is there, which as with a measuring line is made to an­swer in breadth and length to her former calamity. We find Zion's rejoycing, when her time of re­freshment comes from the presence of the Lord, must reach all her mourners, and be as universal as once the cause of lamentation was. Isai. 66. 10. Is it not such an hour sometime with the Church, that a refreshing report is no where to be [Page 176] heard, but the tidings of the next day add more grief to the former days [...]orrow? Yet hath not such a time quickly followed, wherein the Church might say, The Lord hath encreased her greatness, and com­forted her on every side! And hath had a spring and re­viving upon the return of the Sun, as universal, as her decay and withering once was through the dead winter, Isai. 51. 3. And truly, whilst we con­sider the time in which we are now fallen, how the Church of Christ is every where low, and in a most languishing condition, Antichristianism now upon a formidable growth, as if there were an universal conspiracy to return again to Babylon, and if we will enquire hereabout at the Scripture, as we see this sad decay, we may thence conclude a certain delive­ry: Yea, that even by a day of vengeance the Lord can bring about the year of his redeemed. I humbly think, we may with a safe Scripture-warrant judge, that so universal a decay, such a great overspeading of darkness over the reformed Ch [...]es through the whole World, may give us ground to believe such a breaking out also of the Gospel, and of the knowledge of the Lord, that shall be of as large extent, even to the filling of the earth therewith, as the waters cover the sea. It will not be a particular shower and sun­shine of refreshing influences on some Church, It will not be the reviving of the work of God in these nations, I must think, will answer so broad a cloud, and so universal a vastation and lamentation through the whole Churches of Christ: But we may according to the Scripture look on this as a part of the last and most remarkable assault, that the Church universal shall have from Antichrist, before that full stroke on the seat of the beast; Yea, that this is a very pro­mising forerunner thereof. For when this party seems now to get up, and begins to move war, we have sure ground to believe his further falling thereby, and [Page 177] that every new assault which that grand adversary makes upon the Church; shall so far put for­ward her interest, and hasten his own ruin. Blessed are they who are helped in this dark hour to watch and wait until the vision break out, for it will assuredly speak in the appointed time.

2. These short breathings of the Church, now under the New Testament, may seem also strange, that we see her sunshine so quickly darkned with clouds, and followed with showers; that any lucid in­terval she enjoys, wants not long a new storm. We see this very clear, what hath been the usual lot of the Church universal through all the times of the gospel, how sore tossed and overclouded, her rest of short continuance: and as to particular Churches, is it not a small period of time, which useth to be betwixt one assault and another? So that they draw but a little their breath for some new trial. I confess this would be puzling, if such a piece of divine providence we should essay to unriddle without the Scripture; but we have the word near us, where we may see the fate and condition of the Church under the Gospel, the most remarkable steps in her way, those sharp assaults and short breathings she was to expect, most clearly foretold and held forth; yea by consulting this blessed record, we will find these.—1. That a more continued and fixed rest, than that which may be seen hitherto in the Church's condition, could not well be reconciled with the Scripture. There was indeed a great breathing, a most remarkable cessa­tion under Constantine's reign, after a storm of some ages continuance; but O how short! And it is said Rev. 8. 1. There was silence in heaven for half an hour. I would here offer some remarks about the way of the Lord in this.—(1.) That the cross and much affliction, we find, have a more peculiar respect to the dispensation of the gospel, than the times of the law; [Page 178] and this is specially suited thereto, To go through many tribulations. It is very consentaneous to a greater manifestation of grace under the New Tes­tament, that greater and more frequent trials for its exercise should also be let forth.—(2.) We find, such sore and usual assaults are not only suted to the most excellent condition of the Church in regard of spiri­tual priviledges, but do often befall the most excel­lent of the saints. Read Heb. 11. 32. (3.) This remark useth not to fail, how every particular Church, be­sides these ordinary changes and tossings in her lot, hath also some more solemn remarkable trials and some great assault beyond others, and accordingly hath some more singular breathings and sun-blinks suited thereto.—(4.) We cannot find any such calm and breathing, which hath not been very short, if we turn back and trace the history of the Church in former times, but the clouds have returned quick­ly after the rain; yea, we may observe how the most excellent Princes and Magistrates, under whom the Church hath had some sweet repose, have been oft in a very short time taken away, and have but lived a few years.—2. If we wonder at such a piece of the Lord's way, why his Church is thus tossed, doth not the Scripture shew what need she hath to be emptied from vessel to vessel; a long calm being no less her hazard, than a sharp storm; and more cause oft to watch over her outward rest, than weep over her trouble and tossings. Oh how oft hath the Church lost more by a few years peace, than a long continued war! yea, the necessity of a sharp winter, for her recovery, hath been so discernable ere it came, that if it were not for the downbearing of truth, and shaking of the faith of the saints, the continuance thereof might be almost wished as her advantage, at least is to be quietly sub­mitted unto.—3. Doth not the Scripture also wit­ness that continued lasting quarrel, which is betwixt [Page 179] the World and the Church, and is perpetuated from ge­neration to generation, that time cannot wear it out; so that if she had not so great a party for her, and an immediate support from heaven, we might find more cause to wonder she yet breaths, than to ask why her breathings are so short, when there is so great a pow­er against her? O if the Church had not this to an­swer all the messengers of the nations, about her secu­rity, That the Lord hath founded Zion, sure that long-breathing design for so many ages should at last have taken place, even to the razing of her foundation.—4. It is clear the most singular fellow­ship, and free access thereinto, with Jesus Christ on the earth, is by the cross, and in that way wit­nessed; that it must be said, if such afflicting times did not oft return upon his people, there would be a shut door betwixt the Church and a large part of the Bible, both as to its meaning, and as to its full breasts of consolation. Are there not most sweet re­freshing truths there, which the godly cannot reach so near & feeling a converse with, in an outward calm, as under some sharpest wrestlings! O what an excellent commentary hath a suffering time given upon these, beyond all that ever was written, on such a truth of the Scripture, Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed, as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. And thus, we see how in our stumbling at such a providence, we err not knowing the Scriptures, and mistake our own mercies.—5. Whilst we see those short intervals, which have so usually been under the New Testament, be­twixt one trial of the Church and another, and the cause thereof so clear from the word; let us also con­sider what warrant there is yet to expect, before the end a more solemn and remarkable time of the Church's Enlargement; that not only shall be very universal in its extent, but a more lasting and conti­nued [Page 180] rest from the violence of the world, than hath formerly been: which I humbly judge, on clear Scrip­ture grounds, we are to believe upon the coming of that full stroak on Babylon, and those solemn espou­sals of the Jewish Church to Christ, which seems to be the most remarkable period of that time appoint­ed for the Church's reign. And though this will not want some sharp trials, and a mixture of outward trouble, yet we find no ground from the Scripture, after the discussing of Antichrist and the throwing down of the Turkish empire, for any remarkable in­terruption and overclouding, or that the Church shall have any great assault until that final gather­ing of the world and her forces together, to the last battel of the Lamb.

3. Is not this a strange remark likewise, which is so usual a complaint through the Church, that with a greater increase of light and knowledge, there is seen a visible wearing out of life and power; and now in these more knowing times, there should be so much ground to say, tenderness and the serious exercise of Godliness is more worn out, and in a further decay, than in the times of greater ignorance: let us but look through the reformed Churches at this day, and then turn home to our selves, and we shall find this remark too sadly verified; how after a great in­crease of knowledge, the truths of God in such a measure cleared beyond former ages, it may be said, Oh whither is the life and power of godliness gone, and that fervour which once so convincingly appeared in following the Lord. We know, there is a sweet agreement betwixt the Christian's light and life, which have a mutual subserviency to each other, and yet to see so sad a jar this day, and so little pro­portion the one hath to the other, may put us with astonishment to a serious inquiry thereabout; but the scripture is clear and makes it plain, if we will [Page 181] consider. 1. That there is a time of a people's espou­sals to the Lord, and then the kindness of their youth and a remarkable time of love is seen. Jer. 21. 2. When their affection will be aloft after him; yea, such a solemn period of the Church's condition may be seen, when it hath not reached that light and knowledge, as after: but do we not also find, how rare it is for a people, to hold up at that rate and measure in their life and love, which at such times hath appeared, what­ever advance there may be as to light: Thence we find the Church's holding up with the name and pro­fession of godliness Rev. 3. 2. when very sore spent in her life; yea, this decay oft upon such an unsen­sible growth, that it will be hard to get such convinced thereof, and remember whence they are fallen.—2. If we will ask at the scripture, it will also shew that judicial tendency, which light not imp [...]rved hath to a further hardening; how under the gospel men may be made deaf with hearing. for judgment am I come in the world, faith Christ. Joh. 9. 39. which hath that effect, that those who see should be made blind. Light is surely one of the greatest talents of the Church, and brings with it either a remarkable gain, or loss; nothing so dreadful as this, when it is abused. O at what a rate doth it run down and stupify the consci­ence! that thus men are not only more deadned, but bcome the more dead and blind that they were once enlightned.—3. May we not thence know how this is one of the Devil's greatest engines he makes use of, to turn men's light against their life and tenderness, even to incite them, from that excellent discovery of the grace of God, unto wantonness. Jud. 4. and thus essay an agreement betwixt light and darkness. O what a dreadful po [...]son must that be! which can im­bitter so excellent a stream, and turn so choice and quickening a mean of our spiritual life, to be destruc­tive thereto! that we see knowledge, whose true [Page 182] and native tendency is to humble and abase, being thus impoisoned do's work the contrary effect, even to swell men and puff them up; to oppose those gifts against the Church, which are given of the Lord for its edification, and for defence of, the gospel! Thus we find it clear, when light hath made a further ad­vance in the Church, the Devil is there at work to destroy love, by many bitter, contentious Debates, where the interest may be oft seen more personal, to wit, men's repute and credit, than the interest of God and his truth. I am far from any intended reflection on that grave and necessary duty of appearing in de­fence of the truth, and men's stating themselves in op­position to those who are its adversaries; a quarrel, wherein they should know neither friend nor brother: for this is to stand in the breach, when it is assaulted, to contend for the faith. O blessed contention, where such with that excellent man Melanchton can say, Non quoero gloriam propriam, sed veritatem.—Though this is a very sad and threatning symptom that night is coming on a Church where the light shines, but the heat and warming influence thereof is gone; yet here is a riddle, we find the Scripture do's wonderfully unfold, how the Lord makes things bring forth con­trary effects, and causes a remarkable consumption, that seems to reach the Church in her inward and vital parts, resolve in an overflowing with righteousness. Is. 10. 22. yea, thus lets us see a people so far spent in life and spirituality, that the things which remain are ready to die, whilst even there, the Lord is pursuing their recovery. It is herein he makes his grace marvellous, to order his people's raising to be from so low a step of their condition, and cause his Church when bro't to a small remnant, to take root down­ward, and bring forth fruit upward. Is. 37. 31. It would seem a strange connection, but not strange to the grace of God, Ps. 102. that the time of his fa­vouring [Page 183] Zion even that set time, should find her in a heap of stones and rubbish; yea, that a reviving and the breaking out of her day begins there with the weep­ing of her friends over her ruins. I shall further add, with respect to the present time, we may believe on very sure grounds, that godliness and the power thereof will yet break out in the world, though it were at the lowest ebb, yea, as at its last breathing; that little spark now under ashes must assuredly revive and blow up to a flame; yea, send forth its heat to warm the nations; For on solid grounds we may thus reason, if such a death-like decay had a respect only to some particular Church, and if this withering, abatement and languishing of the exercise of grace, were confined but to a corner, it might be a sad presage, that their sun, when so far de­clined and gone down, were near to the setting: but since this seems to be a consumption over the whole earth, a matter of lamentation and a spreading com­plaint, through the whole reformed Church, we may look on it as a very promising ground, of confi­dence and hope of a recovery for if that be sure, the Church universal cannot die under such a disease, it is also sure, this sickness is not unto death; yea, so remark­able an opposition to the power of godliness, as is this day through the world, we may judge a very re­freshing presage of some, more universal out breaking of the same, wherein God will be seen by some blessed surprisal in a very immediate way: for there is hope of this tree, which in a special way he had himself planted, that it shall grow, though now cut down, by the scent of waters, even by the river the streams whereof makes glad the city of God; which can in old age cause her to bring forth fruit. O what life is there in the Church of Christ, when it seems to be buried! for she is in the root, that cannot dry up; & herein must his promise & his peoples praise [Page 184] meet, that her dry bones shall flourish as a green herb, there can be now no less appearance of this, than at that time when the Lord turned again the captivity of his people, which was so little expected, Ps. 126. that they knew not whether it was a dream, or real. It may indeed be a very humbling discovery, that we must say, our ruin is of our selves; yet must it not ruin our hope, since in these great things which the Lord hath done for the Church, the greatness of his power hath not been more clearly witnessed, than the free­dom and sovereignty of his grace, that men may see, this is the Lord's doing, and should be marvellous in their eyes.

4. May it not seem strange, and be matter of asto­nishment, that the great men of the earth, and such who sit in the place of judgment, are usually found to be greatest adversaries to the Church; yea, it is too well known, that magistracy (so excellent an ordinance of God) hath been so far perverted, that even under the Christian Magistrate the Church of Christ hath suffered more since first breaking out than from any other quarter, this indeed may seem marvellous; I do not deny, there have been great men in the world, who have no less outshined others in fervour and zeal for truth, than in their place and quality. But oh we may say, an age brings forth few such; and that which Salvian says of his time, hath been a true remark in most ages of the world, and too frequently seen, that the contempt upon religion by those who were in greatest power had this effect, Ut mali cogan­tur esse, ne viles habeantur. I confess this may cause wonder, (if we consider for what end the great Law-giver hath designed that ordinance) how men should so far counteract his interest, from whom they derive their power, and for being subservient thereto have re­ceived it: sure the doctrine of the Church of Christ can give no ground of quarrel: & its strange these should, expect from others homage & subjection, who turn the [Page 185] seat of judgment to be a grievous yoke, and deny their subjection so avowedly to the great judge: O how sad is it, that none are oft such a terror to the godly, such a support to evil doers, as Magistrates, and the great men of the world so usually found to be the greatest examples of wickedness! This should indeed be matter of lamentation, yea, that those are oft times advanced, who have nothing to commend them, but some advance beyond others in a higher measure of impiety. But we must go to the Scripture, and there inquire which will shew, (1.) That it is not strange, though iniquity have a throne, under whose shadow mischief may not only shelter, but come that length to be fram'd into a law. Ps. 94. 20. yea, it must not be strange, that the adversaries of the truth be among the chief of the time; which complaint we find Lam. 1. 5. The world is not yet cured of that mad­ness, of which the Prophet speaks with amazement, Ps. 2. 1. why the Kings and rulers of the earth should attempt a vain thing, to ruin the Church, and make his decree void, who by his word created the world. We may see, it is not of late the servants of Christ have been convened before rulers in defence of the truth, and have suffered by the law, where the crime was, their adherence to the express command of the great law-giver. Luk. 21. 12. It is also clear, the Kings of the earth for many ages have amidst all their private differences with one consent agreed to make war with the lamb, and give their strength for upholding An­tichrist; yet is this nothing else, but what the Scrip­ture hath foretold, Rev. 17. It was written of an excellent man in the days of Phocas, that after some humble expostulating with the Lord, why he set up so vile a wretch in the highest place of power that he had this return, quia non inveni pejorem. Herein is the way of the Lord unspotted, how sad so ever it be in it self, that those who should execute judgment for [Page 186] the oppressed, are in his holy displeasure made the exe­cutioners of his judgments on men, and shew them­selves the greatest oppressors (2.) If this be strange to us, do not the Scripture prevent our stumbling, by a most sweet and choice antidote, that when we see the oppression of the poor, and such a wrathful as­pect rulers usually have on the Church of God, we should not marvel, or be much moved thereat, even when we see those whom death hath pluckt away, and with shame rolled in the grave, still return with the same resemblance in their successors, and piety in all ages run down by power: For it is written, that he who is higher then the highest doth regard the same, Eccl. 5. 8. O how far are they below God, yea, infinitely below him, who are highest among men! hath not their violence and oppression of the Church him for a witness, whom they must also have for a judge? And the further they seem raised above human reach, they lie more near to some immediate stroak of a divine hand; that when there is no reprover on earth, none there to give their cruelty against the Church a check, he sits in heaven, who laughs them to scorn; which they shall find to be sad earnest, when he speaks to them in his wrath, and vexes them in his sore displeasure.—(3.) Does not the Scripture witness the Lord's blessed design in this, to make his Church thrive another way, when she is destitute of the help and countenance of civil authority, and thus lead her in to him, who hath the key of David, that opens and none can shut, unto him who is a known refuge for the oppressed? It is here he declares himself to be God, and the greatness of his power who can keep her alive, and preserve his interest in a destroying flame, and under a cruel oppressing Magistrate; yea, thus cause her to flourish in his days, and have peace in his reign, even under the grievous reign of her adversaries. Do we not likewise find (Neh. 9. 36.) the [Page 187] Church's distress there and oppression from her ru­lers, makes them resolve in a more near tie and con­junction with God? which is seen in the last verse, And because of this we make a sure covenant, &c. O blessed violence and oppression, that lands here, where the storm drives to such an anchor, as a further cleaving to the Lord, and surrender of themselves to him!—(4.) As the Scripture prevents men's stumbling at this ordinary suffering of the Church under Magi­stracy, it does also witness the Lord's contending ve­ry remarkably against these on such an account; and clearly sheweth, that no human greatness can secure from him who cuts off the spirit of Princes, and is terrible to the Kings of the earth; consider Ps. 2. 9. and 93. 4. It is here we may read the cause of the chan­ges of Kingdoms and states, that are so frequent in the world. Whatever influence personal interests seem to have, there is a holy revenging God, and his arm made bare therein upon the quarrel of his Church that he may recompense tribulation to those who have troubled her. None needs wonder, that flourishing states are broken in such a quarrel; to see the supreme head of the Church (that in all things he may have the preheminence) wound the head over many countrys, and rule the nations with an iron rod, yea, turn great men out of their grandeur and authority, and and throw them down: for the cause is obvious, they keep no bounds and marches, with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, but will be over him & invade his inter­est, until he who must reign, and have all dominion and power subjected to him, carry that war back upon themselves, and stand up against such evil neighbours, for his own right; for which he will strike thorough Kings in the Day of his wrath, yea, pursue the race and seed of such oppressors, the father and the children, as a standing quarrel from generation to generation.—(5.) It is sure, corrupt Magistracy is one [Page 188] of the great plagues of God on the world; wherein his unspotted righteousness, and the provoking cause from men, may be seen in the Scripture; that when such will throw off his yoke, and quarrel with his autho­rity, in subjection to which their liberty lies, they should have one more grievous, and unsufferable, wreathed on them, and be delivered up to the hands of such cruel exactors. I must here say, the Lord do's visibly contend, by such a stroke, with that excessive flattery and respect the nations gives their rulers, that blind obedience they give, contrary to the express will of the Law-giver, by a willing following of the com­mandment; and thus writes that [...]sin on their judg­ment, that the hand of men should be heavy and sore on their own interests, who can so easily comply with their oppression of the Church and invading the interests of God. But here is no intended reflection on that divine ordinance of Magistracy, whereon his image is so visibly impressed; though in all ages there hath been sad cause to bewail the abuse of so great a trust and power, and to see it so destructive to the end for which it is designed.

5. This also seems strange and is a very shaking thing, to see some of greatest repute and eminency in the Church, who have been singularly useful to engage others in the way of the Lord, change their principles with the time, and turn at last in opposi­tion thereto; yea, make it their work to cast down what once with great zeal they seemed to build; I confess, this may give sad ground of stumbling, and nothing Atheism takes more advantage of, to question the truth of all Religion, whether there be any thing fur­ther than a humane interest in it, when men's light in the matters of God and the doctrine of Mini­sters are found so cross to themselves with the changes of the time. Blessed are they who are not offended at Christ because of this; but let us consult the Scrip­ture, [Page 189] and then instead of being shaken or brangled we shall find this such a special confirmation of the truth, that if it were not thus, men might rather question the same. For, (1.) Such a shaking trial is clearly foretold, from cross tides of Doctrine, that should be within the Church, Eph. 4. 14. yea, a warning given of those who handle the word deceitfully, 2 Cor. 4. 2. by accommodating it to their private interest and design, and a corrupt Application thereof: for when men do once establish the Conclusion before the pre­misses, for compliance with a sinful course, they are then at work to wrest the Scripture by misapplying it. 2 Pet. 3. which is indeed to oppose the truth against it self, and sute it to their biass, that they may salve such a visible opposition betwixt them and themselves in their way and practice. And thus what ever fair shew they make in the flesh, they expose the word, and their parts and abilities in handling of it, to sale (O an accursed sale and merchandize!) Now if this seem strange and be stumbling, that amongst the dispensers of the mysteries of God, and of greatest re­pute in the Church, such should be found, read 2. Cor. 2. 17. And you will there see the cause why many corrupt the word, because they are not in sin­cerity and as in the sight of God therein, which is absolutely required to qualify a faithful Minister of Christ. Oh! The want of that candor and uprightness of heart is a worm, which lies hid at the root of all their other parts, and as a dead corrupting fly in so excellent a box of oyntment. Thus we may see, this is so far from being a cause of stumbling at the truth, that it do's most convincingly fulfil and and verifie the same. (2.) When we have so sad a dis­covery in the Church, have we not this antidote like­wise from the Scripture, not to be shaken or moved thereat, Heb. 13. 9. But that we study to know and be perswaded of the truth, that they quiet and support [Page 190] the soul, though we should be left alone in follow­ing duty. The testimony of God is sure, and immo­vable; and he is true, though all men should be liars. We must have the persons of none in admira­tion which hath so usual a tendency to bribe the judgment, and betray the truth: but though an A­postle or an Angel from heaven should come to op­pose the Scripture of God, we ought in so far to let him be accursed.—(3.) Here also is the holy counsel and design of the Lord made known, that those who are approved may be made manifest; and such have an opportunity to discover themselves, who turn aside to crooked paths, and tread in the dark to the prejudice of the truth. Ps. 125. 5. They may dig very deep to hide their opposition to God, not only from others, but even from themselves: but pro­vidence herein hath a deeper reach, and ensnares them in the work of their own hands; yea, doth thus bring them forth with the workers of iniquity, and as his greatest adversaries, who wound and betray his interest under that mask, and disguise of a friend, this is indeed a preventing mercy to the Church, whose hurt and hazard hath been more from these who walk under a cover then any other party; and here is the counsel of the Lord shew'd, that when a piercing trial comes, which will go thorow the soul like a sword, the thoughts of many hearts may be then discovered. There is a falling in of many with the Church under a calm, who must fall off with a storm. It is strange, to think how small the first en­try of a further declining will be, when once there is a tendency and byass that way, how hard is it to joyn in a familiar correspondence with the adversaries of the truth without joyning in some measure with their way; yea, it is seen, these usually are more ensna­red, then the adverse party by any such tampering are bettered; It is a sad truth, which is said of Ephra­im, [Page 191] strangers devoured his strength, yet he knew it not. Hos. 7. 8. It is no wonder, when men come the length of detaining the truth in unrighteousness, and withstand the giving of a testimony thereto when called, that the next step be, some appearance a­gainst it (4) Is it not clear from the Scripture, that the righteous God, doth thus rain snares on men? yea, this is one of the woes the world is under be­cause of offences; for the fall and turning aside of such is a sad stroak on others, whilst they use not to fall alone when those become a stumbling block, whose lips should preserve knowledge, whom the people are to consult concerning the law, and thus be the greatest cause of offence themselves, whose work is to strengthen and confirm others. O what a sore plague is this on a poor Church, when it is low, to break her further, and make her distem­per grow. We may truly say, it is more threatning then sword, famine or pestilence, against a nation. It is a strange ground, which is given of the departure of these from the faith, who were once in repute of the Church, yea, of the breaking out of Antichrist in the world, 2 Thes. 2. 12. that it was to punish them who believed not the truth, and would not embrace the same; O it is a sad and dreadful time to live in, where such offences abound! for it clearly shews a judicially plaguing time upon the Church, and some great abuse of the Gospel which hath gone before.—(5.) When this seems strange to us, should we not learn to adore and justify him, who thus stains the pride of all flesh and will silence the confidence or boasting of instru­ments, that the Church may know where her strength lys, this is a remark, though sad, which seldom fails, that the greatest endowments and gifts, where men are swell'd & lift up therewith, have a more easie and native byass against the truth, then for it, and threatens the Churches hazard, more than any advantage the exercise [Page 192] of these gifts can promise and the greater repute men walk under, where humility keeps not low, lays them the more near some humbling stroak, to bring them low, ere they go off the stage, that no flesh may glory in his presence, 1 Cor. 1. 26. We must say, the greatest Hero's in the Church of Christ, who have shined, e­ven to their setting, most brightly, have been also the most humble.—(6.) As it is clear, there is no jar be­twixt the Scripture and this, but it is so great a con­firmation thereof, that it should further strengthen and establish us in the way of the Lord (for the falling off of such from the truth is a trial most expresly foretold, and a convincing witness to the truth of the Scripture) so this also must be granted, that there are Ministers and watchmen in the Church of Christ, in all ages, found faithful to their Masters interest, who have been not only helped to confess the truth, and deliver the counsel of God to the World, but to witness their adhe­rence to and perswasion of it by suffering. O can the World debate this, that such in the worst of times are found to drive a treaty of reconciliation betwixt Christ and sinners, who are in earnest, and have a weight of that work on them, without respect to outward en­couragement? O happy Servants of so great a Master who consider that they shine with borrowed light, and derive all from him, whether as to grace or gifts, that therein they may return to him again, by a faith­full improvement of their talent; who reckon they cannot be low, where he is exalted; they cannot lose where the gain is his; but in this doth rejoice, to see him increase, and his Kingdom on an advance, though they decrease, and be darkened with the brightness of his rising!

6. I know this is an astonishing thing, which many pretend a cause for stumbling, to see how some have walked, and at what a rate, under a profession of godliness, and for so long a time have had the appear­ance [Page 193] of being serious and tender, yea, have thus perso­nated the walk of a Christian, whom an after-discovery hath proved, not in some particular only, but in the main interest of religion, to be without reality and truth. This may indeed seem strange, and because of wonder, that men having the use of reason should be at so sore a toil, to hold up a form of godliness, and the external exercise of Christian duties, only for a form, who, might with another kind of facility and unspeakable pleasure have reached both the shadow and the substance, by being truly serious: and it is sure, if such get not the impression of a Deity razed out of the soul (which is impossible) there must be sometimes ter­rour in their approach to God; though not in any se­cret retirements, (for this should be a piece of their torment, to come so near their conscience, and be alone with it, lest it flee in their face) yet with others, when such a witness they have within, that it is their deliberate work, to deceive at once, the great God, their generation, and their own soul! But oh this is not more strange, than true; yea, many such pretenders are, and will be, within the pale of the visible Church. And is there not a divine hand marvelously oft seen in rending that vail, and bringing those forth to the light, in such a way as may witness that this is from the Lord! Now there is no ground of challenge or reflection here, on his holy & unspotted way, or the reality of god­liness, if we will but seriously enquire at the Scripture; where we have this (1.) expresly foretold, that men should have a form of godliness, and deny the power thereof. 1. Tim. 3. 5. profess to know God, being abominable, disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Tit. 1. last ver. Yea, will come in sheeps clothing, yet be ravenous wolves! Have not some of the Church's sharpest trials been in such a way ushered in, even under a false shew? and have not the most cruel persecuters entered the stage as friends: [Page 194] You know how the man of sin did first step in; was he not thus masked? and is not the Scripture clear, that to seek a Church free of such a mixture out of heaven, is to seek that which we will never find, for it is there only, no unclean thing can enter.—(2.) Do's not this blessed record of the scripture shew, with what singular art and advantage such may act that part, and with Jehu enquire, if the man's heart be right, whilst his own is most false; what a strange confidence will these have, who glory in appearance, and not in heart? Will they not cry unto God, and make mention of him, but not in truth. Is. 48. Yea, should we wonder, though such be found, who can mask their private interest with such an appearance, even whilst they seek a rule for their religion out of Matchiavel, but not out of the Bible!—(3.) If the length that these may come, seem strange, will you consult the Scripture, which goes as great a length in its discovery, and you will know how deep it works, sometimes not at an ordinary rate, but they will invite the world to see their zeal for God, who dare not endure the view of their own conscience. Therein you may find an Apostle, and one of the twelve, and yet a Devil. To witness this, should be no reflection on the Church of Christ, though an emi­nent Minister thereof be found rotten and unsound, who hath made a great shew in the flesh.—(4.) Do's the Scripture allow or flatter any in such a way? You cannot there have one line for its encourage­ment: but whilst human law do's not reach this, divine Law most severely threatens, Joh 8. 13. &c. Matth. 7. 15, &c. And there you may see it in its own colour, how horrid a thing it is, which the more near it do's approach Religion (that is so excellent and lovely in itself) this false shew thereof is the more hateful and loathsome. Yea, even these who comply with it in themselves, are made to loathe it in others, which is in the highest measure a falshood and [Page 195] lie, because a lying to the God of truth. (5.) You cannot challenge the Church and followers of Jesus Christ, that by them any such thing is owned or jus­tified: but it may be seen, what an offence and wound such a discovery will prove, to these. It is indeed a cause of grief, but no cause of reflection on the truth of God: for in so far this is verified, They went out from us, because they were not of us, 1 Joh. 2. 29.—(6.) Is not that horrid and black roll mention'd by the Apostle, 1 Tim. 2. 3. claspt as it were betwixt these two, a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof? It is not strange, when Religion is attended with much power in a place, that hypocrisy is found there also: but it is clear, what remarkable discove­ries have been made thereof, that seldom such who have most industriously studied that accursed art, have gone to the grave under this cover; though I deny not but some may. I must further add, that some spe­cial incitement and concurrence of the devil is here oft very manifest and his power as remarkably put forth, as in any lust of the flesh, to put some forward on such a design; yea, even may be subservient to them in the exercise of common gifts, that may deceive for the time very discerning Christians. I cannot question the truth of this, having ground to instance such, who have been in an express covenant with Satan, and have after acknowledged his help and assistance, for their dexterous managing so dreadful a design: if you think this strange, you may consider, that the devil himself is transformed to an Angel of light. But it is well, the grossest defilement of men can no ways stain Religion, and the way of the Lord, which is pure and undefiled.

7. Those sad jarrs and divisions, which are so fre­quent in the Church of Christ, may seem very strange, and be the cause of stumbling & offence to many? that whilst the World is at such an agreement, and of one [Page 196] mind to oppose the truth, those are oft found at war, most bitterly contending amongst themselves, even those who should stand in the breach, for the truth and in defence of the Gospel, the fellow-servants at strife and smiting one another, when they should be striving to­gether about their Master's work. I confess, this is sad, and is a rock whereon many have split; of which they have made that use to a further heightening of their prejudice against the truth: Yea, it is strange that this destroying plague doth so observably attend any peace or calm, that the Church hath in her outward condition. But there is no cause for such stumbling; if we will allow it some serious thoughts, it may rather help to fix and establish us in the way of the Lord, and in stead of being a poison, may be an effectual antidote against the same, I mean the A­theism of the time, which pretends so great an advan­tage from this. For the Scripture is clear, (1.) Tho' it is a sore stroke on the Church, and the most sad departure of God from a People, which we have upon divine record, we find usually attends them in such a torn and divided case; yea, though in all the re­cords of after-times, this may be traced in the break­ing out of a judgment, as a very immediate forerunner thereof: yet, have we no warrant to expect the Church militant shall be in that condition in which there shall be no such discord and breach. No, that is heaven, and it is there only that perfect peace and concord will be found; read, 1 Cor. 1. 10. Rom. 15. 5. And what an early trial was this to the Church which did occasion that grave and solemn meeting of the Apostles and Elders (Acts 15.) to let us see how the Lord can serve himself of the greatest evil for the advantage of his truth.—(2.) There is no cause of challenge here or reflecting on the truth, whatever be on those who profess it, since the Scrip­ture shews that we know but in part, and prophesie in [Page 197] part, and such a prevailing mixture of corruption, that some will preach Christ out of strife and conten­tion, not sincerely. Phil. 1. 15. Yea, whilst there are such different sizes amongst the Saints, that those who eat not, are ready to judge them who eat, and those who eat, are ready to despise him who eat­eth not. (3.) If we consult the Scripture, we shall find that peace and concord within the Church, which is so excellent in it self & desirable, must be se­verely qualified with a respect to holiness. Heb. 12. 14. For else such an agreement would not be the true peace of the Church, but her plague. And is not that wisdom, which is from above, first pure, and then peaceable? It is sure, they are its best friends, who have least latitude to take or give in the interest of truth: but it is oft found, how such indirect tam­perings for peace, have in the judgment of the Lord caused a further breach. There is no true jar be­twixt the zeal of God, and an ardent desire and endeavour for peace, but what our corruption caus­eth. O this is a blest peace-maker, who can go the furthest length to yield in his own things, whether credit or private interest, yea, overlook the most sharp personal reflections, to promote that excellent design; but hath nothing to yield or quit upon his Master's interest, and can resist, whosoever they be that would prejudice this, even to their face! have we not that Heroick practice of the Apostle (Gal. 2. 5.) upon divine record to this day? to whom we gave place no not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might con­tinue with you. Is not that also a special remark, that those who cause division in the Church, & were there­fore to be noted (Rom. 16. 17.) it was those who did oppose the doctrine of the Church? For it is men's fal­ling off from the truth, which is indeed the cause of a schism and rent; but not their adherence to it, tho' for this they should be men of contention and look't [Page 198] on as signs and wonders in the time.—(4.) Whatever advantage some may take to challenge the way of the Lord, from these breaches, I am sure, they cannot deny, there is a fellowship and concord in the Church of Christ beyond any in the world. There is a commu­nion of the saints, even here, with one heart and mind; yea, in such a measure as may shew the world this is a bond that exceeds the most near and strait ties of natural relations. Eph. 4. 3. 16. and truly every jar and difference amongst the followers of Christ, make not a breach.

8. I know, that this will seem strange and astonish­ing in the way of the Lord, that when the Church from her adversaries without is oppressed and brought low, his hand in a very immediate way also is so heavy, yea, seems more sore upon his people, than the hand of men; and do's even by some sad strokes in their private interests, and upon their persons, appear more remarkably against them, than against any others. this may occasion great thoughts of heart, when we consider that tenderness which the Lord doth witness towards his people, that he stirs not up all his wrath nor will lay upon them above that they can bear, but stays his rough wind in the day of the east-wind, and hath promised to be a sanctuary, and hiding place, when they are scattered by men, Ezek. 11. 16. And with another party the Church might debate, yea, hold her own with her greatest adversaries: But oh! it is time to flee, and there can be no standing, where the Almighty pursues. There is then true cause of fear and terror, when he becomes his people's party! Yet let us consult the Scripture, that great interpreter of providence, & of every step of the way and procedure of the Lord with his Church; and it will let us see, (1.) That it is no strange case, or untroden path, but we may find the Prophet, Jer. 17. 17. at such a grievous cry, Be not a terror to me, thou art my hope [Page 199] in the evil day. And had not the Church the same cause of complaint, Jer. 30. 14, 16. that the Lord seem'd to wound her, with the wound of an enemy, and the stroke of a cruel one. It was the appearance of this, that was a very sad addition to her trial beyond any other thing, Is. 63. 10. that they found the Lord turn'd to be their enemy, and in an immediate way seem to fight against them.—(2.) Do's not the Scripture shew that the rod may have a dreadful appearance, and the way of the Lord by some strange and singular circum­stances in dealing with his people may be matter of amazement, when yet he designs a further increase of their grace; yea, their trial, more than their punish­ment? This is indeed one of the deeps of providence, which we have discovered in, Job 1, & 2. Chap. how by a divine permission Satan may very effectualy concur in a stroke on the Church, or some particular Chris­tian, and thus cause strange concurrence of bitter things, that in such a case the hand of the Lord would seem very terrible, whilst he only minds his people's trial: and it is clear, that the fiery trial, mentioned by the Apostle, 1 Pet. 4. 12. may have such strange and sin­gular circumstances, that the godly will be at a ques­tion, if such did ever befal others, and yet you see it there held forth more as a ground of joy, than of fear. O how deep, in afflicting times of the Church, may the plot and contrivance of the Devil be! which yet in the holy counsel of the Lord is oft forced to run a­gainst its own byass, & to bring forth the very contrary effect!—(3.) If we understand the Scripture, we may there know, how the trial of the Church hath its appointed bounds and measure; yea, by some remark­able steps will grow that length, and have such an advance, until it surround them on all hands, Lam. 2. 22. Thou hast called my terrors round about, as in a so­lemn day: Yet, when it is so, we find it is not with­out cause, but may be needful for the Church and [Page 200] particular Christians, to be in heaviness through mani­fold temptations. 1 Pet. 1. 6. And truly in such an unu­sual coincidence and variety of straits, the tendency thereof is oft seen to be for as manifold use and advan­tage, as the many afflicting ingredients in that trial have been remarkable.—(4) We may also see from the Scripture what an usual resemblance there is, be­twixt the publick lot of the Church in suffering times, and the private case of the saints: how under some sad trial and departure of the Lord from his people, his dispensations are many ways corrective and judicial, that do then reach them in all their personal interests; there is a backsliding time, and a day when judgment particularly points at the green tree, which useth not to be a comforting time, that then Satan is more ob­servably let loose to afflict, and few will miss some touch [...] his hand. Read Lam. 1. 2. where you find the sword abroad devouring, a time of publick judgment, and then it was at home also as death: and in the 16th V. under such sore afflicting strokes there is one further held forth, that was most imbittering of all to the godly in that time, that the comforter who should re­lieve their soul, was far off. It is clear, nothing does more endear a mercy and make it sweet, than the Lord's immediate appearance therein: and nothing do's more imbitter the rod, which put David to that cry, Psal. 39. Remove that stroke from me, I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.—(5) Upon a serious inquiry about this strange thing, may we not understand the meaning thereof by the Scripture, why in some trials the Lord does thus shew himself his people's party, and his hand more heavy on them than on others, that there is some provoking cause, whereat these providences clearly point? When the godly are pursuing their case and satis­faction under the rod, more than to answer its design; when they are ready to take mortification and a humble stooping undertrouble for aco [...]ching underneath their bur­den, [Page 201] it is not then strange tho' that sad Wo, Amos 6. 6. do so far reach them, as their personal ease makes them forget the affliction of Joseph. For thus the righteous God, sutes their stroke to the sin; and keeps such a proportion, that a light burden of the care of the Church should make their care otherways abound, and in their own things press them with much trouble, when these go betwixt them and the interest of Christ. There is a very unseen cause oft, why many of the saints may be sick and some fall asleep. Yea, this truth must be likewise verified, there is a saving of things, by which we put them in further hazard; and a securing thereof, by a surrender to the Lord: An immoderate fear of a stroke from men, to the prejudice of present and necessary duty, may bring with it some sad immediate strokes, in the displeasure of the Lord, from his hand; yea, that he should thus bereave his Church of many choicest instruments by his very im­mediate hand, to make it appear, the anger and jealousy of the most high God is more to be dreaded, than the wrath and violence of all our adversaries. But yet in the close of these judgments, even when a Church may seem quite consumed, and her strength worn out, have we not there some ground of hope, that the Lord may prevent his people's thoughts, by as marvellous, as immediate restoring providences when he sees their power is gone, and that there is none to help? yea, is it not easy with him, and like his way, to return and restore what the former years have taken away, by the locust and caterpiller, &c. which he had sent amongst them? Joel. 2. 25.

9. There is a step of the holy providence of God and his unspotted judgment, which would also seem strange and amazing, that which is inflicted upon the soul and conscience by an immediate stroke of judical induration, and is very evident, Oh how undeniably evident, and clear at this day! that men under great [Page 202] light, some special discoveries of God, after known convictions and wrestlings of conscience, yea, after solemn engagements and their declared resolution to follow the Lord in his way, have yet come such a length and degree in a deliberate resisting and oppo­sing themselves to him and his truth, without the least appearance of a check or trouble! I confess, this is one of the marvellous things of God, and a very visible demonstration of his being, who hath such a dominion over the soul, both in its hardning and softening: but no cause to stumble hereat. It does truly call us to fear, and is a stroke that may force on Atheists the awful conviction of a Deity; or though it is not felt by those who are under the same, because the want of sense and feeling is a part of that disease, yet all who look on (if they did not shut their own eyes) may learn to know that this is the very work of God, and a piece of his judgment which be makes known in the earth. But let us ask the Scripture, & we shall find, instead of any ground for stumbling, what a special confirma­tion this should be of the truth: since it is clear,—(1.) How in this the way of the Lord is holy and righteous, who is under no debt, no obligation to the sons of men, Rom. 9. 18. but is absolutely free, to let forth grace to, or withhold it from, whom he plea­seth. His blessed will being the alone rule of righte­ousness, he comprehends the reason of all his counsels and judgments, which are to us incomprehensible: yet do's he so far condescend, to let men see, his unspotted Justice, as well as his Sovereignty, in this shines forth, that they who are unjust by a deliberate choice, should be unjust still by a further arrest, Rev. 22. and those who will not hearken and will have none of him, should be delivered up to the lusts of their own heart. Ps. 81. 11. We see in what a measure Pharaoh was hard­ened of the Lord, which was a plague worse than the other ten: But [...] find Exo. 6. 34. that Pharaoh har­dened [Page 203] his own heart; and thus was a stroke suted to such a resolute resisting of light. (2.) Do's not the Scrip­ture shew the marvellous conveyance of this judgment Is. 6. 6. how this sad sentence is more immediately passed on the soul; yea, by those most singular means, the word&ordinances for enlivening, is it executed thereon; men preached deaf and dead, where others find life; this is a stroke, that does not draw a bar betwixt them and external fellowship with the ordinances, but O it draws an invisible bar betwixt them and the power and efficacy thereof. It is a judgment that walks in the dark, and binds where none can loose; it killeth without a cry; yea gives men a death-stroke when the pain of that wound is not felt. (3.) Do you not see how this strange judgment is in as great a height and measure held forth by the Scripture, as you see it in any example before your eyes, that men will be mad in their opposition to God, even when he is most remark­ably opposing them? such as Ahaz who did trespass the more, the more he was distressed, 2 Chron. 28. 22. Yea, such who with these men of Sodom would grope after the door, & persist in that wickedness when God hath immediately smitten them with blindness for the same. O what may be the next stroke, where men renew their assault against God, after he hath once and against smitten them; who, in stead of repent­ing under his sore plagues, turn enraged to blaspheme him, who hath power over the same! Is not that a strange degree of judicial induration, Act. 7. 57. that when they saw the face of Stephen shine, and looked stedfastly thereon, they did then run with fury against him! Yea, it may be seen in all ages, that such a length this judgment will come, to look on the most convin­cing extraordinary judgments of God on others, and yet not be moved therewith themselves; that when his hand is lifted up, they will not see: but the posterity take up the same quarrel, & pursue it wherein [Page 204] they have seen their fathers fall, under the stroke of an avenging God.—(4.) We may also know from the Scripture, how deep this judgment may draw in its dreadful effects: what a judical arrest is thus served on men, by which they are bound over to destruc­tion, and their bands made strong on them, as that they can neither stir nor move, but as malefactors shut up in jail, and under fetters; which is not more evident before the execution, than this arrest on their soul is by obduration before some further stroke. Thus they ly near sudden destruction, and a blow that is irrecoverable, who have harden'd themselves un­der frequent reproofs. (Prov. 29.) It is known, what Pharaoh's last rebuke was, after he had rejected many; it stands upon publick record to after-ages. I shall add, is there not something of hell here, and of those everlasting fetters, in some measure made visible in the earth? For where light and conviction do resolve into rage and malice against the truth, nothing can be more like hell, or have a more near resemblance to the devil.

10. I shall add one instance more, which may seem also strange, and a marvellous piece of the provi­dence of God, that the righteous should fall, and have one event with the wicked in a time of judg­ment; whilst we see some notorious for wickedness, and their horrid actings in opposition to the Church, go to the grave in peace, as to any remarkable stroke from the Lord upon them. I know, men are ready to wonder hereat; yea, thence an Atheist will infer, things must fall out at an adventure: But O if these would bring this to the Scripture, and set it in the light of the word! they should there see how convincingly it is verified, and that there is nothing here which do's not clearly agree with that blessed record. For it shews, (1.) That by no external providences, or any thing dispensed within time, yea, by no affliction obvious to sense, the way of the Lord and his respects [Page 205] to his people can be judged, even amidst the great variety of events, which here fall out: But we are in this obliged to adore God, whose judgments are in­comprehensible, when we see at the same time a just man perish in his righteousness, and a wicked man prolong his life in wickedness. Eccl. 7. 25.—(2.) The Scripture gives us this return also about such a providence, why the sword devours both, and as Saul and Jonathan fall together, that there the Lord does in a special way difference betwixt one and another. Josias died in peace, as was promised, 2 Kings 22. 20. yet he fell upon the high places of the field, in the common judg­ment: But he was then taken from the evil to come; yea, thus was delivered, even by a stroke of the hot displeasure of God, on others. It is not strange, that some may be hid in the grave from a further storm, by the same judgment wherein the Lord is pursuing the land, in which they have their abode.-(3.) It is clear from the Scripure, how small an accession to a sinful course may in the holy displeasure of God bring some of his people under the same stroke with his adver­saries, and so far involve them in that judgment. We find Ps. 1. 1. there is a standing in the way, and joining in the counsel of the ungodly, held forth as a partaking with them in their sin: and Ezek. 9. tells us, that not mourning for, and witnessing a dissent against the national sins of the time, puts men far out of that blessed roll of those whom the Lord does difference from others by a mark of his preservation.—Now as to that other, how it is the wicked prolong their days in wickedness, and may go in some exter­nal peace to the grave, do but enquire at the Scrip­ture; and it will shew, (1.) It was no less strange to the Prophet Jeremiah, Cap. 12. They prosper, and have taken root. Did it not amaze that blessed man, Ps. 73. that not only their eyes stand out with fatness, but they have no bands in their death!—But (2.) Is not way of [Page 206] the Lord in this manifest, how graciously he prevents some by a sad temporal stroke, and can serve himself, of a scaffold or gibbet to bring about their mercy; as he did to the thief on the cross, whilst he plagues others by a long forbearance, and his holding off such strokes, Eccel. 8. 11. the dreadful effects whereof are held forth, because sentence is not speedily exe­cuted against wicked men, their heart is therefore set on mischief.—(3.) As in every age we are cal­led to adore the Severeignty of God in such a thing, he gives men also cause to observe his great judgments, some remarkable strokes on his adversaries; which they cannot pass without such a remark, Behold a man that made not God his strength! Ps. 52. ver. 7. But we must further wait for that full discrimination, which the last sentence of the judge shall put betwixt those who fear the Lord and those who fear him not. (¶)

THE THIRD ARGUMENT

FOr the Scriptures accomplishment is this; that which not only the Christian's experience, and observation of the Church, bear witness to, but is also a truth which even to the view and conviction of the World, may be demonstrated from whom it doth oft force a testimony, yea, in every age the worst of men have been forced to acknowledge; it must be a thing every evident. But the accomplishment of the Scrip­ture can be thus witnessed; therefore, &c.

It is true, those sweet and sensible enjoyments, which the Saints have of this truth, the World cannot reach; but it is also sure, that in every age, the works of the Lord, and some more remarkable convincing providences, both of judgment and mercy, do solemnly invite men to observe the accomplishment of the word therein; yea, no time hath wanted something [Page 207] of a publick witness from ungodly men, even greatest mockers of Religion, who under that constraining power of conscience at death, or in some day of their strait, have been forced to seal the truth, by a very open confession of the righteousness of God to­wards them. And this is indeed the Lord's blessed design, in making his works sometime so conspicuous, that they may not only confirm the faith of his people, but render Atheism inexcusable; that the glory of his faithfulness, as well as of his power, and wisdom, may shine forth before the sons of men. I confess, we may wonder why the World looketh so little upon this; and how the conviction of so great a truth, which they cannot shun, doth not more press them: but the Holy Ghost, doth fully resolve this, The brutish man knoweth not, neither do fools lay to heart, how the Scripture taketh place, that flourish­ing of wicked men is but in judgment for their further ruin.

To prosecute this argument a little, there are some special truths I would instance, wherein the faithful­ness of God in fulfilling his word may be seen by the World; yea, is obvious to the most ordinary observers. And though they be but a few, which I shall here touch, yet I may say, they are such concerning truths, and have so near a reference to the foundation of our faith, that men cannot acknowledge the same, but must also confess the Scripture's Divinity, and that there is a truth and reality in godliness and in Chris­tian Religion. I may truly here with some con­fidence challenge the greatest Atheists yea, appeal to their conscience and serious thoughts, if in these fol­lowing instances (though but a little of what might be said on such a subject) the truth and accom­plishment of the Scripture be not very manifest.

[Page 208] FIRST. I shall first hold forth this truth, that man is surely fallen from that excellent estate wherein once he was formed, (Rom. 5. 18, 19.) and now is not that which he was at the beginning. A truth so clear that we may say, even without the discovery of the word, might be easy for any serious observer to dis­cern the same; yea, had not even heathens some glance at this? The evidence whereof they could not alto­gether shun.

It is true, the cause & original of this dreadful con­tagion; how sin entered into the World; how it is de­rived to the whole race of man, by imputation, as well as inhesion; how that poison is carried from the fountain to the cistern; this the Scripture doth only discover: but this, I am sure, may be obvious to all, that poor man is thus sick & diseased, & now beareth the marks of such a fall and ruin, as we read of in the word. I confess, it is strange, that when this is so very [...]vincingly manifest, it should not force men to [...] serious enquiry, whence such a thing is, or whether there can be a recovery of so sad & desperate like case. But to clear this a little, I would offer these three things to be considered.

1. That there is some remainder of that excellent fabrick, which may yet appear among its ruins! some print and appearance (though dark) of that primitive lustre and beauty; some draughts, which sin hath not wholly worn out; that may clearly tell what man once was, and point out his former excel­lency, that he hath been an other creature, of whom Absalom's character might be truly said, without all blemish from the head to the foot. For we see the deep impressions of a Deity still rooted in men, even among the most wild and savage, which no inven­tion can utterly raze; we see some common princi­ples of reason, that are imprinted in the most rude and [Page 209] ignorant; some innate notions and Ideas, which the soul hath of good and evil, among all, and in every place of the earth; likewise those natural truths KOINAI ENNOIAI, which we may see are no ways imprest on the soul from any objects of sense, but such whereto men by an unavoidable necessity are forc­ed to assent: and besides, what meaneth the witness of the conscience, and authority thereof in every man, which they cannot possibly decline? O do not these witness, that from some great height poor man hath fallen.

2. Doth not the present appearance of man's na­ture clearly shew, that he is fallen into some dreadful disease; that it is surely overspread with some horrid leprosy and contagion, the symptoms whereof now are most discernable? O what an exorbitancy doth appear in his desires? with what contrary tides is he hurried? still at jar with his present lot! his reason and will, once in a sweet league, are now at war, betwixt which he is oft rent in pieces, as one betwixt wild horses. How is he now restless in an unreasonable pursuit? he laboureth in the fire, and for a shadow: yea, what do these tumults and com­motions of the earth mean? men upon the smallest account sheathing their swords in others bowels, homo homini lupus; ruptures in families; unsatiable in revenge, and the earth so oft in an uproar as a rag­ing sea. O do not these too visibly witness, what a dreadful disorder and perturbation there must be within, impetuous boyling of man's lusts! so that here we may see a very manifest rupture and breach of a building, once well knit and framed.

3. I would ask, wherein man's true advantage and excellency, above others of the creatures, can be seen, if not with some respect to what he once was, and that blessed restoration by grace: For his Knowledge doth oft serve but to increase his sorrow; to shew [Page 210] the good he wanteth, and the evil he is subject to. Is there any of the creatures subject to such outward mi­sery & pain! to so many diseases! yea, as to a sensual life, may we not say, the beasts have even some pre­ference! Or are these so unruly? do they so much go out of their bounds and station? which the many laws made for man in the world, with the convincing necessity thereof, can witness. We see also that sore travel is appointed to man; at how much toil he is for an outward subsistance; how he doth oft sow and not reap; the beasts withdraw from the yoke; those over whom he had dominion, ready to assault him; how women bring forth their children in sorrow; the men are attended with fear, their life oft made bitter with care and labour; yea, as men increase in the world, their care & discontent increasing there­with! But besides all, is he not in the greatest slavery, of all the creatures, through the violence of his lusts? that make him pursue the bait, though he knoweth it will undo him; while his corruption doth oft like a strong man bind him in fetters, and his flesh impe­riously drag him at its heels! O may we not say, was poor man thus framed at the beginning? or raised so far above the rest of the creatures, only to make him the more miserable! For truly if a lively portraicture could be drawn of sinful depraved nature, there is none so gross but should abhor, yea, be affrighted, to see that in the third person, with which (alas) they are so friendly to in themselves.

SECOND. That so great a change is truly wrought upon men in Conversion, (as the Scripture doth promise and hold forth, Joh. 3. 3, 6. Eph. 2. 1, 5. Coloss. 3. 1, 2.) wherein something above nature, even the marvellous power of the grace of God, may be seen; is a truth I am sure, known, and undeniable to the world: yea, the greatest mockers at religion [Page 211] must confess, can be no delusion, but is indeed real and certain; upon these following grounds.

(1.) That the most gross, who in their practice have been openly profane, in the place wherein they lived, it hath been seen how grace hath reached them: and thus the Leopard hath been made to change his spots, and such who were accustomed to do evil, have learned to do well. O! Do not many famous instances witness this, in every age?—(2.) That also men most principled in their judgment against the way of God, who were wont to deride holiness as a fan­cy, even on such, so great a change hath been wrought as hath made the world to wonder: but then they were forced to lay down their prejudice, yea, to won­der at themselves, how they could stand before the truth so long, whereof they have got such an impres­sion. Sure, Atheists must grant there have been as profest Atheists as themselves, who have been made eminent examples of grace.—(3.) That such even in the height of their wickedness (like Saul breathing out cruelty, and of late Vergerius while he was writ­ing against the truth) grace hath sometimes reached them. It hath been found, that of Christ's greatest ene­mies some have thus fallen, upon their high places, before the power of the word; some such trophies of the gospel's conquest have been conspicuous in eve­ry age: yea, it is oft seen that some remarkable height in sin hath proved an evident Crisis, and turn in men's condition, either to judgment, or mercy.—(4.) That some of the most eminent adversaries of the truth have, through grace, been made eminently use­ful instruments in the Church, the world cannot deny; that there have not been choiser vessels of ho­nour, more zealous for the Lord in their time, than such, who were once most violent in their opposition.—(5.) That such whom the world did reckon most wise and discerning, yea, that did want no judgment to [Page 212] know the value of outward things, as well as others, grace hath reached. Can the Atheists object, Do any of the rulers, or Rabbies believe in Christ, or follow that way! when it is so clear, that not more wise, lear­ned, and judicious (even themselves being judges) have been in their time, then some who are most seri­ous in the matter of Religion.—(6.) Hath not this change been made discernable upon the simple, the most stupid, and dull, yea, upon some such as their natural incapacity might have obstructed the work, if something above nature had not carried it on! which may be also manifest by some change even on their understanding, to shew that this can make wise the simple, and in the way of holiness, the way-far­ing man, though a fool, shall not err.—(7.) That by a very improbable mean, the word, and that some­times by weakest instruments, we see this great change hath been wrought: and it is remarkable, how little of the work of conversion did follow the putting forth of miracles in the primitive times, but by the simplicity of the preached gospel much more. For indeed the conversion of a [...]oul, and such a change is it self some way a miracle.—(8.) That they are not a few, on whom this change hath been wrought, is un­deniable: and truly, besides these ordinary proofs, I think, it is a great defect there should not be some more special record by the Church, of these illustrious and eminent instances of the grace of God, which have been in such an age, as well as remarkable in­stances of judgment. (9.) Men must see this fall­eth not out at an adventure, which is wrought upon one, and not another, whilst both are alike dis­cerning; yea, some who seem furthest from the grace of God, very gross and rude, have been taken, when the more civil and refined, and of a more pro­mising natural disposition, have been past by. O doth not this witness the grace of God, and sovereignty [Page 213] thereof! (10.) Is not this change oft discernable upon men in a time while no advantage from without doth appear? even times of presecution and hazard, from which many have dated their first acquaintance with God; when they could expect nothing but a suffering lot. Sure there must be something above nature in it. (11.) It is also known how great a cloud of witnesses have sealed this truth. O! can there be such an univer­sal enchantment, that in every age, in several, yea, in most remote places of the earth, hath fallen upon so many, who have witnessed the power of the Gospel? or can all these be void of understanding? What gain or outward advantage could they design in that which is so usually attended with outward hazard and loss! or what credit from men, while it maketh them the very butt of the world's hatred and reproach? Yea, can it be thought that all these could have combined to conspire into so great a cheat? I must appeal Athe­ists to their serious thoughts of this matter.—(12.) The marvellous effect of this change, doth it not witness that this is no fancy or delusion; when men are reached with such a stroke, and by one word, as hath made the stout-hearted and most daring to trem­ble, and to shew by their very countenance, that there is another tribunal than man's, before which they are arraigned? Must it not be sad earnest, and a marvel­lous power, that can make so willing a divorce be­twixt men, and their idols, which were once as their right eye to them; and beat them off that ground of self-righteousness, which they had been so long establishing to themselves; that should cause them also chuse the reproach of Christ, and his cross, before any outward advantage, and abandon that society, without which sometimes they could not live? Must not this speak forth something above natural reason! O! may not the world oft wonder what is become of their old friends! though I confess, this should [Page 214] rather put them, with wonder and astonishment, to some serious inquiry whence so great a change can be!

(¶) It is strange, the World, does not more wonder at Conversion, which is so great a miracle, yea it may be said, one of the greatest hath been in the earth; since it is no less marvellous, than to raise out of the grave such who are truly dead. O how convincingly demonstrative is this, of the truth and reality of grace; yea, even to the view of the World, do's witness an irresistible efficacious power with the word, that con­verteth the soul, enlightens the eye, and maketh wise the simple, Psal. 19. 7. Should we not with astonish­ment look on a Christian, if we did seriously con­sider what a change the grace of God makes here, from that he once was, and how great a change glory will ere long make from that he now is! I know, there are many things we wonder at from our igno­rance. But oh! it is men's ignorance and estrange­ment from this, makes it so little their wonder. For, if we be assuredly perswaded of the truth of Conver­sion, which the World cannot deny without a con­tradiction both to sense and reason, we have then three great truths unanswerably demonstrated. 1. That the Scripture of God is faithful and true, which holds this forth. 2. That there is a divine Spirit, and a power above nature, that do's certainly accompany the same. 3. It is then clear, there are two contrary states in another World, since they are here so mani­fest. Now, besides these evidences already mentioned, I would here offer some further upon so grave, and weighty a subject, to shew how very clear and convincing the demonstration of this truth is, that the World cannot but see the very immediate power of God, and something above nature in Conversion, if they do not shut their eyes thereat. Consider but these,—

[Page 215] (1.)Is it not a strange and marvellous thing, that could change one species of a creature into another, turn a wolf or tyger into a lamb, sure this would be astonishing; yet such a change is here, which makes so vast a difference betwixt one and himself, takes him off his former delights and exercises, his old friends and society, with whom he once thought the time short, yea, makes the man who was a persecutor of the truth, and took Pleasure therein, now rejoice to suffer persecution on that same account! I think, the World will not debate, where so many known instances are at all times obvious. (2.) Is it not marvellous, which can estrange men from their worldly interests, and take their heart off that which was as their right eye, and subdue under them that which once took them captive at its pleasure? O does it not shew, they have got their eyes opened to see things, which were formerly hid! Yea, how strange is it that those whose praedominant Sin was love to the World, and have been in their natural disposition most narrow and griping, that they could not allow themselves the comfortable use of that they had, even these this change hath so powerfully reached, as to cause a willing surrender and quitting of all for Christ! I could offer known instances of this; and those at as great an advantage then, in the exercise of their judgment and reason, as ever, whom the World might see were most serious and composed therein. (3.) Would you debate the ef­ficacious power of that which should melt and dissolve the hardest stone? and may you not wonder what a power this must be, which will make men melt and dissolve in tears, and stand trembling before the word, who through their life were known to be most ob­durate and stupid? Yea, is not this great change sometimes with such terror and downcasting ushered in, that may convince observers, it is a matter of greatest earnest, and no counterfeit? and surely [Page 216] these must be reached by some power, before which there is no standing.—(4.) How great a thing is that which takes men unawares, beyond their thoughts and intention? Mathew, and those other disciples, did not know in the morning what should befal them be­fore night: it was indeed a happy day, when on their return they had that account to give, We have found the Messias! and it is sure, many since have been thus surprised; yea, in one hour have got such a sight, which will never go from their heart; they now see what report could never have made them believed; they now know what it is to be taken out of a dreadful gulf of darkness into a marvellous light! And truly there is this usually discernable in it, how some one word will force its passage, and take fire within, as a word beyond all others fitly spoken, and fitted by di­vine appointment to open the heart.—(5.) It is a mar­vellous change, which do's even reach young ones, and these sometimes of an age little above infancy. For it is certainly known, how such whose years might shew there was no design to cheat the world, yea, sometimes in a family where little advantage for their education hath appeared, have given evidence of this wonderfully, above themselves and their age; yea, at death have witnessed some power of the grace of God, and his Spirit on their soul, their hope and the grounds of it, with such judgment and se­riousness, as hath forced on by-standers this discovery of an immediate teaching of the Spirit, and of a mighty power of God, that can witness in these, ere they can well speak or exercise reason, the power of Religion. O whence should this be! and truly for the truth thereof I could offer known instances, if it should be brought on debate.—(6.) What a change is it that do's also reach men in their old age, who have been long rooted & inured to the world, who have sat out many a call, in their resisting the Gospel; yet is it not [Page 217] seen, how these in their gray hairs have been made to weep and confess, after sixty or seventy years li­ving under the Gospel, that then only they begun to know what it is to be Christians. I confess, this is one of the rare trophies of the grace of God; yet no age wants some such instances, to prove, how far grace can prevail over nature, custom, education, and all those disadvantages, which use to attend the time of old age.—(7.) What a strange power is it, which hath been so evidently witnessed on some horridly fla­gitious, who have outrun others in all manner of wickedness; yea, even then whilst justice was crying for punishment to cut them off, grace hath stept in to save, and reached them at a scaffold or gibbet! It is sure, the world cannot question this truth: and O should it not be convincing, to see two brought to a publick death for some gross crime, who have the same hazard before them, and the same means made use of for their conviction; yet the one melting in contrition, & the other most hardned! You cannot say, that this is from a different nature and con­stitution, since sometimes those of a more promi­sing nature, and better disposition, have been seen fur­ther off, than such of whom least was expected.—(8.) Is it not a strange change, which even on those where no ordinary means could be subservient, can be witnessed? where no company, no example, no usual way for instruction, can be alledged; so that it may be seen, they have been truly taught of the Lord; that there is such a thing as his immediate tea­ching; that in a very extraordinary way, by means most improbable, he can convey himself into the soul. In a word, this can be no result of one's na­tural complexion; for then it would appear in, and accompany, their younger years in some measure, and grow up with them. This change also, in those of most different natures, most unlike and cross to others hu­mour [Page 218] and disposition, is made discernable. Yea, must it not be something above moral swasion, or any per­swasives of humane eloquence, since here the foo­lishness of preaching is found more effectual, than any such way? Yea, it is seen how the most sublime and polish'd strains of oratory, and greatest gifts, have oft come short of that success, which hath followed more improbable means. I shall add, O is not this something above nature, which makes men partake of the divine nature, and do's so visibly impress the image of God on them!

I shall shut this up with three remarkable Instances of the power and efficacy of grace in Conversion; of which in every age there may be a large record. First, that excellent man JUNIUS; whose life we have in some measure set down by himself, with many notable remarks of providence, and therein shewing the Lord's ingaging him at first; how being very loose, and carried away with evil company, yea, tempted to Atheism, he was one day moved to go and read the Scripture; and at the first opening, accosted with that of the first of John; which whilst he read (as he says) did suddenly astonish him, and leave a marvellous conviction on his soul, of the divinity of the subject, the Majesty and Authority of the writing; so that all day he knew not where, and what he was: but thus turns himself with these words to the Lord, Thou wast mindful of me, O my God, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies! Yea, gives this account, that he then had a sight of the Scripture, which made him see it did exceed all humane elo­quence; and this was followed with such power, that his body trembled, and his mind became astonished, with such a surprising and marvellous light: and from that day he begun to be serious in the way of the Lord.

[Page 219] A second instance I shall offer is, the remarkable Conversion of worthy Master BOLTON, a choice Minister in the Church of England; in whose life this is re­corded, that being eminently prophane, a horrid swearer, and much accustomed to mock at holiness, and these who most shined therein, and particularly that excellent Man of God Mr. Perkins, then Prea­cher in Cambridge, whom he much undervalued for his plainness in preaching the truths of God; yea, was near the length of Popery: but on the Lord's gracious appearance to him, was put to have other thoughts, with a very remarkable change upon him, though with that terrour, that (as he said himself) the Lord seemed to run upon him, like a giant, throwing him to the ground, and with such a terrifying disco­very of sin, as caused him to roar in anguish, and oft rise in the [...]ight on that account, which continued for diverse months; Yea, these assaults in the pangs of the new birth were such, that it might have been said, Ut nec color, nec sensus, nec sanguis superesset. But at last a blessed sun-shine brake out, and he after to his old age proved a burning and shining light.—Now besides these two great men, I think it not unsutable, (since it is to commend the grace of God and witness the reality thereof, who of all kind of sinners, as well as of all kindreds and nations, hath brought some to glory) that I set down one very strange instance in this country, of a poor Buggerer, who not many years ago was put to death in the town of Air, for that horrid wickedness. He had been a most stupid & brutish person; such an one who looked, to all who knew him, as if he had been above the reach of ordi­nary means: but in the prison, the Lord did mar­vellously witness the power of his grace, and in such a measure discovered to him his sinfulness, that af­ter much serious exercise upon his soul, and fore wrestling, a most kindly word of repentance did ap­pear [Page 220] with great assurance; so that when he came to the stake, he could not cease from crying out to the people, under the sense of pardon, and that comfor­ting sunshine of the presence of God; O he is a great forgiver! He is a great forgiver! and had therewith these words; Now hath perfect love cast out all fear: I know, God hath nothing to lay against me, for Jesus Christ hath paid all, and those are free whom the son makes free! Thus, in a transport of wonder and joy, did he die; the marvellous grace of God raising him then above other men, who not long before seemed, in some respect, below a beast. (¶)

THIRD. That the communion and fellowship with God, whereto the Saints are in this life admitted, and brought near to him in the spirit, is a most real thing, and no delusion; is a truth which may be very con­vincingly demonstrated, even to the view of the World, and to such who are but Spectators of the same. 1 Joh. 1. 3. Phil. 3. 20. I know, this is a truth that must be spiritually discerned, and therefore the world cannot know it, or reach that unspeakable joy and delight, which is found by the Saints in that sweet path: yet I must say, there are some things, and some such convincing evidences, as may witness to men, and rationally demonstrate the same; the conviction whereof they cannot possibly shun, if they but come near, and in their serious thoughts consider,—

1. How great and excellent a company do bear this testimony, even as many as in every time did ever serve God in the Spirit. Is not this transmitted by the father to the children, as their experience? And as certainly tried by succeeding ages; a truth which is not once, or twice proved in the Christian's life! For the proofs thereof are innumerable, and past recko­ning, [Page 221] which they have had; yea, amongst all the Saints since the days of Abel, to this present time, there was never one contradictory witness could be produced.

2. Are not those, who do thus testify what they have oft found in secret retirements to God, such whose testimony, in any other matter, the worst of men could not refuse, or deny to be famous? I am sure, the World is convinced, that the followers of Christ dare not, yea, use not to deal falsly in other things with those they have to do with, however their malice carry them to reproach them; yea, that they are more to be credited, than such, who make a scorn of Religion.

3. Have they not had as great interest, and share of the World as others, and been of as discerning spirits to know the true value of things, who from their experience do not only declare, there is an un­doubted reality in converse with God; but that the joy and delight herein, which they have found, is above all the pleasures of the flesh? O! what must that be, which could make such, who wanted no out­word allurements, who had not lost their taste, and were flesh and blood as well as others, to turn their back on all for Christ, and by their walk testify they have found some more satisfying enjoyment in fellow­ship with God?

4. Must not this be very obvious, and convincing, that when men once become serious in the way of God, they have got some new acquaintance? that sure there is another world, and some other society, than that of men, with which they have intercourse. Whence are these frequent retirements, from which they have been seen so oft to come forth with greatest satisfac­tion, and with some remarkable change in their case? Doth it not thus appear, They are not alone, when they are alone; yea, in such a solitude must find something very desireable?

[Page 222] 5. Is not this also testifyed, in times when men could not well dissemble, or be suspected of deceit? in times of great outward affliction; when the World also hath been most tempting them with its offers; yea at death, when they are stepping over that threshold; a time, wherein the words of dying men are of great­est weight and credit, the spirits of such being then more unbyassed, and free of those ordinary temptations wherewith others are swayed! How oft have they at such times declared, that surely God is fa­miliar with men, which they have found, and though they were going to change their place, yet were not to change their company!

6. Can that be a delusion, which is so sensible at the time present? When the Saints are not more sure that they live, than they are sure of this truth, what near approaches and refreshing views they have got while God hath come near to their soul, what a dis­cernable elevation of their spirits doth go along with this? Yea, on the other hand, as the withdrawing hereof is very sensible to themselves, is there not something of this even obvious to those about them, how great a change and difference this will make in their case, from other times, which they cannot get hid?

7. Doth not something of this truth appear on the very countenance and outward carriage of Christians? what a lustre, and resemblance of Heaven, a holy stay­edness and composure of spirit, when they have been brought near God, in secret converse with him, and taken up to the mountain! In a word, doth not the walk of a serious mortified Christian convincingly witness this? yea, it cannot but be some way astonishing to the World, what should make them look so well, and with such satisfaction, when no visible cause for it, when shut up in prison from converse with friends, and acquaintance? Sure, men will not think a rational [Page 223] spirit so demented as to quit their former pleasures, and chuse the cross, that they may only deceive the World with a counterfeit joy and satisfaction, if they did not really find the same. And while it is too too evident, what a dreadful society and commerce many have with the Devil, should any question or debate; whether the Saints have truly communion and fellow­ship with God, the Father of Spirits, whom they serve and worship.

FOURTH. That the righteous is more excellent than his neighbour, Prov. 12. 26. And hath ano­ther spirit, which is greater and more choice, than that which is in the World, is a truth, which, I am sure, men (notwithstanding all their prejudice) must needs confess; and that therein the Scripture is truly verified, when such clear and convincing evidences do stare them in the face. I confess, the Saints are much under a dark cloud here, thro' the prevalence of corruption; yea, are oft accounted as the filth of the world: but when grace in any greater measure, and in vigorous exercise, doth shew it self, then there appeareth so much as will darken all [...] gran­dour of this earth, and force men to see an excellency upon the saints, beyond any others. They cannot al­together shun such a conviction,—1. What an evi­dent difference is betwixt their way, who walk with God, and that of the most polished moralist. Some­thing is in the one, which doth witness a more excel­lent spirit, a higher elevation, a sweet harmony, and equability in their way, that they move in some higher sphere, act from other principles, with a re­spect to some greater interest than any thing here, have more of a large heart to serve their generation, than these whose self interest is seen to be the first and last in all their motions.

[Page 224] 2. May it not also appear to observers that tender serious Christians who live near God, do truly wit­ness their resemblance and likeness to him; to whom they move, as to their great and last end? yea, do evidence a more true excellency of spirit, what a sweet calm and serenity they have within, while going through things that are most cross and vexing; with what discernable quietness these can look upon most affrighting revolutions in the world, as such whose treasure and great interest is beyond hazard, though the earth were all turned to ashes.

3. Is there not so much in the way and carriage of the saints, yea, such a majesty and authority, that attendeth holiness, and doth force respect and fear, even from those who most hate them; yea, and doth force men to justify such in their conscience, whom they openly reproach, and persecute; Whence it is, that a serious tender Christian is oft a scare crow and terror to the prophane, when there is no outward cause for it, but that they are struck with the con­viction of a more excellent spirit in these, carrying such a resemblance to the image of God, as forceth fear and subjection from that spirit which is in the world.

4. Doth not a Christian and holy walk cause men to shine as a light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation? Yea, darken all their neighbours? And in the darkest night, is it not seen how grace shineth with the greatest lustre? what a sweet and odorife­rous scent doth this send through the country, where they live; that may shew to all, how great a differ­ence there is betwixt such, and those who are wallow­ing in this puddle of the earth!

5. Is it not obvious, what a lustre and beauty, yea, something more becoming our immortal soul, that is in the self-denial of Christians, their bearing injuries, forgiving such as injure them, without re­viling, [Page 225] than in that proud vindictive spirit that is in the world; that sure such walk by a more excellent rule, and move from a higher principle!

6. It may be also evident to the world, what an other spirit is in those who do not run with the current of every time, nor yeild to men because of their outward power, than in that spirit which is in the world? that while the one doth press men to save themselves on any terms, the other doth cause the Christian to take up his cross, yea, lay down his life, to save his conscience! And whence is that patience, and resolution, by which the godly in times of suffer­ing have overcome their persecutors; their bold avowing of the truth before men, when hazards are most obvious; and that advantage, wherewith they ap­pear above others, in such a time? O! doth it not clearly witness, they are of another mettal, who do thus abide the fire; yea, become more bright by that wherewith others are consumed?

I would add, that which the world cannot deny, how this spirit, which is in the Saints, hath pre­vailed over the greatest entisements of carnal gain and pleasure, which to many may seem a wonder: as the Popish party did once say of Luther, Bestia haec non curat aurum. That which they did speak in con­tempt, that it did prove him a beast, did in effect shew him therein to be something above men; for that is a thing before which the spirit of the world. could never stand.

FIFTH. That the promised encouragement, which is held forth to the People of God under trouble and suf­fering for his name, is a truth, and the Scripture herein verified, I am sure, not only Christian experience can witness; but may even to the observation of others, be demonstrated from very convincing grounds, that it is no fancy or delusion. Ps. 9. 9. Is. 51. 12.

[Page 226] 1. The very countenance and outward appearance of the godly, in a suffering time, doth oft declare the peace and tranquillity of their soul, so as surely they must have joy and satisfaction from whence the world doth not know, and have some other cor­respondence, than with things visible. For it may be oft said, as of Daniel, and his fellows, that under greatest pressures and a very mean condition they look as well, yea, with as much chearfulness, as those who live on the Kings allowance.

2. It can be no counterfeit, which should thus reconcile the christian with a suffering lot. For it is known how very searching affliction and trouble pro­veth; which oft doth broach the vessel, and bring forth what hath formerly most closely lurked. And O! Doth not that holy confidence and freedom, which the Saints have evidenced in confessing the truth, before the princes of this world and their most cruel adversaries, yea, that chearfulness which in most extream articles of suffering they oft do witness, even when they are resisting to the blood; doth not this speak forth something be­yond the gallantry of a natural spirit, that far exceed­eth the ordinary way of men, and is a thing the world cannot but wonder, and whither they will, or will not, see God's very immediate help, and hand in the same, according to his word?

3. Is it not seen, how the chearful way of the Godly under suffering, while there is no outward ground for the same, doth not only astonish, but is an exceed­ing torment to adversaries? when they are forced to see, how all their endeavours (when their wrath and malice hath been to the utmost put forth) have yet been in vain, either to turn them aside, or to ruin their encouragement; but that the most sharp sufferings of the Godly do still give them the forest dash, help to strengthen others, justify God's way, and that tender [Page 227] respect he hath to his suffering people, even before all observers!

4. Is it not also manifest, that such whose natural disposition was known to be very fainting and timo­rous, yet when called to suffer for the truth, have with out the least appearance of discouragement, showed an invincible resolution, and not only their own fears, but the expectations of others have a marvel­lous disappointment! O is there not there a visible ful­filling of the Scripture, that shaking reeds should be made to stand, were strongest cedars have bow­ed; yea, some of very mean and ordinary parts have been so discernably raised above themselves, as they were made to confound the wise and learned!

5. Must it not be confessed, that the zeal and reso­lution of the saints did never more appear than in times of greatest opposition? that at no time they have looked more, like Christians with more advantage, and with some peculiar beauty and lustre of the grace of God, than under suffering! a thing, which as it eminently doth commend the gospel, hath also so far convinced their enemies, as in some measure it hath blunted their edge, and taken off their prejudice a­gainst the way of God, and followers thereof.

6. I may appeal the greatest Atheists to their cons­cience, if any moral arguments, (whatever influence they may have upon men's patient enduring (could ever produce such effects, as rejoycing in tribulation, the choosing affliction before sin and all its pleasures; making men to triumph over persecutors, and to go with such a calm and chearfulness to a scaffold, to sing amidst a dark prison, yea, and to abound, and have all things, under greatest want? O! whence is this! Sure, something above nature must be here, that is stronger than moral reasons, by which the Saints have thus over­come the world! Yea, is it not obvious to all who look on, how great a difference there is betwixt the [Page 228] pretended resolution of a natural spirit in death & suf­fering, and that joy and confidence of a Christian, which hath then shewed the composure and tranquili­ty of his soul within? The one being but a dark sha­dow, and the other drawn to the life.

SIXTH. That there is a Conscience within men, whose power both as a judge, and witness, doth answer that clear discovery, the Scripture giveth thereof, Rom. 2. 9. is a thing obvious even to the world, which they must needs confess, both from it's visible effect on others, and the working thereof within themselves. That herein the word is verified, these things make it clear and undeniable,—

1. That sure there is something within, which thus maketh men afraid to be alone with themselves, yea, will cause them to go abroad, and frame diversi­ons, to be out of its noise: must it not be sad earnest, which hath so dreadful a sound in their ear, doth haunt the wicked man whither he will, or not? wherewith he would gladly be at peace; but amidst his greatest mirth and prosperity this doth mingle his vine with gall and wormwood.

2. Is it not also sure, that men have oft an accuser within their breast (while they seem to brave it out before others) whose judgment and sentence they can by no means decline; but after the committing of sin, yea, on the back of their sinful pleasures, doth follow the same with a bitter sting, and ring this dreadful peal in their ear, that in the end their way will be bitterness! O! is not this an accusing con­science, which doth begin the torment of some be­fore the time?

3. What is it that should make men's guilt so legi­ble oft in their countenance, even when they study most to conceal it, and thus cause them to give their tongue the lye; yea, bewray to bystanders, whether [Page 229] they will or not, some secret trouble, and sore they have within? Doth it not clearly shew the power of conscience, which hath such authority on men, that without violence or constraint from others, doth even force them to confess the truth, and supply the room of witnesses;

4. Whence is it, that some are so much disquieted for secret sins, which the eyes of others could not reach, yea, that as to some gross sins, even the most profligate amongst men, have an horror at them, without respect to outward hazard? Doth it not shew the power of natural conscience, that holdeth forth a greater party, than the world with which they have to do, to whom [...] are manifest, and some greater witness than that of man?

5. How is it that even greatest men, whom the world could not reach, and in he midst of all pro­bable advantages, have yet often most affrighting thoughts, much terror, and disquieting reflections? Must it not be something within, which doth cause them to fear, an other power than that of the world, and a judgment greater than of men?

6. What must it be which doth force men to justify God, when his hand doth pursue them, and maketh them so easily find out sin in a time of their strait? Why is the sense of guilt so very affrighting at death? Is it not the conscience, which doth presage a future judgment, and extend its power to matters of an ever­lasting concernment and duration?

7. What should make men tremble at the word, and so much hate a searching ministry! Is it not be­cause the light doth torment them? That though the word doth particularly name none, yet there is some­thing within, which maketh application of the truth, and doth plainly say, Thou art the man!

8. How do the worst of men oft justify those in secret, whom they openly have condemned: that [Page 230] while they are even persecuting the saints for truth, and holiness, yet for these they give them and their way a favourable testimony, notwithstanding all their prejudices? Yea, what is it that doth cause a se­cret fear and awful regard of such whom they hate?—Doth it not shew something within, whose judg­ment they are not able to resist?

9. I must further ask, whence is that horror, and those dreadful cries and groans, which wicked men oft have in their sickness, even such who were wont to sport at sin, with a daring countenance? Can the world get this past without some remark, how intolerable a thing an evil Conscience is, when once let loose? when in all ages such terrifying examples of this kind have been set up, for all that past by to look on, such as Spira, Latomus. Olivarius, &c. And truly I think, it is a great Defect, that there should not be a more particular record of such, which would give Atheism so great a dash; yea, force men to confess the truth of a Deity, and of the written word.

(¶) This is a great truth, & a great demonstration of God (blessed for ever!) his being, and of the truth of his word, that there is a Conscience: so strange a power, which every man hath within him and over him, that forceth the soul to a reflection on it self, even when it trembles at that sight, and with an aw­ful sound tells the Atheist, there is a God, when he seems to have no fear or conviction thereof! This is that great tormentor and troubler of the world, from which there is no retreat, though one should flee to the uttermost parts of the earth: this keeps a high court of justice under the authority of the great Judge, and there without respect of persons does summons great and small, does arrest, bring in witness, & passes sentence, yea, in some measure puts that in execution, [Page 231] and can make hell begin there, by an unexpressible anguish and horror. It is strange, that such a thing, when it is so undeniable, does not stare the world in the face with more amazement. But I shall further offer some few evidences of this truth, besides those already mentioned.

(1.) Could there be such a Power in man to differ­ence betwixt that good and evil which is within him, if there were not also some higher power a­bove him, who hath thus formed him, with such principles? Yea, could there be a judging and wit­nessing within a man, if there were not a law & rule over him? For it is sure, the conscience in all its actings hath respect to a higher judgment, and to a law, which even nature's light, though very dim, holds forth, but is express and clear in the Scripture which is that great rule of the Conscience.—(2.) Is it not very strange, to see such a power within a man, and yet against him; that the grossest Atheist is an enemy to it, yet cannot be without it, or get it shaken off; and whilst it is known how strong a byass and incli­nation these have to evil, more than good, they are yet forced to justify the one, more than the other! The drunkard cannot drown this conviction, nor the worldling bury it in the earth, where his treasure lies.—(3.) Though men may come some length to divert the conscience, and silence it, that it cannot ex­ercise its function, without some special divine excita­tion; yet is it not manifest, how then when once it is awaked, there is no possible withstanding! Then the stout-hearted cannot keep his ground, to debate with it; yea, when they run, it follows with as swift a pace; no skill, no arguments can defend from its force; there is no violence against such a power, but whilst in the practice of sin they overreach the witness of men, lo! this is continually at hand to tell them, that He who is greater than the conscience, [Page 232] do's regard.—(4.) Can any thing be more real and certain, than these effects of the conscience, I mean that trouble and fear men have in sinning, and that peace and satisfaction that attends well-doing; Do you know such a place of the earth, whither this power hath not some access to over-aw men, even without any visible aw or hazard? And can all mankind, through the whole World, in all ages, be in so strange a delu­sion, if there were no real ground for it?—(5.) How convincingly do's this witness to a conscience, and the reality of it, that men are at so much work to bribe it, to frame diversions thereto, yea, to find out false grounds of peace, and some such gloss and commentary, as many reconcile the rule with their grossest actings and exorbitancies? And why is this, but that in outdaring it, they find it stron­ger then they, and therefore must counterwork, by darkening that great light, and find out some shew of reason to silence conscience, and promise peace to themselves, though they walk in the wick­ness of their heart.—(6.) Do not these strange extreams, which oft are obvious in men's condi­tion, witness the reality of this power? O what a marvellous thing, to see one stupid, this day; and desperate the next, the conscience breaking out, at that rate, that to be rid thereof and its torment, the poor man would seek a shelter in the grave? Yea, is it not usual to see some wear out their time as beasts, yet at dying seized with an inexpressible horror of God? Is not this something wakened, which was formerly asleep?—(7.) Do not men see such desparate acts of wickedness in the World, such furious running over warnings and convictions, that may even convincingly shew some pursuit of the consci­ence, and that horrid way they take to be rid of it by revenge, to give it a further wound and silence its noyse, by some violent deep stroke!—(8.) Are not [Page 233] these sudden unlooked for out-breakings of the consci­ence most remarkable; how it takes some unawares and grows upon them, the more they strive with it? It is known also, what reflections men usually have on themselves and their actions, in some present exigent and hazard; yea, how they are thus affrighted, or in some measure quiet, as they are put to condemn or acquit themselves on that score. Now is not this a convincing witness of the force of a natural consci­ence; And likewise that usual recourse, which the grossest of men will in such an extremity have to God by prayer, do's both declare this, and that impres­sion they have upon them of a Deity.—(9.) How marvellous a confidence and support do's the conscience afford where it is a friend, under the greatest misery and trouble from without; For thus a man's spirit can sustain its infirmities. But O when it is an adversary, nothing (nothing) so unsupportable; it will torment and tear one within, when there is none without dare provoke him; yea, cause the oppressor to tremble, whilst it upholds the oppressed with confidence; it makes the one eat his bread with joy, when it imbit­ters the pleasant morsels of others. (¶)

SEVENTH. That there is a reward for the righ­teous, and unquestionable gain in Godliness, is a piece of the Scripture not only well known, and witnessed to the observing Christian in his experience, but is also held forth in every age, as in great letters to the view of the world. Ps. 58. 11. Ps. 97. 11. Is. 3. 10. It is true, that the Christians lot is oft followed with much trouble, and sometimes with loss of his life, which may seem to have a very dismal aspect. For that great goodness, which the man who feareth God, hath ensured to him, is much laid up in another world: but it is also sure, that there are such clear convincing proofs of this truth held forth [Page 234] even to the observation of men, by which the Lord hath in every age confirmed the same, that I am sure the greatest Atheist cannot answer even these.—

1. That this is the very dictate of a natural con­science, not only that God is, but that he is a rewar­der of such as serve him: yea, none amongst men are so gross, or brutish, who are not in some mea­sure principled to difference betwixt good and evil, with some fear of a punishment to the one, and some hope of recompence to the other; and are also forced to notice some more signal and convincing examples, which have been of that kind in their time.

2. Must we not say, yea, doth not the World see, in every age, that history of Joseph in some part acted over again? Sure, there have not been want­ing many such remarkable instances, wherein it might be easy to trace an upright and straight walk through a very maze and labyrinth of changes, and to show how that hath been their condition, & at last integrity hath brought them to land in a comfortable harbour; yea, how often they have had a marvellous, unlooked for relief, contrary to all humane appearance. This in­deed is no romance; but a most true history, which through all times, and many examples, might be written of the Word and providence, which would surpass the richest fancy, that any fiction or romance did ever contain.

3. Must it not be convincing, even to the worst of men, what a visible blessing doth oft follow the mean lot of some of the Saints, which can make their little reach far, and cause them to abound more in their poverty, than others amidst their abundance? Which, I think, the world cannot shun to observe, and gather that there is surely something else than mens own care, which doth their business: and how that ordinary proverb falleth not to the ground, that it is better to be happy than wise, when they see a se­cret [Page 235] judgment blow upon some men's estate, that no means can prevent; and a secret blessing, which ma­keth things prosper and take effect, accompany the Christian's little: so as it may be easy for such who look abroad, to see where real contentment, with chearfulness and giving of thanks, useth to dwell.

4. May not the world see, there is a feast in a good conscience, how little soever they partake of the World? that well doing, and the practise of godli­ness, hath some present reward in its hand? Whereas so remarkable a difference may be discerned betwixt the countenance and carriage of such, and of them who trust in falshood, that surely in a time of strait, those have another kind of security and confidence, when greatest natural spirits fail; yea, that those a­lone can enjoy themselves, [...] the most calm and composed spirits, amidst the several changes of their life; that according to outward things their peace doth not ebb, nor flow, but they are at a seen ad­vantage above others, in the day when men are sore outwitted with their straits. So as it will be most easy then to see the good and advantage of religion, when the vanity of other advantages is most discer­nable.

5. Is it not also seen, that true honour doth truly wait on humility, and followeth such; But that it fleeth from them who do most pursue it: yea, that faithful­ness and an upright walk will gain credit even amongst her enemies, and respect before the World?

6. That those who are faithful in their life, and diligent improvers of a small talent, have usually more added, with some discernable growth follow­ing the same: and as the drying up of the parts of some, as a judgment on unfaithfulness, is oft ob­vious, so also such a blessing upon serious diligence, as hath made the last to be first, and even outrun such who were once before them. Yea, it is truly seen, how [Page 236] grace helpeth men's gifts, doth raise and sublimate their spirits, above that which once they were.

7. Doth not the Lord put some visible difference oft, betwixt the righteous and the wicked in a time of common calamity? that a strange deliverance with the concurrence of very marvellous providences, doth sometime await such, even to the conviction of obser­vers; which may tell the World, such have had an in­visible hedge of preservation about them, and have been under some better care, than their own.

8. What a clear witness do ungodly men oft bear to this truth, at their death, or at some other strait, so that their conscience hath forced them to justify the godly man's choice, & to say, that the lot of such is only most desireable: [...], with much bitterness to lament their own folly, [...] made not religion more their business, the good & advantage whereof is now no matter of debate. Sure, the World will confess, how oft the confession and testimony of such men, to this truth, hath reached their ear.

9. I shall but add, that which is so very mani­fest, how faithfulness and integrity doth transmit men's name with more honour; yea, maketh it have a sweeter savour in their generations, than either riches or outward preferment: yea, that there is a great difference betwixt the memorial of the righte­ous, and of the wicked, even to the conviction of the world.

EIGHT. That verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth, Ps. 58. 11. who doth render unto men vengeance, and doth pursue the transgressor, because of sin, is a truth, which the world hath in every age by many convincing instances held forth to them, where they may see the Scripture clearly verifyed.

[Page 237] I have a little touched this in the second Argument how the accomplishing of Scripture threatnings is witnessed to the observation of the Church, and to those who are wise to discern the times, wherein they live. I shall here point at this truth, as it is in the providence of God, written in such great letters, as are obvious to the view of the World, so as most common observers cannot pass this without a re­mark. It is true, much may be laid over to that great general assize of the last judgment, that day of retri­bution; yea, sometimes we see the most wicked and vile go in peace to the grave; the sovereignty of God doth also appear very observably in the dif­ferent measure and kind of punishment; and it is too evident, how prone men are to look more to the in­terest that second causes have in such a thing, than to a divine hand: but this is also sure, that the Lord is known on the earth by the judgments which he executeth, and in every age doth set up such convincing examples before men, that the greatest Atheist may see, yea, oft their conscience must break the jay [...], restrain it as they will, and force this acknowledgement, that such judgments can be no casual thing; while something of a power higher than man, and a clear verifying of the word, are so discernable therein.

Now to demonstrate this truth, I would offer some things which may shew how very near this cometh to the observation of men, so as none can be a strang­er thereto, or want conviction of this piece of the truth of God, except they willingly shut their eyes, while it is clear,

1. That the very Heathens, who never knew the Scripture, nor a written Law, have yet so much of a natural conscience, that not only they can put some difference between virtue and vice, but even in some measure can discern God's putting some difference betwixt the same, and how flagitious crimes use to be [Page 238] punished by a divine hand. We may say, time could never yet wear out the observation of this truth, through the World: & though many things may be received and credited, which not having a sure ground do quickly evanish (it being truth's priviledge still to out live falshood) yet it is sure, how in the dark­est parts of the earth, this hath been still noticed with a special remark, & transmitted from one age to another; yea, the records of the nations, even by heathen writers, shew what remarkable punish­ment hath followed cruel oppression, Covenant-break­ing, and such other gross sins against the second ta­ble; yea, how these have been the usual forerun­ners of great strokes on Kingdoms and families.

2. Doth not the World see, that in those remark­able judgments, which have come on a Nation and People, there is something higher than instruments, or second causes, which may be very evident in bringing the same about: so that all who go by, must con­fess, such is no casual occurrence, nor doth arise out of the dust, but that surely a divine hand is there? And truly, though some desolating strokes are very ter­rible in themselves, and blood and ruins should be no matter of pleasure; yet, whereas thereby that state­ly sound is heard, even his voice who maketh the earth to tremble, and God is made known to the sons of men, we should not only with fear, but even some ho­ly congratulation consider his work. Now to clear what a convincing witness these are to this truth, I shall point at some very obvious remarks, which I am sure the World cannot contradict, of the Lord's own immediate hand in such judgments.—(1.) That strange concurrence of providences, which u­seth to appear when God is against a People; how all things will then conspire, as a fatal conjunction, to work their wo and ruin, that men may see, surely this is from the Lord, who is wonderful in counsel, [Page 239] and from a hand against which there is no striving. (2.) How such remarkable strokes are seen to fall in with some great and remarkable height of sin in such a nation and People; so that it is easy then for all lookers on to confess the righteousness of God thereon.—(3.) When judgment is coming on a land, it may appear how instruments are raised, and in a more then ordinary way acted with all advantages for such a piece of service.—(4.) There is a visible blasting then both of counsel and strength, and those means, which otherways looked most probable; how remarkably such are confounded, even in the use of their ordinary abilities, & their heart & usual courage taken from them, while the Lord is on a work of judgment.—(5.) That astonishing success, which is usually seen to follow those whom the Lord sendeth forth to execute his judg­ment; how then they move swiftly, & with vigour; they do not stumble, or weary; it is neither rivers nor walled cities can stand in their way; mountains are made vallies, to shew it is the Lord, whose hand in that day is strong upon them, to strengthen their loins, and make the sword and ax sharp for his ser­vice. (6.) Amidst these various strokes which come on a land, can men pass that of the Pestilence without some special note? where God's immediate hand, something supernatural, above ordinary or natural causes, may be clearly seen, in its strange progress and spreading, which like lightning doth oft go through cities and countrys in a small time! Do not these tell, aloud to the World that they come not unsent, and without some special commission; and that there is no striving against them, nor are ordinary means effectual in some such extraordinary plagues, until he who brought it on, do also by his own hand take it off.

3. Very obvious even to the world is that clear resemblance, which is oft betwixt sin, and the stroke: how holy justice doth keep a proportion, [Page 240] and doth shape out the judgment so exactly, both in measure and kind, that it may be easy to see the stroke pointing (as with an hand) to the cause, by its discernable likeness; and both at the righteous judg­ment of God, which thus measure out to men, as they have dealt with others. We see how the Lord judged Agag, and Adonibezeck; how Sodom's burning lust was punished with fire from heaven: Yea, what even David had measured out for his murder and adultery; for the one, the sword shall not depart from his house, and for the other, his wives by his own son abused. And truly every age's observation can witness this truth from many convincing examples, that there is a God who judgeth in the earth. It being oft seen if men would seriously observe, (1.) How an universal over­spreading of sin in a land, hath usually some national and universal stroke following.—(2.) That blood wait­eth on bloody men, and suffereth them not oft to live out half their days; one oppressor punished by ano­ther: the unmerciful man payed home in his own coin, by such as shall shew as little mercy to him, or his.—(3.) How the proud and insolent, who do most hunt after outward glory, are usually punished with some humbling abasing stroke. He poureth Contempt on princes; and such who will not honour God, shall not obtain that honour they seek from men.—(4.) That such who have been most given up to Uncleanness, are oft seen not to increase as to their Posterity, but their issue observably made to fail; yea, by a divine hand rooted out: sure many such signal examples might be instanced.—(5.) How such who have chosen sin, to shun trouble and suffering, have in their sinful way got as large a measure thereof, as that man, who in Q. Mary's time said, he could not burn for the truth, and therefore forsook it, by an unseen hand, had both himself and his house in one night burnt.—(6.) That the treacherous and deceitful men are thus dealt with by [Page 241] others, yea, children who have been undutiful to their parents, have from their's met with the same recom­pence.—(7.) That whilst men, to make a purchase, have even denied themselves the necessary use of out­ward things, they are oft seen to leave their estate to such, who do quickly waste and scatter the same; and thus the sinful parsimony of parents is punished with the prodigality of such who succeed them.—(8.) That the frequent use of some dreadful imprecations is oft punish­ed by the Lord with a suitable stroke, to the conviction both of themselves and observers (9) How such as have joyned together, and united themselves against the truth, have been visibly broken as to their own private interest: and truly we must say, there is oft such a conjunction of very convincing circumstances, in some acts of the judgment of God, with such a resemblance to the sin, yea, judgment sometimes pursuing men in the very place, where the sin hath been acted, that it may be easy for all who [...], to say, there is in­deed a God who judgeth in the earth.

4. Doth it not appear, how very convincing and obvious this truth is even to the World, from those ordinary remarks and proverbial sayings, which we find in all ages and in every part of the earth, even the most rude and ignorant have had, of the judg­ment of God. For truly what else are these but an express witness, how universally this truth is known, and received by men, how much the World is convinced thereof, through a long tract of observa­tion, from the fathers to the children: yea, thence they have had a divinity of their own, drawn out thereof; how such sins do not use to pass without some exemplary punishment. Now I would but name some few of these remarks, that have been most usual in all times. (1.) How some families have not thriven, but a secret judgment hath been discernable thereon, since they had hand in some gross acts of [Page 242] wickedness, such as bloodshed; their former pros­perity from such a day visibly declining.—(2.) How that an evil purchase useth not to be of long continuance, but their estate oft in a very strange and unsensible may made to vanish, which their children though frugal can by no means keep up: and the cause here­of men do easily point at, it was purchased by fraud, transmitted with a curse cleaving thereto, and so there was no warding off the judgment of God.—(3.) Such who do not much consider God's controversy, yet are oft forced to remark, that since some have medled or matched with such an house, they have sadly smarted thereby, something of a curse even following the race and posterity of some.—(4.) How sacrilegi­ous medling with that which hath been for a pious and publick use, hath caused a visible waste and con­sumption in their own estate.—(5.) That men's asking counsel from the Devil, & turning to that quarter for their help, doth usually resolve in a sad and tragick close; and truly this, many in the shutting up of their life have been forced to confess.—(6.) That falshood doth not use to keep its feet, nor a wicked way long prosper, what ever it seem to at the first view: yea, I may add, as one of the world's remarks, which they cannot well shun, that which seemeth was an ordi­nary saying in the time of Esther, that it is not safe troubling the Church, or for men to state them­selves in opposition to that party; & I dare not ques­tion, but this shall be yet as convincing and obvious to the World, as it hath been in any former ages.

5. Is not the appearance of a divine hand oft very obvious to the World in the discovery of sin, and bringing to light some gross acts of wickedness, even in extraordinary way? while its seen, (1.) By what strange unexpected means these have been brought forth; such an astonishing affliction, & concurrence of things therein, as hath forced not only lookers on to [Page 243] some special remark, but hath even struck the guilty party through the heart with wonder, and conviction of the same.—(2.) How the hand of Justice pursuing men for some notorious, and publick crime, doth oft bring to light some that have been most secret, which they thought the World could never reach: yea, it may be frequently seen while men have been in one fin found out, it hath also brought forth the disco­very of some other, and forced them to confess, that it was a righteous judgment pursuing them for the same. It is a thing also known, yea, by many undeniable instances witnessed, that marvellous disco­very of concealed murder, by the bleeding of the body upon the touch of the murderer. I confess, it should be hard to assert the lawful and warrantable practice of such an appeal to so extraordinary and stupendous a sign from the Lord, where Scripture goeth not clearly before us: but on the other hand, such a thing so surely tryed for such an end, and in the case where all ordinary means of discovery have been wanting, I think, calleth us to a serious remark thereof, while it so visibly seemeth to witness his hand, who doth make inquisition for blood.

6. Is not the dreadful consternation, those torment­ing fears, which men after some gross acts of wick­edness do bewray, a very obvious witness to this truth, that there is a God who judgeth on the earth, in whose hands it is a terrible thing to fall, and shew­eth, how great a punishment wickedness is to its self? Truly if Atheists turn not brutish and stu­pid, they must notice this, and confess a thing which doth so oft reach their ears, what have been the horrid crys of many dying men, who have most sported with sin in their life; that may tell standers by, there is a Judge who can stretch forth his hand on the soul and conscience, whereto no rack or outward torment is any way comparable.

[Page 244] 7. I would further add; those extraordinary signs and prodigies, which do usually go before some stroke and judgment on a land, do they not clearly point at a divine hand in the same? For as these are a solemn forewarning from Heaven, to give men an alarm, before remarkable changes, the truth whereof the World cannot deny; so we must say, they are a con­vincing testimony, that these judgments are no ca­sual things, which the Atheist cannot answer; it being so clear, (1.) That such signs and prodigies have been in every age visible to the World's experi­ence, and the gravest histories both of ancient and latter times, do fully witness.—(2.) That such things should also be previous to great revolutions in the World, we know the Scripture is most express, Joel. 2. 30. Luk. 21. 11. And as we should guard against any superstitious respect, we should al­so beware of stupid Atheistical inadvertency at these strange works of the Lord, which call both for fear and observation.—(3.) That such have been usually previous to great calamities and judgments on a People, is a thing that all ages must witness; even those, who have been most cautious and discerning in their time, who could not shun this as a remark. Herodotus doth set that down as a thing most sure, in his sixth Book. Cum Deus puniturus est gentem & urbem prodigiis, id solet significare. And Lucan could tell what went before the Romans civil wars,—Superique minaces Prodigiis terras implerunt. Yea, it can hardly be instanced any great change or revolution in the earth, which hath not had some such extraordinary Herald going before.—(4.) Can the World deny how sometimes these prodigious signs have been shaped out to point at the very nature of the stroke then imminent, by a strange resemblance to the same; such as a flaming sword in the air, the ap­pearance of armies fighting even sometimes upon the [Page 245] earth, to the view of many, most sober and judi­cious Spectators, also showers of blood, the noise of drums, and such like, which are known usually to go before wars and commotions.

NINTH. That there are evil spirits, (Eph. 6. 12. Rev. 20. 2, 3.) and a Diabolical power, such as the Scripture hath held forth, whose constant work is the ruin and undoing of man, is a truth, not only wit­nessed from that experience Christians have of their assault but is undeniable by the world, and greatest Atheists, except they deny the discovery of sense, as well as reason.

I confess, it may cause fear & astonishment, to think on this, that spirits so knowing and once originally excellent, have fallen thus into such an height of in­dignation against infinite goodness, that it is now their only aim and pleasure, to dishonour God, and destroy his image in man. It should indeed cause us to fear him, that spared not the Angels who sinned. But the truth it self is sure, that such a party is at this day encompassing the earth, and trafficking up and down there: to prove which by arguments, were to light a candle to let men see that it is day, while it is known what ordinary familiar converse many have therewith, and alas too easy to discern that power, which the prince of this World hath upon the children of diso­bedience. How obvious are the marks of his conquest almost every where; Thousands lying in his chains! How far do we see many transformed into the very image of the Devil; which in those desperate prodi­gious acts of wickedness that are oft in the world, may appear; such, whereat we should think human nature, though corrupt, could not but tremble, yea, look on with horror! how many in all ages have even been in an express covenant with them? and is not there a great part of the earth, where the Devil is visibly and [Page 246] audibly known, where he hath a kind of neighbourhood with men? But there being no need for such a de­monstration, I only here aim to hold forth what a concerning truth this is, and of great consequence, if seriously considered; yea, how both the Scripture, and Christian Religion, is hereby evidently con­firmed since these things must necessarily follow,—

1. That in this the Scripture is truly fulfilled, which doth witness what these Spirits are, adversaries to man; in their nature and Inclination desperately evil; whose actings in the earth have a visible ten­dency to men's hurt and ruin; yea, their pretended savours always directed to that end; whence we see such a natural inbred horror, which is in man against them.

2. That it is no common thing, which they so much pursue; something more precious than the body, for which so great and cruel an adversary is in conti­nual labour; for their actings have no such tendency to ruin men's estate in the World: no, it is most evi­dent, this is the soul, the immortal soul, to undo them in that great interest, is the mark, whereat they level; that poor man might be sharer of that misery, under which they are concluded.

3. Is it not an undeniable consequence of this truth, that there must be an invisible World, that hath inha­bitants of another kind than such as are here; that sure there is some being above man; yea, a real correspon­dence betwixt men and Spirits? And should not man, thus placed in a middle estate betwixt the Angels and the beasts here below, partaking in his body with the one, but in his reasonable soul with the other, thence raise himself to thoughts of some more excel­lent condition, for which he is framed, than a sensual life; and that surely the soul hath an interest in an­other world, which he should most look after?

[Page 247] 4. Must not this also be sure, that there is an invisi­ble guard; and these desperate Spirits are under restraint, by a power stronger than they, which can bound their malice? For, this may be certain, that these who have so great enmity to man who are so near, and have such advantages over us, could not keep at such a distance, but that they are kept in chains by a higher power.

5. How is it that now by the Gospel and within this precinct of the Church, Satan's power is so much restrained, in respect of former times; while it is known, what a familiar converse they had with men, did e­ven haunt their houses, and were so publick in their appearance under such names of Faries and Brounies, which since the breaking out of the light of the Gospel hath not been? Yea, hath not the Devil to this day an open throne and dominion in those parts of the earth, where Christ is not worshipped? It is also known, how the oracles of old did cease, and that publick wor­ship, which the world for many ages had given them, with the very time of Christ's appearance, and breaking out of the Gospel; these night-beasts getting to their dens, when once the day was broke. Plutarch and other heathen writers are witness to this.

6. Whence is it that within the Church, where Satan is most restrained, yet there he doth more stir, than in all the world besides? Doth it not shew, that that is the party with which he is at war? Hence doth he more rage, the more clear the light shineth: yea, is there not seen something, besides men's natural en­mity at the truth, even a fury and violence, where­with some are visibly driven, in their acting with such an unsatiable cruelty against the followers of Christ, without the least shadow of provocation, as holds forth a lively resemblance of the Devil, and some vio­lent pressure and incitement from that quarter!

[Page 248] 7. Is it not sure, that there is such a party, by this, that he is an adversary to God and holiness; for which reason he doth so impetuously tempt and press men to the outward acts of sin? Yea, that there is a Spirit of blasphemy, which so visibly rageth in the world, and acts men to war against Heaven with their tongues, by cursing and blasphemous oaths, which hath no car­nal pleasure or gain, but yet they can not forbear; from a violent incitement, which may be seen swaying [...]o the same.

8. Whence is it, which is so very known and no­torious that those horrid wretches who give themselves to the Devil, cannot enter in any formal engagement without renouncing Christ and their baptism? doth at not shew that direct opposition he stands in to Christ, yea, to the very name and shadow of Christi­anity?

9. Whence is it that even the grossest Atheists, upon any appearance of the Devil, or apprehension from that quarter, will not then make scorn of prayer, but burn in earnest to that, which at other times they mock­ed? O doth it not shew, men's Atheism is their judg­ment; that not only there is a dreadful horror and fear, which by nature men have of these evil Spirits, but some inbred sense also and impression of a Deity, which doth bewray it self, whither they will or not, in a pressing strait and extremity!

TENTH. That there is such an enmity betwixt the seed of the woman, and the Serpent, as the Scripture hath held forth, is very manifest: a truth, wherein the world may see the Scripture clearly verified, Gal. 4. 29.

It is truly strange, that this putteth not men to more serious thoughts, to pursue such a thing to its true rise, what should cause such a violent and unrea­sonable contrariety against the ways and followers of God; for here, upon grave reflections, they must needs [Page 249] see, that their way in this is a convincing witness to the truth of the Scripture, which might put them in some other humour, yea, help to turn this poison into an antidote against it self. But this is sure and undeniable, the discovery whereof cannot but stare the greatest Atheist in the face, from these con­vincing evidences.

1. That it is seen, no private quarrel which ever was among men, hath been with such vigour and malice pursued, as this upon the account of religion; which hath still put the World more in a flame, than any private interest: yea, it is very manifest how men are carried with the stream of their own natural inclinati­on, to oppose the Church and People of God.

2. That this seed and enmity could [...] be ta­ken up through all the successions of time; a strife which is not late begun, to be seen only in one age, betwixt the children of the bond-woman, and of the free. No, the most sage and wise amongst men, the greatest Peace-makers, could yet never fall on a way to reconcile these two parties; but the children have still served themselves heirs to the quar­rel and hatred of their fathers against the Church.

3. Is it not seen, that those who are more civil, and can hold a little up with the form of religion, yet will break forth in greatest rage against the power thereof, when once it begins to appear? It is indeed here, that inbred contrariety, which is in men a­gainst holiness, doth bewray it self, even in those who are otherways noted for a calm and peaceable disposition, while once they begin to be scorcht with its heat.

4. What strong natural antipathy is this, which causeth men to pursue with so much bitterness those from whom they never had any personal injury? Sure their conscience must oft tell, that they have no reason, or any other provocation, than what is from the appear­ance [Page 250] of the image of God in such: but this is their nature and disposition, an enmity which they can no more help, than they can change their nature, or the Leopard can change its spots.

5. Form what a strong inclination, and inward principle, doth the World thus act in its opposition to the Church and followers of God? whilest it is clear, though these were never so quiet and peaceable yet their enemies are still restless, and cannot sleep beside them.

6. It is seen, how this doth separate betwixt nearest friends and relations and alienate such who have sometimes been most dear to other: no bond in na­ture so strait, which it will not break. It doth oft set the husband against the wife, and the parents against the children; Yea, when religion once breaks out in a corner of a land, or a family, doth it not then make a visible jar, and put all in a flame.

7. It is clear, that when once grace appeareth in men, they are as a sign and wonder to a profane gene­ration. The World doth then sensibly change her countenance, and looketh like a step-mother: while on other hand it is clear, that professors turning loose, and running to an excess of riot with others, will cause their old adversaries to warm towards them; and alas, proveth the surest way to gain men's friendship, while the World thinks, they are their own, when once they turn profane.

ELEVENTH. That the Creature is made subject to vanity, because of sin: which not only the wisest of men, but the Spirit of God, doth witness, that things here beneath the sun, are indeed vanity, and vexation of spirit, (Rom. 8. 20. Eccles. 2. 11.) is a piece of the Scripture, in such great letters written forth to the view of men, that none can be strangers there­to.

[Page 251] It is true, the cause, and solid remedy of this so ge­neral a complaint, are only reached by the Godly man; who knoweth how to read the vanity of the creature, as a piece of the fulfilling of the word, and doth se­riously consider things as they are, and not as they ap­pear. But it is also sure, that in every age through the various changes of man's life this is so clearly wit­nessed, that the most gross and brutish cannot shift the conviction thereof: but in one of these two times have been forced to a publick acknowledging of the same; at death, when they are leaving the World, or in a day of strait, when the World is leav­ing them. How to demonstrate this, I shall he [...] but offer these few queries.

1. Have not the greatest instances of the glory of the World, been usually the greatest examples of its vanity, and change? How few hath ambition raised, but it hath also ruined; yea, given the sorest fall to those it had lifted most high? What sudden changes do attend great men, and high places; which those who sit low, do escape? Sure, if the tragedies of Princes, and such who in their condition have been raised above others, were put by themselves in record, it would make a great volumn, and shew how their glory and prosperous estate did only make their fall the more observable.

2. Is it not obvious, what a frail dying disposition is in all worldly things; that even the greatest King­doms and politick bodies, to maintain which neither policy nor strength was wanting, yet like natural bodies of men had their inevitable periods, their youth and flourishing times, their declining and old age, and at last been brought to their grave? Hath not the glory of greatest Empires and Monar­chies sunk in the dust? yea, scarce a heap of stones left this day, to tell us where once famous cities have stood, Nun [...] Seges est ubi Troja suit: the ruins where­of [Page 252] and such excellent pieces of the World, doth clearly shew that certain dissolution of the whole far brick at last.

3. What a small distance we may see betwixt ex­tremities in outward things, even greatest plenty and poverty, the highest place and a low condi­tion! So that the morning hath seen some happy and flourishing in the World, whom the evening hath seen miserable: and in a most short time, such who have been objects of envy and admiration, made the object of men's contempt and pity; yea, have so suddenly disappeared, have sunk into so little bounds, that men have been put narrowly to confi­der them, and with admiration ask, Are these they who were once a terrour in the land of the living! And their place hath not been found, who a few days before seemed to place themselves alone in the midst of the earth?

4. What else is it but the very present moment of time, that maketh such a difference betwixt the rich and poor? since as to what is past, and the former time, men's happiness and misery may be reckoned as though it hath never been. Nam quicquid retroest, m [...]rs tenet. And who but a fool would boast of that which is to come, a thing so uncertain? This only is sure, that a few days will make all conditions equal, when the bones of the rich, and the dust of greatest Princes, will not be discernable from those of the poor man.

5. Is there any thing so pleasant, which hath not a worm at the root thereof, a moth which naturally breeds in the most satisfying enjoyments, that quickly eats out the heart thereof, and blasts their hope be­fore the harvest? How oft is greatest longing, in the pursuit of things, turned to loathing and weariness, when obtained? because it is not the nature of the thing, so much as an humour, and the novelty thereof, [Page 253] that maketh them pleasant. Hence many sensual men have turned Monastick, and greatest. Monarchs become melancholy; yea, how usual is it for many to survive their pleasures, and bury their joy and delights in the World, even before themselves; while nothing remains of all their former enjoyments, but some sad sighs and groans with a heavy fare-well.

6. Is it not found that riches, and abundance of the earth doth load more than it fills, & men's wealth only further heighten their wants? How very poor are some amidst their fulness; more than those who earn their bread with sore labour; whom the world doth wholly possess, while they do not all possess it, neither is it in their power to make use of that they have. Yea, are they not sick and dy in Princes courts, as well as in the meanest cottage, and the complaints of the great and rich usually more than those of the poor? Sure it is known, that the great man doth oft­ner want a stomack and rest, than the poor want meat and a bed to ly in.

7. In what an endless circle do voluptuous man move, from one thing to another; in a perpetual search after other enjoyments, to satisfy their spirits? It sheweth what a great want is there, which still calls for variety of things, and some fresh supply, to take off the weariness of one pleasure by another: else the delight they have therein, would quickly languish and wear out. Yea, is it not still found, that the best of outward things are not, on a near approach, what they seemed to be at a distance? the eye not satis­fied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing! But the more they are pressed, the less they yield. Neither do they enjoy such things with most satisfaction, who take a full draught, who wallow and steep themselves in their enjoyments; being more in expectation, than in possession; so that sometime men's attaining [Page 254] their desire hath caused their delight, and pleasure in these things to cease.

8. It is also clear, that outward things are incident to the worst, without making them the better; and separable from the best, without making them the worse; and what can silver, or gold sute an immor­tal soul, or answer such a capacity, more than virtue and godliness could answer to fill an empty chest or glass bottle?

9. How rare is it for men to get their lot in the World brought up to their desire? But are still at some jar with their present condition; so that oft there needs no more to turn men discontented, but the thought of some lot, which they apprehend more sa­tisfying than their own; the want whereof makes them more disquieted than all their enjoyments are pleas­ing. Yea, it is also evident, many men's labour and disquiet doth increase with their wealth, and turns the flame more violent; and that even in the condi­tion of the poor there is something the great man is made to envy, while the poor may find cause of times to pity and compassionate some great men in the midst of their prosperous estate.

10. What is the enjoying of the best of the earth, but its very passing away, while it perisheth in the pre­sent use? And what! Are not men going through the world, and leaving it behind them, in the midst of their most satisfying enjoyments? Is not the excellen­cy of most outward things only according to opini­on, or the institution of men, while they have but small intrinsick worth from their own quality? In some parts of the earth, whiteness is reckoned defor­mity, and the blackest colour the greatest beauty, and therefore they paint the Devil white: What a poor smoke is swelling titles of honour, if soberly weighed? while the proud man's happiness doth some way hang upon the poor who go by, which they [Page 255] must beg from others with the greatest artifice: And would the choicest jewels, or a bag of gold laid upon the heart of a dying man, any way quiet his spirit, or ease his pain? Surely this is vanity.

11. Is it not oft seen amidst the various changes of the earth, Princes and great men walking on foot, and servants riding on horseback; the children oft put to ask an alms, from such who have served their fa­thers? fools loaded with wealth, and great stiles, while men of the choicest spirit are buried under contempt and poverty? yea, do we not see how quickly men are cryed up, and down in the World? That which in one age is raised, is oft rased in ano­ther; yea, many at much labour to undo that which others have done with greatest care and expence? what a sore vanity is this!

12. Will not the want of a very small thing oft em­bitter the pleasantest lot, and turn it into wormwood, and gall? The smallest touch of pain, the gravel, or tooth-ake, yea, even some melancholy thought, will make men disrelish all their present enjoyments. What torment doth a small ruffle and affront oft prove to the proud man, even in the midst of his glory? is it not also found, how carnal mirth and joy of men wallowing in the delights of the World, hath still in the close a bitter sting and harsh reflection, which as the shadow attends the body, is the native and unsepara­ble consequent thereof. And surely that may be easy to discern, there is no condition, which can want a cross, or some mixture of discontent, even where there is least seen cause.

I would add, which cannot want a remark in every time, that while men seem to be at the top, and fur­thest period of their thoughts and projects, have things according to their desire brought to some hap­py close, they are oft then upon some turn and change in their condition, either by death or some [Page 256] very sad cross, and even in that day their thoughts have perished. Truly such as are wise observers of the World, and of the course of things therein, may oft see, how usual an occurrance this is, that when there is too bright a sun-shine in outward prosperity, if great sobriety and moderation do not accompany the same, it is an ominous and fatal presage of a storm, and ad summum quicquid venit, and exitium prope est.

TWELFTH. There is this truth, which hath in all ages been clearly witnessed, even to the con­viction of the World, that the end of the upright man is peace; and integrity, what ever rub it may seem to have by the way, yet hath a sweet and comfortable close. Psal. 37. 37.

This is an undeniable truth, not only because the saints are then entring into perfect peace: but it is also clear, that however the godly man may have very sharp assaults in the close of his days, and some who have shined very bright, do set in a dark cloud, their evening full of sorrow and bitterness, yea, their reflection on some sad slip, which they have made by the way, bearing them company even to the grave; yet this truth is still verified, yea, may be descer­nable to the conviction of the world, that integrity and an upright walk hath much peace in the end, and doth land men upon a comfortable harbour: as to which, I can appeal to the World, and the most ordi­nary observers, if this hath not been oft very convinc­ing, and discernable to them; from many instances of the Lord's usual way with those who have been faithful in their generation, at their death; from that testimony which they have then given to this, yea, from most visible signs and evidences hereof, even upon their countenance and carriage: whilst it is seen,—

[Page 257] 1. How great an advantage such use to have above others, when Death approacheth; so that it hath not been Balaam's wish alone, to die the death of the righteous, and to have his latter end like theirs, but the worst of men are still forced to witness their respect to the lot of a dying Christian, and would wish a share thereof when it comes to their turn; about which I may ask the greatest mockers at Religion and at the life of a Godly man, if they can possibly shun this conviction, that surely such are at the best estate, and at the greatest advantage, in their end.

2. This I am sure cannot be hid from the World, that abundant peace the saints do then testify in their choice; what a present unspeakable complacency they have with this, that they valued Christ above all other advantages, did chuse affliction rather than fin; and now while they are turning their face to the wall, find the witness of a good conscience, and in God's approbation so sweet a feast, that their joy and peace on this account, they can not smother or keep in, but declare to all who stand by, what they find. And truly it hath been oft seen, how the inward joy which some of these have had, hath exceeded their outward pain, been more sensible to them, than their sickness; yea, they have been in leaving the World much more chearful than those whom they left behind.

3. It is also known, and may be very obvious to standers by, how with a sweet composure and recum­bency of soul such have laid themselves upon the promise, in that hour, while they were grapling with the king of terrors; their spirit then quiet and calm, having taken the truth and testimony of God for their shield and buckler: which may tell the World what another kind of security and confidence these have beyond others; yea, that surely the the ground on which this confidence is founded, [Page 258] must be a thing that is able to bear out the greatest storm and assault, and is something above na­ture.

4. Is it not clear, that even an untimely and vio­lent death could not hinder or frustrate that peace, which integrity causeth in the close? For innumera­ble instances can witness what marvellous joy and satisfaction the Saints have shewed at a stake, and upon a scaffold; and thence have had more chearful going out of time, than the rich man stretched upon his soft bed, or the greatest Monarch amidst all outward advantages. Sure we must say, that sweet refreshing close of the upright man hath never been more visible, and writ in greater letters, than in such a case.

5. What very sad conflicts have some of the Saints had in their life: yea, even upon the setting of the sun have been put to cry out through fore perplexing fears, and doubts, wherewith they have been assault­ed, who have at last had this turned into a song, and such a marvellous change in their case, as hath not been more sensible to themselves, than discernable to all lookers on, like a sudden calm and sunshine, after some dark storm. I must here ask the Atheist, and such as reckon Godliness but a fancy, whence should so strange, so sudden and great alteration proceed; that those who a little before were under such horror, could have no rest, no arguments could serve their turn, do thus witness the abundant peace of their souls; yea, (which is oft seen) that fervent desire, where­with some of the Saints are taken away, the very lustre of heaven being upon their countenance! How mar­vellous and piercing are their words, which may clearly tell that now they feel, they see, and have got some glance of that, which lookers on cannot reach, though they cannot deny an acknowledgment of this.

[Page 259] 6. Must not the World grant, yea, the greatest enemies to godliness allow this charity, that sure this peace and joy which such have witnessed at death, can be no counterfeit? That there is no tempta­tion could thus byass them to deceive others, and them­selves, in a matter of such high concernment; and at a time, when it is expected, the grossest of men would speak truth; yea, that this doth appear, while men cannot in the least charge dying Christians, with any distemper in their judgment, but while they have been most composed, stayed, and present in mind, and as to other things of their concernment, most deliberate and sober; even then they have born this witness.

(¶) Since that peace and joy, which integrity hath in the close of the day, when the Saints are dying, is undeniable, even to the conviction of the World, I would add something about that great truth, The immortality of the soul, and its subsisting after death: to which this joy, when the Christian is finishing his course, hath a special respect; and is a truth, wherein the Scriptures accomplishment, and the certainty of that blessed record, may be convincingly witnessed, and demonstrated to the World. For it is thus (I mean, by the light of the Scripture) that life and im­mortality is brought to light, and made known to the sons of men. I know, this seems so common and uncontroverted a thing, an after-being of the soul, and its eternal subsistence, that to essay more than the na­ming of it may be looked on as impertinent. But oh, how unknown a truth is it! of which there needs no more to shew the little solid perswasion men have, but that it is so usually passed with so few, and these very common thoughts. It is not indeed much ques­tioned, not because it is believed and men are sure thereof, but because they are not in earnest about such a thing. It concerns the World to keep at a distance [Page 260] from a thorough knowing of that which would be their torment to know; and there is cause for this sad regret within the Church, that the most great and fundamental truths, wherein our comfort is most concern'd, are usually least studied. But O should it not put us to other thoughts, if we could have a serious view of this? It may truly be said, the better part is so buried in the worst part, that until men are dying, few lay this to heart, that their souls must live for ever, yea, must once part fellowship with the body, and enter in another World, and an unknown state, until the resurrection. What I intend here, is only a short touch at this great truth, as it is a convincing witness to the Scripture, and the accomplishment thereof; about which I would offer these three to be considered. 1. How express and clear a testimony the Scripture gives to this. 2. On what plain and undeniable grounds of reason this truth is demonstra­ble to the world. 3. How great a thing it is, to be­lieve and be assuredly perswaded thereof: for it seems, men rather dream, than have their judgments seriously exercised, or are in earnest about such a thing.

As to the first, It is undeniable that not only the Scripture holds this forth, but that there only men have a clear and right discovery of it. It is indeed known, what glances the world hath had of this, yea, what hath been writ thereon, by some whose sole guide was the light of nature, in this search. But it is no less evident, how very dark and uncer­tain, these have been: they could not shift some conviction thereof, but it was through a dark cloud, and as some pleasant dream, they looked thereon; because they did not know its rise and original, and what the end was, to which in its actings it ought to be directed; they knew not what its after-condition could truly mean. Hence with such wavering and un­certainly do they express their thoughts. I do not [Page 261] here mean the schools of Epicurus only, to whom the soul was but a complexion of atoms; but ye see how perplexed and uncertain both Aristotle and o­thers of those famous ancients have shew'd them­selves about this: which speaks out more some per­plex'd and disordered notion, which they could not ward off, than any clear and certain discovery which they had on solid grounds thereof; for they knew not the Scripture, where its original, whence it is and whither it must return, is so clearly held forth. Eccl. 12. 7. And you may further see, Heb. 12. 9. Gen. 2. 7. Luk. 16. 22, 23. 1 Pet. 3. 9

2. This grave testimony, which the Scripture of God do's bear to such a truth, may be also held forth to the world from such a clear and rational demon­stration, that the most brutish of men can hardly sink so far into the condition of a beast, as to deny they have a never-dying soul, which will not go to he dust or inherit corruption with the body. I should be loath to borrow so much of your time, by any dis­course on a subject, which by others hath been so much handled; for which there are many, many arguments, unanswerably demonstrative of this truth, both Physical and Moral; yet having mentioned it, I cannot altogether pass the same without a touch at some few, that may be most convincing and obvi­ous. (1.) If you should question the being and subsi­stence of the soul after death, you must also deny its frame; that it is a simple, immaterial and active sub­stance, which hath neither quantity nor parts, and is not compounded of any principles, and therefore can be resolved to none.—(2.) Do but consider, if the soul have no cause of corruption, and from to contra­ries can suffer opposition, at the body do's, through the prevalency of heat or cold, how should it then admit of a dissolution with the body! For you know generation and corruption they are by contraries. And [Page 262] if you argue from any natural cause, it must surely be one of two, which makes the soul partake with the body in its decay and mouldering down; either a dependance on matter, as the soul of the beast hath, which is but a material form, or a conflict from con­trary qualities, which you know helps the bodies wasting and its fall: but I think, you would not so far contradict reason, as to alledge any of these concerning the soul of man.—(3.) Consider, if by those diseases to which the body is subject, the soul is not reached, must it not also have a distinct existence from it? And I am sure, you must grant, the soul doth not directly suffer from any outward diseases; but the body may be under expressible pain and anguish, when there is a sweet calm and serenity within.—(4.) Does not this witness, that the soul lies not a dying with the body, nor falls with it, since it suffers no decrease, but is found strong and vigorous in its actings, when the flesh is brought low, & on a visible decay? Yea, is it not at the greatest advantage in its exercise and discerning, the more separate from the body, and sen­sible things? Now it is sure, that cannot be destruc­tive to the soul in its being, which is so subservient to it in its operation. I think, those who ever obser­ved the joy and peace of a dying Christian, & the ex­cellent frame and composure of his soul, under a pain­ed and languishing body, through many diseases, may clearly see this truth, and there read a lecture of the immortality of the soul.—(5.) Will you consider, can the soul of man have a dependence on the body in its being, when it does no way depend thereon in its acting & exercise? For it is sure, it does truly act, yea hath a clear ratiocination, even when the body sleeps: and O does it not prove, that this soul that is found waking, when the other is asleep, must have a distinct subsistence, and live when that dies. (6.) If you admit that there are Spirits and incorporeal beings, which [Page 263] do act without a body, and yet have a true and real subsistence, can you doubt or question the existing of the soul, or its exercising the faculties thereof, with­out the body, though you do not reach how this should be? And if there be indeed a converse & in­tercourse betwixt us and Spiritual beings, yea, a truth in fellowship with God the Father of Spirits, O may not this satisfyingly demonstrate that existence and acting of the soul; even when the body is at a di­stance and in the grave!—(7.) Consider, that which you must grant hath a dominon and praeminence over the body; by its making a rational choice of good when it is most cross to the desire and delight of the flesh; yea can not only determine it to endure most grievous torments, but does oft witness a special de­lectation therein, must it not be something truly di­stinct from the body, and what can have a subsistence without it? Now this, I am sure, you will not deny, that there is such a dominion over the flesh, and a captiva­ting of it to the law of the mind; which the most sensual and brutish will not deny in many instances, how little acquaintance soever they have with it themselves.—(8.) Since there is a discovery and know­ledge of things, not only above the reach and impres­sions of sense, but even contrary thereto, that men do rationally judge and assent to truths, which truly contradicts their senses, as the rotundity of the earth, which sems to us a plain, &c. O does it not shew, that this soul in man, which can so far soar above the earth, and does so far exceed the body, must be of a more excellent mould, and something truly diffe­rent from it? I shall but add, what means that war and strugling which to every Christian is known be­twixt the flesh and the Spirit; yea, to every man is known betwixt him and his natural conscience? what mean those reflex acts of the soul on its self, those marvellous products of the understanding, and [Page 264] new discovery? why are men so anxious and con­cern'd about their surviving name, which is a most poor airy accident, not worth the regarding, if there were a destruction of the whole? what means that marvellous deportment of so many martyrs for the truth, that they should shew such a joy & satisfaction amidst their torments, as though they had no bodies; the pleasure of the soul so far overcoming the pain of the flesh? what means so universal a consent to this truth, that those who hate and fear it, yet cannot be rid thereof? & I must also ask, how are the choice and the excellent of the earth so oft crush'd under the feet of their oppressors, whilst these wretches do oft wallow in all satisfying outward delights; yea, sometimes go hence without bands in their death? In a word, O what is it that makes so vast a difference betwixt men and beasts, since these you see have a sensual life, want not some natural saga­city, and have their enjoyments by the senses as well as man?

3. Let us consider how great and astonishing a truth this is. O immortality, do men believe it (the soul's surviving the body, and that condition wherein it will enter) and yet have so few thoughts thereof! For this is a matter of such concernment, that may turn much of our life in a continued wondering. I must say, can this be believed, our having an immor­tal soul, which is of a more excellent nature and inestimable value, than these visible heavens, sun, moon and stars; and which no less than the blood of him who was truly God, could ransom from everlasting wrath, & yet that we put so small a price thereon! Is it indeed believed by men, whilst they are so hot in their pursuit after the world; since here is a question may silence all flesh, What should it avail a man to gain were it the whole world, when it is purchased with the losing of the soul? It is sure, there is no imaginable [Page 265] proportion betwixt that and a piece of red earth, or betwixt a few years of time and long eternity. I re­member a passage of worthy Mr. Blair, our own country man, who the first time he heard Mr. Bruce preach, said, The same of so great a man caused him to expect something very extraordinary from him; but his whole Sermon did press this truth of the soul's being immortal, and that it was a great thing to be­lieve it; he confessed, it did at first some way amuse him, why he dwelt so much upon so known and com­mon a subject: but after, he found it was some other thing than appears at the first look; for which men may dispute, and toss it as a notion in the schools, who never knew what it was to believe the truth thereof; and that a serious impression of it on the heart is something else than a swiming of it in the head, by some ordinary speculation of this. O what a truth would it appear, and what asto­nishment would it cause, if men would but some times go alone, and consider,—(1.) What it is they have thus held out to them, and how great a change is before them which ere many days must be in their condition, when once that strange step is passed, betwixt time and another world, which they can step but once.—(2.) That this marvellous change is truly near; time making long steps, the vessel under full sail, which carries men forward, whether they sleep or wake, to that port: for it is sure, this cannot be long deferred, and it is very unsure, but this night thy soul may be required.—(3.) That this change must be in a moment, in the very twinkling of an eye, and no interval, but a present entering of the soul into that after-state, which shall then put the Christian in the fulness of an inconceivable joy, in the immediate presence of God, in the embracements of the Mediator, amongst the angels, and spirits of the just made perfect; but one moment also must put o­thers [Page 266] out of their sensual pleasures and delights, the Prince off his throne, and those who have been wal­lowing in the world, down to those dark and horrid prisons, where with the ceasing of this world's me­lody, they are forthwith met with that horrid noise and howling of the Devils and of all the company of the damned.—(4.) Oh! if men would consider, what thoughts they shall then have in another world, of that other world, and what other thoughts of their former state and condition; how far they will find this beyond all they ever thought or conceived at a distance.—( [...].) Should it not cause astonishment to think seriously on this great change, which admits no after-change; But that there long Eternity is the true measure of the soul's duration after death! O what a long breathing-word, to be ever ever blessed or misera­ble, where the one hath no fear and can go no more out, and the other no hope or possibility thereof! The hope of the hireling is not there, that he may change his master at the next term; for these gates are ever­lastingly shut, by the decree of him who alters not.

Now to shut up this argument, I shall offer one instance more, wherein the world may see the truth of the Scripture, and therewith of a divine provi­dence, convincingly demonstrated, if prejudice did not draw a vail and obstruct so excellent a discovery: it is this, That the way of God is perfect (Psal. 18. 30.) and that his works are perfect; and his ways, judg­ment, (Deut. 32. 4.) yea, that he do's all things well (Mark. 7. 37.) which testimony then the multitude was forced to bear to this great truth: And O how great a truth is it! which can be said neither of An­gels nor men, but to Him hath a peculiar respect, even to him alone, in whose way there is nothing crooked, no mistake, no inequality, nothing too much or superfluous, nothing out of due time, that is either too soon, or too late, nothing incongruous, [Page 267] nothing misplaced; yea, in all he do's nothing which is not best done, which any could rectify or make better, but in every piece of his work leaves matter of wonder behind, and thus declares himself to be God! I know, this is a truth the World cannot well bear, but pretends a visible contradiction from the great disorder, that things here seem to be in; for men will oppose to this, what a miscarrying there is of instruments, what a strange emergency there is of most grievous and cross accidents, the most promi­sing means frequently blasted; yea, how good and evil are so strangely interweaved; and is not the present day oft undoing the work and labour of the former? Yet whatever the World can say to darken this great truth, That the way of the Lord is absolutely perfect, it must shine: yea, it do's not want clearness, when by a thick interposition betwixt us and the same, there may be need of clearing it. The sun ceases not to shine, when the clouds obstruct its brightness, as to us. O that those who will [...] so great a truth, would but come near, and by a serious perpending, consi­der the work of the Lord, then should they see so much in the daily tract and administration of provi­dence, yea, even in most ordinary passages thereof, that might arrest their spirit with astonishment, the discovery whereof they shun, by keeping at a distance from it.

I shall touch a little this demonstration, how this piece of divine truth is verified and writ out in the event, to the observation of the World, that they who cannot spiritually discern the same, yet have so much witnessed is to dazle their eyes, and force this acknow­ledgement, that the way of the Lord is perfect, and he hath done all things well! and for clearing, I would offer some particulars, though few, yet so very comprehensive, that in a large measure they reach not only th [...]se great works of God, where­in [Page 268] he most eminently declares himself about the Church, but takes in also the most ordinary things of providence, here under the sun, and therein de­monstrates the certainty of this truth.

First, you may see this clearly verified, that the way of the Lord is perfect, in the whole frame and structure of the Church of Christ here; which is made a great wonder, and an astonishing piece of the work of God, beyond the most exquisite humane contrivance, that ever was. It is true, her glory, that do's most affect the eye, and ravish the heart, it is within, and lies not in the common road of men's observation: yea, some parts of this excellent body oftimes are in such a disorder, as darkens the beauty of the whole; there is such an intermixture of the hay and stubble of humane inventions, with this choise building, that helps to mar its order and beauty; the carved work also may be spoil'd and broken down, as with axes and hammers; yet with all these disadvantages, there is a glory on the Church of Christ, an awful Majesty, such convincing marks of its grandeur, e­ven under its ruins, as have forc't the World, and the great men thereof, to consider that sight with wonder and amazement, which you see Psal. 48. they saw, they marvelled, and hasted away. And the preceeding words give clear reason, for God was known in her palaces for a refuge. They saw some­thing both in the grandeur and frame of the Church, and in her preservation, that forc't them to see that it was something more than humane. Now to clear this a little, do but consider these few instances, wherein you may see the great and stupendious fa­brick of the Church, and how all things are there well ordered by him who hath framed it.—(1.) You may see on what a sure foundation it is built, even that of the Prophets and Apostles which is the Scripture of God, whereon as it is manifestly found­ed: [Page 269] it is no less marvellously united and joyned to­gether in Jesus Christ, who is the chief corner-stone: will you seriously consider the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, its goings out and comings in, with all its ordinances, and there you may see how marvellously exact and uniform this building is. (2.) Is it not likewise obvious, that the Church, thus fitly joined together and knit, by all that the joynts do supply, in its whole complex frame groweth up as a building to the Lord? Yea, is there not a very strait union and correspondence betwixt all the parts there­of in the same faith and worship; that tho' divided in so many parcels through the World, yet is still one intire body, the union whereof, the variety of mem­bers and these of such various sizes, that great inequa­lity amongst them in their growth, the remoteness of place, different languages, exile or change of countries, yet cannot break off that near tie, that joins the Church of Christ together.—(3.) What a wonderful contri­vance is it, which is in the World, yet not of it? that spreads itself among the Nations, yet loseth not its own distinct being; is mixed with humane societies, yet an inclosure and incorporation by her self; a foun­tain of sweet waters sealed, though surrounded with this great salt Ocean of the world; is made up of many particular Churches, yet every part homogene­ous, and of the same nature with the whole; and though it seems to be open to sore assaults, yet is a de­fenced city, which is impaled, hath both her walls and watchmen, her bulwarks and strong towers! (4) This is of such a frame, that is both visible and invisible, yet not two distinct Churches; though, under diverse considerations, it comprehends both without any jar, and hath communion with Jesus Christ as her head for life; standing related to him as his mystical body, and yet as a visible politick body, is related also to him, as its supreme head, by a political go­vernment [Page 270] and guidance, and hath an express charter granted for its extents and rights.—(5.) This must be said of it, though black, yet comely; though it does not want some spots they do not so far mar its beauty, but, that in all its several administrations there appears a singular grace. It hath indeed its blemishes and failings, yet every measure and degree thereof does not forfeit her relation, rights, and pri­ledges.—(6.) Is it not a marvellous frame, which does not want a corrupt mixture, yet in its rule and con­stitution does allow no corruption; and though many are found gross within, yet does it difference betwixt the precious and the vile; yea, shuts its gates, as well as it opens, and is no more tender and easy in her ad­mission, then awful and authoritative in her rejection?—(7) Its so well constituted, that all her officers have their appointment, and each their work and charge design­ed, yet no greater variety of service and imployments, than there is of gifts, which from her head are dispen­sed and suted to the same.—(8.) She is of such a mould and frame, that though she can boast of an intrinsick power, within her self, yet must derive it from ano­ther fountain; yea, must have a directory and rule from her supreme head and lawgiver, for exerting the acts of that power: which also hath its proper ob­jects, even the inward man, and its peculiar end, the edification of the body, to which this power and the exercise thereof is directed.—(9.) This is such a body, the members whereof are indeed subject to the magi­strates, and denies no due obedience to that power, yet without any subordination or subjecting of the Church, as such, to an humane power: and though it hath not its authority or jurisdiction from men, it de­nies no just respect to these: it does bind and loose upon the earth, which no humane power can make void; and though cast in among the nations, yet by peculiar bounds is kept from all other socie­ties [Page 271] distinct: she hath her judicatories, and there a subordination of the lesser to the greater, yet no allowed preeminence and inequality amongst her officers: yea, though her government is trnly monarchick with respect to her head, for there is but one supreme Lord; yet with respect to the servants and officers, it is a most excellent well tempered aristocracy, which holds off those gra­dual differences of power and greatness amongst them, which are so much in use amongst the nations. In a word, O do you consider this choice and exqui­site frame, and you will see how both tenderness and severity do here concur; what a healing there is here in her sharpest rebukes and censures, whilst a private essay for gaining, is to go before a publick and judicial procedure; yea, her authoritative deter­minations without prejudice to the judgment of Chri­stian prudence and discretion, which belongs to eve­ry one of her members. Consider also how she wears not out, but hath still a spring after the winter, hath both her signs and her seasons, and whilst she is lo­sing and in a decay as to particular members, she is still travailing in birth for a new off-spring and succes­sion. O that they who stand afar, would but come near, and seriously look on this rare piece of work! Go about Zion, consider well her towers and bulwarks, &c. that you may see, this is a fabrick the Lord hath founded, & raised up, & that surely this piece of the word is there­in fulfilled, His way is perfect, & he does all things well.

Secondly, Is not this great truth clearly demon­strated, not only in the frame, but in the whole con­duct and administration of providence about the Church? Which is indeed one of the most marvellous discove­ries, we have of God here; yea, even to the world, is oft convincingly obvious, through what a varietie of dispensations he useth to bring forth his work, and makes his way oft break out of the bosome of a [Page 272] dark cloud; yea, so unexpectedly can make those perplexed changes, with which the Church mili­tant is tossed, resolve in such a satisfying close, that it may be seen they were all directed for her interest and advantage. I know, this is a great deep, and we cannot have such a discovery of the providence of God about the Church, nor reach the meaning of things in their first mould, as in their after-tenden­cy and product. O that marvellous sight, which shall once be, when that great work of providence, that now is put over into the hand of the Mediator, hath its perfect close; and the whole frame and contexture set up together as one entire piece to look upon, that is now by several pieces and through a various suc­cession of ages carried on! Yet we must say, the Lord herein comes so near, even in the darkest times, and makes the glory of this truth in such a measure shine forth, as may convincingly witness to any ordina­ry observers, the way of the Lord is perfect in all that he does. I shall here offer some few things, that in eve­ry time are obvious to those who take pleasure in such a discovery, and desire not to keep at a distance therewith. (1.) Must it not be said of his way, that he does nothing in vain, but makes all things congru­ous to his end, even things that amongst themselves do most cross one another? Does he not carry on his design by the miscarrying of instruments, and bring forth his greatest works by means most small and contemptible? I know, the world would object, they can see no such thing; and indeed providence cannot be understood, or the meaning thereof by one look: but I must ask, do you discern the motion of the hand upon the clock, even whilst it is certainly going forward? yet when it comes to the hour, and strikes, you will see it was then moving. It is sure, there are such periods, that providence hath, where its meaning does not clearly break forth, until [Page 273] is comes to the striking of the hour, if we may [...] say; and then the most stupid are forc't to [...] what once seem'd most improbable, in the way [...] the Lord.—(2.) Is it not also obvious how the [...] doth ensnare men in the work of their own hand, [...] turns their wrath unto his praise? how he takes the wise, and outwits them by their counsels; makes e­vents fall out contrary to the second causes; frustrates the most promising means; and by things unknown and unthought upon, does oft bring forth the delive­rance of the Church; yea, how out of shame and re­proach he does even bring about his glory Sure these are not so far in the dark, that in any age the world can altogether pretend ignorance thereof. And is not his way perfect, of which such things can be said?—(3.) Have we not this discovery, how the Church is oft fed by the rod; yea, under that appears with such advantage, that may be said, her meat hath been brought forth out of the eater? How usually is her mercy and enlargment prepared for her, by the sharpest down-casting? oft is she humbled, in order to an upraising and deliverance [...] [...]ea, oft is one step of the way of the Lord made clear to her by another. O is not here so excellent and marvellous a method, that all the wit and invention of the world cannot follow▪—(4.) His way is indeed perfect, and by an infinite wisdom managed, which does at once, and by the very same providence, reach so many several [...]: yea, bring forth such various and contrary effects, that no humane reason could ever judge the result and conclusion by the premisses; how severity and mercy should be at once brought forth; a more full stroke on the adversary, by their further raising, yea, by a long forbearance of that stroke; how he should also make use of the same mean both for hum­bling and proving and to do his people good in the latter end. O how perfect must his way be, where [Page 274] all the steps thereof, & after-product; would seem re­pugnant; yet no real jar. For the Church sinking, yet do's not perish; in a flame, yet not consumed, but is thereby kept alive; brought under the yoke of the oppressor, to make her grow and flourish; is woun­ded and smitten, for her further healing, and a wit­ness of God's tenderness to her thereby; hath a greater weight and burden put on, to give her thus ease and enlargement; yea, is chastned and meets with suffer­ing, to prevent suffering, that she may rest in the day of trouble! Sure these are a part of the ways of God, and may be visibly demonstrated in the conduct of his providence about the Church, even to the conviction of the world. But oh! it is hard to see, when men will shut their eyes.—(5.) Is it not obvious, what strange things do sometime fall in betwixt the be­ginning and close of some special piece of provi­dence about the Church, that do pass humane reach to give a present reason for the same: yet in all these may there not be discerned a remarkable dependance and connection of things? how in such a variety of cross events, and in a long continued tract of pro­vidence, every thing falls in aright, in its own place; yea, every step, every circumstance, so proportioned by a marvellous disposal and conduct thereof, to sute another, for making the whole complex pro­vidence beautiful; that on a serious review the world must confess, this is a concatenation so strange, that it must be his work, & his alone, who sees things from the beginning to the end! (6.) How perfect is his way, who can hasten and dispatch his work by delays; and when he seems to take a long circuit in bringing about his design, yet loses no time, but in such a visible going back do's most effectually move for­ward! Yea, is it not seen, how he makes things fall in, that are very unexpected, cross and remote (that would never have entred in our thoughts) to [Page 275] answer his blessed end? and even dispose that which above all might seem most directly destructive to the Church, to be of all other things most effectual and subservient to her advance; brings her more quickly forward to the harbor by a storm, than a calm! O have we not such great things to observe in the way of the Lord, that may shew it is indeed perfect!—(7.) It is also very clear, though not on the first view, yet in the close and issue, what a certain steady motion providence hath, and keeps on its course, whilst the World is reeling to and fro: how the Church's mercy hath by greatest disap­pointments been more fully answered, than in the most probable way; yea, when her relief seem'd furthest off, and had been much followed with many a weary look from some other quarter, with what a strange surprisal do's providence oft break out at her hand, as it were from under the ground, with an unexpected mercy?—(8.) You may see his way is perfect, who puts a peculiar beauty upon every occurrent of providence, and brings it forth in the very fit opportune time, that it could not fall out more seasonably and with more advantage to the Church. Is there not a seen cause for her sharp trials, and the necessity thereof no less discern­able, than there is of the winter, for the profit and ad­vantage of the earth? and is it not also manifest, her reviving came never too late, but in the very fittest time? I know, the World may object, they can see this in the revolutions of the Year, but not in any such changes of the Church: yet I am sure, this is manifest, that the Church of Christ hath her sad and her more comforting times here, with as descernable a succession of the one to the other, as there is of the Summer to the Winter; yea, that under these vicissitudes of her condition she is still seen to look forth with a pecu­liar advantage. I shall add; what a mavellous com­position [Page 276] and temperament of contraries is discernable in this excellent frame of providence? There is no­thing here incongruous; nothing here too small, which doth not fall under its reach, and nothing so great that can over-reach it; here is no jar or disagreeing with the diligent use of means, yet does this rise so far above the same, that no human care can bend it to their will, nor is there any running cross to such a current. Here is indeed an unsearchable deep! Yet so much is there broken forth and made clear, that may convincingly witness and verify this truth, even to ordinary observers, the way of the Lord is perfect. And what now we cannot attain in its discovery we should learn to admire and solidly believe a more clear mani­festation thereof.

3. I shall yet further pursue this demonstration wich respect to that great and marvellous work of God in the redemption of the Church; a contrivance, we may say, more wonderful [...] this whole structure of the universe, of the heave [...] and earth, which are so exqui­sitely fram'd! For here the thing itself is not more asto­nishing, than the way and conduct of infinite wisdom is, in the whole frame, and all the steps thereof. O this great thing, that men's distance therefrom does only keep them from being dazled; where their ig­norance is the great let why they do not more won­der at it! This is indeed far above nature, that with­out a divine illumination it cannot be known, or understood: yet we must say, so much is brought forth and discovered, that those who have only report, and thence give some ordinary assent there­to, cannot have their reason and judgment in ex­ercise without some such conviction upon their souls, that surely this is a contrivance above humane teach, and worthy of the great God; yea, that here­in his way is most absolutely perfect: and no sight can be like this, where we may see so excellent a corres­pondence [Page 277] between the foundation and superstruc­ture, that the whole tract of the Gospel is but one intire and compleat mean for glorifying God, and does in this as the ultimate end resolve. Here men may see the greatness of his power, that unexpressible freedom of his grace, the holy severity of justice, all meet and joyn together in a sweet agreement; where both justice is salved and fully answered, and yet sinners saved; where mercy does rejoice over condemnation; vengeance is taken on our inventions, and the inventers escape. O strange! a redemption without price and absolutely free, as to sinners; yet all that a just God could exact, fully satisfied and told down! It is here we may rise and pursue this great thing up to the fountain-head, which is the sove­reign pleasure of God, and is the internal impulsive cause; and thence follow it down to that infinite sa­tisfaction of the Mediator, which is the great meri­torious cause! And here we may see, how marvel­lously well ordered all the steps of this way are, all the parts of this contrivance; how the elect are made meet for the inheritance, through sanctification of the Spirit; how faith hath its special concurrence and in­strumentality, without prejudice to the absolute freedom of grace, since it is freely given to believe; how those excellent means are by a most strait connec­tion linked with the eternal counsel of God, and in a most beautiful order joined one with another! Here does sanctification flow from an eternal decree, and like an excellent stream doth run down through time, until it lose it self (to say so) in that great deep of everlasting blessedness! Yea, thus the purpose of the Lord runs under the ground, concerning his people, until it break out at last in their heart, by their answering the call of the Gospel! O how state­ly a pei [...]e of work this is! And is not his way perfect therein, where you may see that grand plot of the [Page 278] Devil to undo man, break upon himself, and by the seed of the woman, his head crushed! where so glorious a fabrick is raised out of so great a ruin, and poor man established by his fall! where the glory of the sovereign God, the freedon of grace, and man's blessedness, do at once meet together! where the cure is as broad and large as the wound, and the restoration made to answer to every piece of that ruin: I mean, not only in man's being ransomed from eternal wrath, but that the enmity should be killed and taken away, and such a marvellous change of his nature by the renewing of the Spirit, which even here restores him in part to that he lost! It is on this blessed contrivance we may see men brought under a constraint by irresistible grace, yet without vio­lence; their reason further raised and refined, yet not broken, and its true liberty not taken away, but restored; yea, a notable consistency betwixt moral perswasive arguments and the efficacious power of grace; betwixt men's planting and watering in the use of means, and the alone increase thereof from the Lord; betwixt a physical and moral concurrence in producing one and the same effect; betwixt those two desires in prayer, Da (Domine) quod jubes, et jube quod vis. Is there not likewise here a most excellent sutableness and congruity, betwixt repen­tance and remission of sins, without prejudice to the freedom of grace; since he gives repentance, as well as requires it, and makes his people what he would have them to be! O how marvellous a contrivance is this, where the blessed Majesty of God finds an ar­gument in himself, when man had none wherewith to plead; was found in the form of a servant, and be­came our nearest Kinsman, to redeem the inheri­tance: where his people's standing is ensured by an­other surety and strength, than their own; not on their apprehending, but their being apprehended: [Page 279] where the Lord do's oblige himself by bond, to make that good which is only of grace, and is most freely given: where he both frames the desire within the soul, and satisfies it! I shall only add, it is here the redeem'd having nothing in themselves to boast; and the reprobate none but themselves to challenge; for on whomsoever that door is shut, they have therein actively concurred, to draw a bar for shutting themselves out.

4. I shall offer one instance more, wherein this great truth may be demonstrated to the world (that [...] way of the Lord is perfect, that his works are done in judgment, yea that he do's all things well) with res­pect to that marvellous order of nature, and disposal of the works of God under the sun: how unexpressible well all are fitted for some use, & directed to their pro­per end. This is indeed a truth, wherein the greatest A­theists may see this piece of the Scripture convincingly verified, wherein God comes so near, that men may feel after him. (Acts. 17. 27.) that it may be said, there is no way to shift this discovery, but to stop their ears, and shut their eyes. O what a wonderful dis­posal may be seen, even in the commonest things, with a mutual subserviency to each other! and in this great variety and throng of the creatures, is it not obvious how each hath its voice and speech, to give us something of instruction; and every thing hath some matter of wonder in it, that we may say, it is hard to be an Atheist! There must be a strange vio­lenting of their light, where the invisible God comes so near, to make himself known by things visi­ble, and by so marvellous a conduct and ordering thereof, shew's unto the sons of men, he do's all things well. Oh, may it not be said, we cease to wonder, because every day we live and converse amongst wonders! Now it is here the world hath a demon­stration of the Scripture, that they dare not debate, lest they should deny sense, as well as reason: & if any will [Page 280] question the glorious former of all things, why things are thus ordered and disposed, let him but retire within himself and he'll find the want and defect is truly within, which he would challenge in the way of the Lord. May we not see with astonishment this frame and composure of the universe, how each thing doth answer its part, and to the conservation of the whole; how amidst a great contrariety an excellent concord is manifest, in all its different parts, natures and dis­positions! I must truly say, not only duty, but delight and pleasure may call men to this study; yea, even to lose themselves, as it were, in so sweet a labyrinth, where it is more easie to enter, than to find an out-let; and all things do witness, even to men's senses, the truth of the Scripture. It is sad, we have so choice and true a history every day to read, of the works of God, which are not in themselves greater, than that wisdom is by which they are ordered; and yet should be for the most part as a sealed book. But it is not here in a general this truth can be reached; O will you come and see! Consider the work of the Lord, and you must also see it is perfect, and his ways are judgment, yea, that he hath done all things well. Do but consider this stupendous frame of the universe, a fabrick that in all its parts is most exactly joyned, and nothing in it defective or out of order. Here you may see that great Minister of nature, the sun, with what advantage it is placed and fitted to dispense its light and refreshing influences to the earth; is it not with such wisdom, that to move in a higher or low­er orb would not thus answer the advantage of things below! with what a constant motion do's it travel betwixt the tropicks, to fulfil its annual course; and in diverse parts do's successively arise, that by turns it may give the several parts of the earth a visit! should we cease to wonder at the rising and setting thereof, because it is so frequently seen! O may not [Page 281] this arrest our thoughts with astonishment, with what wisdom it is made subservient, all along its course, to [...]ause Summer and Winter, Spring and Har­vest! Yea, how its approaches and withdrawings are gradual, that by its ascent in the spring it may dispose our bodies for the summer, and by its descent in such a degree in the harvest may prepare and fit us for the Winter, that there should not be an immediate bor­dering betwixt these extremes! Is not its correspon­dence also manifest, that it hath with things here be­low; which does not only reach the surface of the earth, but the most inward bowels & secret caverns thereof? For its power is known on minerals as well as plants. Is it not also evident, that this glorious body of the moon, though of a lesser glory than the other, is for another use than for men to gaze thereon? how it keeps them from groaping in utter darkness through the night, and lights a candle to the world, when the sun is gone down, which by its withdrawing does so far discover the glory of the moon and stars, that its brightness did vail and darken; its influence is known also upon the sea, upon seeds and plants, yea, upon the humours and complexion of men's bodies. O what innumerable employments are those, by which it is made continually subservient to the world! And do you not see, how the night hath its special use, and is well ordered as well as the day; yea, that it hath its peculiar beauty; & by its darkness doth commend the light, and makes its approach more sweet and desira­ble? This gives the labouring world some time for re­pose, and most observably answers man's weariness, and necessity of such a rest, with so fit a season, that we may say, it but draws a curtain about us for that end, and doth thus retire the earth and put it in a sweet and silent compos [...]re from the noise and hurryings of the day. Yea, does not every evening solemnly warn men of their approaching death, and the swift passing a­way [Page 282] of time, that they may have no excuse for being surprised in this great change, who have so grave, so frequent a monitor, to speak of it to them? But let us a little further follow this choice enquiry and search of nature, which is so clear a witness to the Scrip­ture; and you may see, how marvellous these va­rious motions of the heavens are, the position of the stars and constellations, where each hath its own proper course, yet all carried about to one general and common end, to shew there must be a first mover, who is not subject to motion or change, but does manifestly determine all these.—O strange! How does this great body of the earth hang upon nothing! that a thing so vast and ponderous should lean upon the air, as on a foundation! Must there not be here a piece of art above humane reach; how thus it does keep its center, & rests thereupon; & is it not clear, how steady the axis of the earth is, & perpetu­ally parallel with it self, that it cannot tumble this or that way? What a marvellous order is also seen in those higher motions of the celestial bodies? of which some are flow, others more rapid; some tend to the east, others towards the west; & yet from these, though thus cross to other, there results a singular harmony, in which the conservation of the World & production of things here below are concern'd, which could not so well have answered this; without such a variety in their courses. It is true, the Lord might have made every day a year's length, & caus'd the sun to keep its course from east to west so long: but O how well are all these things order­ed, & that thus he doth divide our life in such short sta­ges, to make us more frequently mind our change! We see likewise how marvellously the earth is fra­med in its various parts and proportions, and the sin­gular advantage it hath both in its posture and figure; the mountains and high places do not mar its beauty, nor want their use, where the beasts have a [Page 283] shelter provided; and is not nature likewise more displayed and laid open to men by the plains and vallies, which are to the earth a special ornament? How manifold is the use of the air, which fills up that vast space betwixt the heavens and earth, and is so fit a medium for correspondence betwixt the higher and lower world? It is here the birds find use for their wings; thorough this the rains find an easy pas­sage; this does interveen betwixt the sun and the earth, yet is no let to the communication either of light or heat, but its scorching is thus qualified by that sweet cool breathing of the air. Is not the singular use and advantage of the winds also known? And how these are both directed and bounded, so that men can neither cause a storm, nor a calm, at their pleasure. And O can you look on the sea, and not wonder, what marvellous things are there! how it is shut up with gates and bars, and hath its ap­pointed bounds, without which there could be no reason why a bank of sand should restrain the great Ocean from breaking forth. Its manifold use and advantage is also known: would any wish, that the whole earth were dry land? and O strange that this not only is made passable, but by that art of na­vigation become a more easy way for transport and commerce, by which cities and countries are made to flourish! Do you not see that regular course it keeps in its ebbings and flowings, the singular use and subservience of the tides; so that when men are difficulted in an inquiry a­bout the natural cause of these, they cannot but observe the special end and advantage thereof? May we not with wonder also see, how those parts of the world, which have the most scorching day and greatest heat, have usually the longest night, to qualify it with such a cooling moisture? How these countries, which have no rain, as Egypt, [Page 284] have some supply thereof by an overflowing of the ri­vers? Do you see, any members either of men, or beasts, superfluous, and wanting an use? or is there any poison, but hath some peculiar antidote provided? yea, the most hurtful creatures, as Serpents and Vipers, are found of singular use in medicine, against their own hurt, as the oyle of Scorpions is against the sting thereof. You see, the poor people have medicinal wa­ters provided without money; & it is a notable remark, which is certainly known, of one who inclosed some such well in his ground, that he might put an impost thereon, had it taken away and run dry on his hand. What a marvellous use is there of natural antipathies and sympathies, whereon the operation of medicine, the special improvement of navigation, by making use of the load-stone, doth so much depend? You see how the harvest gives a large compensation for the toil of the spring; and do not the poor man's la­bours through the day make his bed soft in the even­ing, and his rest sweet unto him? You see that cor­respondence the heavens keep with the earth in those sweet refreshing showers, by which its seminal ver­tue is drawn forth, and thus the rain doth moisten what the heat would scorch: you may see how it is distill'd and drop't down, not in violent streams, but as it were through a small sieve, or otherwise it would hurt, more than help: you would not desire to want rain, nor yet to have it perpetual, and thus it is ordered. Are not the vapours exhaled from the earth, that by refreshing showers they may return thither again? O how manifold are the works of the Lord! And in what wisdom hath he done them al [...]!—Is not the pain and travel of the beasts, in bringing forth their young, proportioned to their condition, and to that longing they have? Job. 39. 3. They how them­selves, and bring forth their young, and cast forth their sorrows. And as their time and duration is for most [Page 285] part shorter than man's, is not their growth also suted thereto? You see, men have their lodging furnisht ere they come into the World, the breasts are provided, and by a wonderful instinct they are taught to seek after the same. It is known how the want of hearing or sight useth some other way to be recompenced with some special natural sagacity: Yea, a want and defect in some parts of the body is oft supplied with a greater agility in some other members thereof; which is known in many remarkable instances; such as that woman in this country, not long since, who had no arms from her birth, but could with no less dexte­rity make use of her right foot for all the uses of her hand. You see how the beasts have some natural de­fence, and are taught self-preservation; and what the hare and hinde wants of the lion's paw and strength, is made up oft by a more swift foot; what an ad­vantagious antipathy there is amongst the beasts, lest the earth should be overrun with those which are hurtful; the dog fitted by a strange tendency of its kind, to pursue the wolf and the fox, and the cat for destroying of rats. You see how the oxen are tamed to endure the yoke, and brought under discipline, whose strength is above many of the wild beasts. Are not those things that are most absolutely necessary, most easie likewise to be had? and whilst there is such a veriety of labour and toil does attend the lot of man here, doth not the earth also afford a variety of delights? You see, the birds need no instructer to build their nests, and chuse a fit place, nor do thy mistake their seasons: yea, do not these sweet Musicians by their natural melody call men to praise, whose debt is much above theirs? Is there not a marvellous coalition betwixt the graft and the tree, which exceeds humane art, if nature did not so wonderfully co-operate therein, and in the inoculat­ing a small bud into a stock? and O that wonderful [Page 286] encrease, that follows the seed thrown into the ground! how it dies and rots there, that it may rise with the greater lustre and advantage; and by such a significant emblem teach men the certainty of the raising of their bodies. For it's sure, the ordinary things of na­ture are great and convincing Hieroglyphicks, to hold forth more divine things, if we could but read them. Do you not see what veins of coals and other minerals go through the earth? whence it is furnisht and hath fit materials for daily use, and for an improvement of men's faculties? Is not the earth watered by an inter­course which springs and rivers hath with the sea? And what some parts of the world want, is it not in other things supplied; that every country hath almost some peculiar advantages? It is known, how the coldest places of the earth, do most abound with the warmest furs. You see the beasts want not their table: and is not the lilly well clothed? Doth the grass of the ground want its use? Yea, is not the very co­lour thereof notably suted for men's eyes? What cause of wonder is there of the different forms, the vertues and variety of plants; You see, the little ants have their magazine and storehouse; the bees want not some order and government; yea, no human skill can frame such work as theirs is. But, O Man! what a curious and exquisite fabrick is that which did come in amongst the last of the creation, but as the greatest wonder thereof, a most rare piece of work, of a strange various and subtile composition, in which there is so notable an harmony made up of many contraries! I think, those who would learn Atheism, are not only concern'd to stifle their reason, but to shut their eyes from looking on themselves and the frame of their bodies, which is so curiously wrought with nerves, sinews and veins, with such a variety of parts, and yet not one bone or Muscle superfluous.(¶)

[Page 287]

THE FOURTH ARGUMENT

I shall here offer to prove the Scriptures accom­plishment, is this, That whereof the most part, as to those special predictions and promises that concern the Church, is fulfilled, and hath new taken place in their appointed times, which we may at this day clearly read in the event, and but a little part thereof now remain [...]h to be made out, must be a sure truth. But the Scripture is thus fulfilled, and the prophecies thereof [...] made legible in the history of providence, and in the works of God about his Church. Therefore, &c.

I would premise here some few things, ere I [...] particularly to this argument.

1. Though the Scripture is thus wonderfully suited by the Lord, and taketh place in every generation, as if it were alone directed to that time; yet it is also clear, that a special part thereof hath its proper accom­plishment in those ages and periods of time, to which it doth in a peculiar way relate: some part of it, which did concern the times of the Old Testament, some that doth also answer to the times of the Gos­pel, and a part of it which hath a peculiar respect to these latter days, which the Lord is now bringing forth, and we wait for a more full accomplishment, that it is on a near approach.

2. It is also sure, that the whole work of God, and his providence about his Church here in the World, which was perfect from the beginning, and before him from eternity, is comprehended under the writ­ten word; where the Lord hath fully revealed his mind and counsel about every event and concern­ment of the Church; though we oft be in the dark, in finding out the same, but the event will in due time speak for it self, which should cause us until then [Page 288] with much sobriety to pass our judgment on some of those truths, that are not yet fulfilled.

3. It is clear, that the Prophets of old did not only foretel such great changes and revolutions, as were to go over the Church's head, and declare the certainty thereof, but we find these prophecies oft point at the times and periods of time, whereto they did relate; and though sometimes in dark terms, yet did clearly shew that there was a certain prefixed time, and not at every time could they have their perfor­mance.

4. We should consider how the full accomplishing of the Scripture, and the perfecting the Lord's work about his Church, will be at once, and doth keep pace together, and then shall a full and satisfying dis­covery of God's way and providence and all that he hath been doing in the World, clearly break forth, when the great mystery of God in his written word is finished, and the Church so near to land.

That I may speak a little to so grave a subject, I would lay down these two things to be considered.

1. How much of the Scripture, and predictions thereof, may be now seen clearly verified in the event.

2. What doth yet remain to have an accomplish­ment in these last times; by which we may certainly judge, how near the Lord's work about his Church is to a close. Under the first I shall point at some of those most concerning events and changes, which the Church hath met with, wherein we may see what of the Scripture may at this day be read in the history of providence, and is certainly fulfilled.

The first thing to be considered, is,—WHAT IS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED.

I. Let us go back to those first times after the fall; and see that dreadful stroke, which came upon the old [Page 289] World by the flood, after an universal defection from God, and we shall there find the fulfilling of that which Noah, that great Preacher of righteousness, had oft fore­told, and of those threatnings which by Moses were there recorded: Wherein it may be very manifest, (1.) That this truth, besides Divine authority, no re­cords of ancient Times (no antiquity) could ever con­tradict; yea, some of the eldest writers do clearly witness something of an universal deluge over the earth, with the strange preservation of some from it, how­ever they were in the dark as to many circumstances of it. Josephus doth cite Berosus the Caldears about this, who without doubt had then some of those oldest records true and uncorrupt. Eusebius also doth mention some fragments of Abidenus, and App [...]idorus, which in his time were extant, clearly pointing at the flood, and at Noah under the name of Ziuthrus, with his sending out of birds to see if the waters were asswaged.—(2.) There is nothing here doth contradict reason, how this might be brought about, even in the way of ordinary natural causes, which the Lord did make use of for that end. For we find, the windows of Heaven were opened, the air being condensed into clouds, and their retentive power loosed, these great floodgates were thus set open; which falling not in drops, but all in a full bo­dy, like the spouts and cataracts of the West-Indies, might soon overwhelm, the earth with abundance of water; while those fountains also of the great deep be­neath were broken up, which was not only the O­cean let forth to go over its banks, but an universal vent to all the veins of the earth, and that great mass of waters which is in the bowels thereof, which from beneath meeting those that were from above, may give men a clear and rational account how such a thing might be.—(3.) This piece of the Scripture is most congruous and agreable to the whole, and the [Page 290] great scope and drift of the same. For it points out an universal defection, and an universal stroke meeting together: it leads us forward to Christ, of whom the ark was an excellent shadow, and of that salva­tion which in and by him the Church hath from eternal wrath: and is a very manifest pledge and sign of that last destruction of the World, which though not in that manner, yet shall once surely be, and find men in such a condition, as this flood found them into in the days of Noah.

(¶) II. What we find expresly threatned by the Lord (Gen. 11. 7.) as a stroke and judgment upon men for their ambition and pride, The confounding of their languages, is it not also most clearly verified and writ forth to the view of the world in the event? that whilst men cannot deny or debate a thing which is so conspicuous and undeniable, they must also see a fulfilling of the Scripture, and that there was a di­vine hand in this strange stroke; which may be a con­vincing refutation of Atheism, if such do not wil­lingly shut their eyes at these clear evidences.—(1.) That it is sure, there is such a confusion and variety of languages in the earth at this day; whence it is divided, one part thereof so much rent from another, commerce and correspondence thus made difficult, and a bar drawn betwixt nations, by a different speech. And do not the most ancient re­cords of the world witness the same to have been in former ages?—(2.) It is also sure, that no tradition or humane history, but the Scripture only, gives us an account of this strange thing how it should be, or whence its true rise is; yea, those who have writ most of other things, yet can give no reason why they write in one language more than in another, but that it is proper to their country, where they had their e­ducation. But how the race of men, who have such [Page 291] a community in other things, should be thus divided, is indeed a mystery, which divine truth can only unvail and shew its meaning.—(3.) It is sure, there is no lan­guage one more than another, that is natural to men, but what ex institutio is acquired, whether by long continued use as children doth their mother tongue, or by set rules. It is true, Adam who was the first man, had his by some extraordinary infusion: but it is found a pi­tiful fancy alledged by some, that young children, who have never heard speech, and have been thus kept at a distance, would speak the first language of the world, and consequently Hebrew; for the contrary of this is certainly prov'd.—(4.) Is not this confusion and diversity of languages, which is in the world, a most strange and marvellous thing, which in no ordi­nary way, yea not without something of a miracle, could be brought about, and to no continuance of time or invention of men can be attributed, if we consider these things.—(1.) It is clear, that if man can be traced back to some original and beginning, there must then have been some one language, whilst the world was but in a family; so that if you will ad­mit the truth of the creation, you may see it was not so at the beginning.—(2.) Is it not undeniable, that men could not chuse so great a plague and judgment on themselves, if they had any use of reason? which would divide betwixt them and the greater part of mankind, hinder trade and mutual inter­change with other countrys, either in exporting or importing most necessary commodities; that which also would obstruct humane knowledge, and the discovery of those excellent inventions and experi­ments of other places; yea, give man, whose days are so few, such a sore toyl and labour to acquire but a few of those many different languages, which are in the world.—(3.) Is it not also clear, that this is above human reach, which men cannot judge, how in an [Page 292] ordinary way such different languages could have been found out, and afterwards acquired by the body of nations, yea, how there should be such an agree­ment in this amongst a vast multitude of different tem­pers and capacities. For it is obvious, there should have then been an inventing of those first radical langua­ges; I mean these that are not dependant upon, or interwoven one with another, but are wholly diffe­rent as Greek, Latin, &c: And therewith such a vast Dictionary, of words with their significations, and rules to enjoin them in sentences, must have ne­cessarily been framed, and abandoning also and tur­ning off of some former language, so far as to the bringing of it in oblivion: yea, would the universal consent and concurrence of the multitude in such pla­ces be required? I confess, this were not so strange, if such a difference betwixt Languages were but in some peculiar mode or propriety of phrases, and al­teration of words according to the various tempers, and climates of the earth: but we may see what dif­ferent languages there are, wholly independant on one another, not only in original words, but in the very whole frame and bulk, which can be no compound of other languages, as many of our modern tongues are, which does truly state the case in such a manner, that the Scripture only can resolve how this should be; yea, it is known, besides many branches, com­mixtures and variations of languages, which through continuance of time, thro' conquest and mingling of nations together, are in the World, there is also a vast number of those that may be on clearest ground judged original and mother-tongues, of which (whatever lesser variation there hath been by the ad­ding of some new words, or the quitting of old, yet the whole bulk does remain intire.—(4) What a strange and marvellous thing m [...]st this be, if we consider that most of ancient maternal languages were previ­ous [Page 293] to the use of letters, whence rules or a method could be conveyed from one to another, if it had been only some humane invention? For we may know from surest antiquity, how long it was ere several na­tions reached a further way to communicate know­ledge, and represent their conceptions, than by speech and a vocal tradition, or some significant symbols or Hieroglyphicks, which were then much in use to supply the want of letters. Is it not know how little either by pen or printing hath been discovered to the World, but of such late time, as is from clearest histories written to us? Thence we find very little of the Greek language upon record before Homer's time. Now may not this clearly demonstrate, that in an or­dinary way these languages could not then have been acquired?—(5) It may be very convincing, what the Scripture about this holds forth, that by these different languages, nations and families were at first divided. Genes. 11. yea, that this was the first rise of bounding one of them from another, for which the World could never give another cause. Thus did the Lord inclose his Church in Israel; and by this diversity of languages did out-law the rest of the earth; for there was that venerable first language of the Hebrew kept up, by which these sacred oracles of the Old Testament were made known. I shall further add. Is not a divine hand eminently seen in this? that so great a bar, which for so long a time was betwixt the Church and the world, should not only at last be taken off, but such a curse turn'd into a blessing; that the power of God and his very immediate work in spreading the light amongst so many people of a strange language, might now under the gospel be more conspicuous, that once such an interdiction hath been served on the world thereby, to shut the nations out from the Church: for we may say, there hath been as signal a miracle in the gift of [Page 294] tongues under the New Testament, as there was for­merly in the confusion thereof. (¶)

III. What we have expresly promised in the word of the Church's delivery from Egypt, and was foretold by Joseph at his death, that God would surely bring back his People out of that land, for which he left his bones to lie unburied as a pledge thereof, hath now many ages past been fulfilled. It is long since that remarkable day, when God made a way for his Peo­ple through the red sea, and his power known upon Pharoah, and the Egyptians; since Moses with the Church did sing that triumphant song, The horse and his rider he hath cast in the sea. Wherein these things are most clear,—

1. That this was a deed known and publick in the time; which was not done in a corner, but in the view of the World, and before all the Children of Israel, and by them attested, and with greatest care­fulness transmitted to their children, and by these to the following generations, as a thing never to be for­gotten.

2. Was testified by Moses, so great a person, and eye witness thereof; one whom even the most anci­ent of heathen writers do mention with much respect, and in this did never challenge his testimony, though a matter of fact, and of that moment, which all the nations about could not but know, and both in the present and after-ages have the remembrance thereof kept up; so that they might easily refute such a thing, if false. And we may judge, the Egyptians and many others could want no good will to put dis­grace on a People, they so much hated, nor be igno­rant of that which Moses published in his own time; to whose works some of the ancientest heathen writers do shew they have been no strangers.

[Page 295] 3. A truth, which by Moses was put in record, and this delivered to the Jews to be kept by them and their children in all succeeding ages: a record, which they did so narrowly look to, and had in that reve­rence and esteem, that all the syllables and letters thereof were by them numbred, lest in the smallest point it should be wronged; yea, were more care­ful to preserve it than any nation can be of their most concerning rights, and charters.

4. A thing, whereof the remembrance was yearly from that time celebrated by the Jewish Church: whence the institution of the passover had its rise; that deliverance being as a sign and sacramental pledge of that great salvation by him who is our true passover.

IV. What is held forth in the Scripture con­cerning the more full growth of the Jewish Church; that Judah should enjoy a Scepter, which was fore­told by dying Jacob; and promised once and again to Abraham by the Lord, that his seed should be as the sand of the sea, and enjoy Canaan for an inheri­tance; hath it not long since been fulfi [...]led? Where­in these things are clear,—

1. That for many ages Israel did enjoy that land in a most flourishing condition; which doth in part ap­pear from those very ruins and desolations, over which they have so long lamented, the glory of Jerusalem, and the Temple once so famous, which causeth such reverence amongst them to the very rubbish thereof at this day.

2. That they were once a people by themselves, who were not mingled with the Nations but kept at a distance, by their Religion and Laws, from [Page 296] the rest of the World, as a peculiar people to the Lord is a Thing undeniable.

3. That whilst they enjoyed it, there was a singu­lar blessing of fruitfulness thereon above other places; so as that small piece of ground was enough for an innumerable multitude of inhabitants; but the same is now at this day a barren land, an extraordinary curse no less seen thereon, than the blessing was in for­mer times.

4. It is also evident, that something in the way, and carriage of this people, even in their low wan­dering condition, doth discover they have not forgot what once they were, nor their former grandeur and flourishing, but still keep by themselves, with some respect to their own land, which their fathers did enjoy.

V. That piece of the Scripture, which did concern the declining times of the Church under the Old Testa­ment, what Jeremiah foretold of the Babylonish Cap­tivity, hath now many ages since been fulfilled: a truth, which we have attested by sacred history, an history which doth clearly justify itself and its authority by such convincing marks thereof, that we may say those who do seriously converse with the word, cannot take up Atheism without the laying down of reason, and putting a Force upon their own light.

Now as to this particular prophecy we would but seriously consider,—

1. That which Jeremiah did foretell about the cap­tivity, was not its accomplishment put on record in a book of the Church's lamentations? Where this truth may be read in her tears; and truly such as e­ver knew grief in a high measure, may easily know what is there exprest, to be sad earnest, and read the lively motions of an afflicted case herein. And be­sides [Page 297] hath not this been witnessed to after-ages by a vi­sible monument, even the destruction of the Temple, that great and excellent work, which tho' after rebuilt did never attain its former splendor.

2. This was a matter of fact of great note, and famous in the time, done in the view of all the nati­ons, a considerable piece of the Babylonish conquest a yea, that testimony the Scripture beareth to the same, was it not a few ages after made publick to other parts of the world by the Septuagint translation, so that it had been easy for Ptolemy or any in that time to have discovered the falshood of a thing so lately done: yet, those times, nor the most professed enemies to the Church therein, could not in the least contradict the same.

3. Though much of humane History, and those records of ancient times that we now have, are both corrupt and defective, yet there wants not some consent, from the surest of these, to many of the most observable things that we have of the history of the old testament; and as to the certainty of this truth, besides its own authority, we shall find some of these oldest Writers, Berosus, Herodot, and Xeno­phon, give some light to the same, whose witness the Atheist cannot challenge; yea, is it not clear that Josephus, not only from sacred history, but from these old records and fragments of former times, which were then extant (tho' since have been much lost) composed his Jewish antiquities, which give so particular a relation of this truth.

VI. What was foretold by Daniel concerning the rise and fall of the Monarchies, and change of those great Empires, which had been so sore a rod upon the Church, hath it not many ages past had a most punc­tual performance? It is now long since that great I­mage shewed to the Prophet in a vision, hath been [Page 298] brought down and broken, so that scarce the toes thereof do now remain: which, besides the Scrip­ture, may be clearly demonstrated upon other rational grounds.

1. It's being granted, that the Prophecy of Daniel was translated in Greek, and laid up in that great li­brary of Alexandria, long before much of it was ful­filled, before Antiochus Epiphanes, and the rising of the Roman Empire, of which Porphyrius could not be ignorant, though all he could answer to that evident agreement betwixt his Prophesie and the e­vent was, that it must have been writ after these things were accomplished; whilest it is clear, that a part of the Prophecy of Daniel, which concern­ed the fourth Monarchy, was not even in his times fully made out, yea we must say, something thereof doth reach to the last end of time.

2. It is also undeniable, that in these great re­volutions of the Monarchies there is a discernable consent and harmony betwixt the Scripture, and these ancient records, which we yet have of those times: so that not only the things themselves, but some of the most observable circumstances there­of, which are particularly mentioned by Daniel, we may read in Xenophen, Herodot, and Diodorus Siculus.

3. It must also be granted, that some things which in Daniel's Prophesie would seem most strange and improbable, such as Belshazar's death in that very night the hand writing was shewed to him, may be particularly understood in Xenophon's history; how Cyrus took the advantage of the Babylonian security, whilest they were in the midst of a solemn Feast, and by diverting the channel of Euphrates did enter the city without opposition; also how that great horn of the high goat was so suddenly broken, and the com­ming up of four in his room, which by Daniel are [Page 299] expounded of the Grecian Monarchy, and the di­viding of that Empire after Alexander's death, is it not punctually held forth by all the histories of that time?

4. Was there not a very convincing appearance of a divine hand, both in the rise and fall of these Monarchies, and an extraordinary providence which we cannot but see, when we read these histories, that surely something above ordinary means and second causes was both in Cyrus's conquest over the Baby­lonians, and the marvellous swift progress and success of Alexander against the Persians.

VII. That which was the great scope of all Pro­phesies under the Old Testament, The coming of the Messias, is surely verified, and now many ages past hath had an accomplishment. The Lord is come unto his Temple, even he whose day Abraham and the Saints under the law did long after: this was the most happy and notable crisis, that ever the Church was under, the great Epocha and period of time, from which she doth now reckon. We know, this is no fable, or cunning device of man, that God was manifested in the flesh, did make his abode for some time in the earth, suffered at Jerusalem in the view of the World, before many witnesses, did arise from death on the third day, was seen and known by his Disciples thereafter, and having finished the work for which he came, was received up again into glory.

This is indeed a great truth, which concerneth us no less to know, and be sure of, than our soul is worth, and our interest through eternity: the fulfilling whereof, besides the authority of sacred writ, the witness and records of the Evangelists and Apostles of Jesus Christ, who testify what they certainly knew, is a truth which from such convincing rational [Page 300] grounds may be demonstrated, that the greatest height of Atheism knoweth not how to state it self in a direct opposition to the same. And truly in this, we may say, the Lord hath so tendered the strengthning of his people's faith and their encouragement, that as it is the most concerning promise of the Scripture, on which our whole hope and blessedness depends, so is it also most clear and conspicuous in the event. I shall but only touch this, whereof so much hath been said by others.

1. It is undeniable, the Messias was to come: to whom all the sacrifices under the Law, those ancient types and shadows, did clearly point; to whom the Prophets bear witness; and it was the faith of the ancient Jewish Church, of which promise they were perswaded, even whilst they saw it but a far off, yea, did embrace it and repose themselves thereon. And is there not a most clear and exact portraicture drawn forth under the Old Testament, of the Messias; what an one he should be, and by what peculiar charac­ters he should be known, who was to be revealed to Israel?

2. The special season, and period of time, wherein Christ should come, we find prefixed and shewed to the ancient Church: which, though under some figurative expressions seemed then dark, yet was so far revealed, that upon diligent a search and en­quiry, and particular collation of the times, it might be easy to discern the Messiah's coming and near approach. Of which salvation the Prophets did enquire, 1 Pet. 1. 10. And truly the fall of the Mo­narchies, and right understanding of Daniel's weeks, were sure and solid grounds for a clear compu­tation. Thence was it, that so general an ex­pectation of the Messias was among the Jews, at that very time when he came; so as divers impostors did arise, who in the People were ready to follow; and [Page 301] we see with what amazement the Pharisees did in­quire at John the Baptist, if he were the Christ, or not; yea, Josephus sheweth how the perswasion of this did most excite that People to war with the Romans from the prophecies they had in holy writ, that from Judea should about that time come he who was to be Emperor of the World.

3. It is also sure, there was such an one, who in the days of Tiberius, and under the reign of Herod, was made manifest to Israel: and came with no out­ward shew and observation, but did great and marvellous things before all the People; was cruci­fied at Jerusalem, under Pontius Pilate; and not­withstanding the ignominy of his death, was after ado­red, and followed, both by many of the Jews and the Gentiles; whose doctrine did also in short time spread through the World: a truth, which the greatest adversaries of the Gospel have ever confessed, and do attest the history thereof, de facto, to be a faithful re­lation. Not only Jews, but the heathen writers, Sue­tonius, Tacitus, and Plinius the younger, that lived near, and some of them contemporary with the Times of the Apostles, do witness that this JESUS, whom the Christians worship, did truly suffer in the time of Pilate's jurisdiction over the Jews.

4. Is it not clear, how this appearance of Christ to the World did exactly fall in with the very time, foretold by the Prophets therefor? Was not Jacob's prophecy thus accomplished? For until that time it is clear, the royal line of David's house did not cease, until Herod a stranger came to reign, by whom it was utterly cut off. And it is manifest, those 70 weeks mentioned by Daniel, must be understood of years; else they could admit no other sense: which reckoning from the decree given out by Cyrus, to rebuild the temple, are 490 Years, and doth answer [Page 302] to the very time of Christ being in the World, and his death, which necessarily falls in the last of these weeks, a thing so manifest, that Porphyrius an avowed enemy to the Christian Religion, could have no answer, but that this prophecy had been devised after the event: which I am sure; the Jews, though as direct adversaries, would be loath to admit.

5. It is most clear, that in him, who at that time was revealed to Israel and whom the Christian Church doth this day worship, was exactly accomplished whatever was by the Prophets told concerning the Messias. And it is no small advantage for the Christian cause, that it needs but appeal to those records, which have been kept in the hands of her adver­saries, where there is so clear a portraicture of him held forth, as to his person, his way of coming, the place whence, the entertainment he should have, and his death, that I must think it a contradiction to reason, men should acknowledge the Old Tes­tament, and not grant the New; since it is clear, the Jews, look for no other Messias, than such an one as is held out by the Prophets, and they acknow­ledge also the divine authority of Isaiah, Daniel, Micah Malachi, &c. who do by such clear marks point him forth, and shew the Church how they should know him when he cometh. For truly it may thence appear, that it is not more certain, the Messias should come, than that Jesus Christ is he. I would but seriously ask, what do the Jews this day miss in our blessed Lord Jesus, which the Old Testa­ment alloweth them to expect in the Messias! Is it that he came not with outward shew and glory? sure, according to the Scripture, such an one we ought not to acknowledge; no, should he not be the seed of the woman (Gen. 2.) who should be born of a virgin, as, Isaiah sheweth: his voice not heard in the streets; despised and rejected of men, a man of [Page 303] sorrows? Such an one, as was shadowed out under the Law, who should be made a sacrifice for sin; yea, come with no outward pomp, but meek and lowly, and riding upon an ass, was to be betrayed, and sold (and his price shewed by Zachariah) for 30 pieces; a crucified dying Christ, that should be wound­ed in the house of his friends, and cut off from amongst the children of his People! O! can men possibly deny so clear an accomplishment of these in our blessed Lord?

6. Is it not undeniable, that the Jews now, in their present case, cannot possibly expect the accomplish­ment of this promise; that the Messias cannot this day come, according to the Scripture, except they could be put in such a condition, as they were in then at Christ's coming? Certainly it is impossible, that the Old Testament be ever fulfilled about this, if it be not already. Can he come forth out of Beth­lehem, whilst now no such place is known by that name? Can he come into his Temple, that is utterly destroyed? Is there not now a subversion of the Tribes, and the family of David not known at this day? Yea, are not the gentiles brought in, whom Isaiah sheweth should be gathered under the standard of the Messias? Doth not the daily sacrifice cease? which, the Jews will confess, hath been so for many ages; and this was to be after his coming. And I would ask, how was that ever fulfilled, that the glory of the second Temple should exceed the glory of the first? for this cannot be on the account of its structure, or outward magnificence; sure there is nothing, wherein this glory could appear, but as it points at Christ, and the breaking out of that glorious light, which was before its destruction.

7. There is an innumerable company, who have embraced the Gospel, and received the spirit by the mi­nistry thereof, since the times of the Apostles, who [Page 304] have put this seal thereto in all ages, that it is the pow­er and wisdom of God. And truly without par­tial respect (which the consciences of the worst of men have been forced to justify) it may be said, these were the excellent of the earth in their time: many of greatest outward parts and abilities, whose mo­ral integrity and candour was beyond question even with their adversaries; and these both of Jews and Gentiles, of all ranks of men, of all nations and lan­guages; who not only by a naked profession, but by their walk and sufferings did shew forth the pow­er and vertue of a crucified Christ; yea, shine as lights whilst they were in the World, to the convic­tion of spectators. And is not this a convincing wit­ness to the truth of the Gospel, which its enemies cannot possibly deny?

8. That excellent doctrine, delivered to the Church in the New Testament, by Christ and his Apostles, doth it not clearly shew whence it is, and witness its own authority? For here we may see a manifest agree­ment betwixt this and the doctrine of the ancient Jewish Church; that as the five Books of Moses hold forth the sum of the Gospel, the Covenant of grace, and that mystery of Salvation by Christ, so the Prophets do carry it on with further clearness, and the Evangelists bring it forward: like an excel­lent edifice that is founded and advanced in the one, but perfected in the other: all breathing the same spirit, with a convincing tendency to the same end. So that we may say the old Jews under the Law were in effect Christians, and the followers of Christ now under the Gospel in some re­spect are Jews; being one in the substantials of their religion. For it is clear, that poor Apostate people now of the Jewish nation hath wholly departed from their own doctrine, and will not come to the light, that they may be judged according to the Old [Page 305] Testament. Now in this I would seriously attest the adversaries of the Gospel, if paganism, the Turks Alcoran, or Jewish Talmud hold forth any such doc­trine or rule as that which the Christian Religion doth! such pure, and excellent precepts, to restrain the inordinacy of corrupt affection, backed with argu­ments becoming an immortal soul; a doctrine so sin­cere, solid, and rational, so consistent with it self, and agreable to the true scope and drift thereof, which holds forth the most exquisite rule of perfection, for men to press after; yea, where every page and line breatheth forth holiness towards God, and righteousness and humanity towards man!

9. I shall add, those clear convincing evidences of the truth of the Gospel, which did attend the first publishing thereof were so manifest and undeniable a seal from the Lord, as may force the greatest Atheist to silence. For,—(1.) They were Jews as much con­cerned in the Religion of their Fathers as any, who did first publish the Gospel; none more zealous ac­cording to the Law, than Paul was before his conver­sion; none also could challenge their driving an outward interest hereby, since persecution and bonds, yea, greatest hazard was that which they must expect.—(2.) It is clear, they walked by no rule of human policy, nor those ordinary ways of insinu­ation which the World doth use, to engage men, and make a party to themselves: but did deliver the truth, truth most repugnant to the flesh and its interests, with greatest candour and simplicity, though likewise with a convincing authority and confidence; yea, came with a message to the World, which had no other convoy, or perswading argu­ment, but the evidence of its own truth, yet withal such a power accompanying the same, before which men could not stand.—(3.) What is published concern­ing Christ by the Evangelists, the great works he [Page 306] did, his dying at Jerusalem with all the stupendous circumstances thereof and signs from Heaven, was not a thing done in a corner, but in the publick view of men, which in those days was most known and famous: but yet there cannot be produced one con­tradictory testimony, to the truth of these relations, by any adversary of the Gospel, either at that time, or since. Sure the World wanted no malice, and these great things were early published by the Evange­lists and Apostles, whilest much of that generation was alive; yet it is clear, though in a matter of that concernment, which made then so great a noise, and was at that time putting the earth all in a flame, none was found either among Jews or gentiles, who could or durst put forth a manifesto, to discover the least cheat or falshood in those things attested in the History of the Gospel.—(4.) Whatever different parties and sects did break out with the first time of the Church, to oppose the truth in other things, yet in this they had all one consent, that he who was crucified at Jerusalem, was the Messias, and Christ. Which truly did witness the clear irresistible manifestation of this truth in those times; since, if there could have been the least ground to challenge any imposture or deceit in this great foundation of the Christian faith, it is more than probable, those bitter contentions, followed with such animosity and heat and irritation, of those whom the Apostles and Church in that time did with much zeal and sharpest cen­sures pursue, would have engaged them to put all the disgrace upon the truth, which they could, if they might have had where to fasten their teeth. I would further add, that even the arguments and objections, which the adversaries of the Gospel could ever bring, to oppose the same, are indeed a convincing witness and confirmation, and shew how little they could any way say, in giving their malice a vent. We find [Page 307] that absurd allegation of the Jews, that the great works Christ did in the days of his flesh, were by stealing the name JEHOVAH out of the templ [...], which they alledge he sewed up in his thigh: which truly needeth no further refutation but the reciting thereof. And here they are even forced to witness the truth of those relations held forth by the Evangelists, as to the matter of fact, which we find also these later Atheists, such as Vanninus, Cardan, &c. dare not challenge or debate: only they would ascribe these great works which Christ then wrought, to the influence of the stars; a challenge so absurd, that needs no other answer but to relate it.

VIII. We have that remarkable Prophecy of the incoming of the Gentiles, a truth indeed great and marvellous, which is expresly held forth in the Old Testament (Is. 54. 1, 2. Is. 60. 3, 9.) is a thing so clearly now written forth in the event, that I am sure, the grea­test Athests can have no shift here; but must own that in this strange work of God about his Church, the Scripture hath an undeniable accomplishment. Now to clear this let us but consider,—

1. That for many ages this truth about the incal­ling of the gentiles was sealed up in a prophecy; a thing so great and astonishing to the ancient Jewish Church, that they could not well comprehend the same, until once the event brought it forth. For this was indeed a mystery hid from ages, how the Gen­tiles should be fellow-heirs, of the same body, and Partakers of the promise in Christ; when the bounds and extent of the Church did not exceed Judea, that small inclosure, whilest the whole World beside did lie buried, like an outfield, in dark Paganism. For it is well known, that the most pleasant places of Africa, Asia, and Europe, where afterwards many famous [Page 308] Churches were, within these 1600 years was but a savage wilderness: Britain, Germany and France, did then worship the sun and stars, they sacrificed to the Gods of the heathens; yea, those eastern parts on which the sun did first rise, did not then know th [...] God of Israel: a truth, which not only the Roman and Grecian Histories, but the records of particular Nations can clearly attest.

2. It is clear, that this prophecy was not held forth only in general; but we find the time also prefixed (with other special circumstances) when it should have its accomplishment, at the appearing of the Messias. He should be revealed to Israel; before which time a bar was drawn in the way of the Nations, and a wall of partition betwixt them and the Church, until he stand up who should hold forth an ensign to the People, and gather the Gentiles under his standard; which Isaiah doth clearly shew, Is. 11. 10. and 34. 1, 2. and 60. 1. &c. And then must the mountains flow down at his presence, Nations be born at once; yea, the light break forth to the East and the West; then should the Children of the deso­late be more then of the married wife, when this time even the set time for the gentiles is once come. And it may be very convincing, which is most observable, that notwithstanding of a more flourishing condition of the Jewish Church in former ages, when her grandeur and prosperity was more tempting, and the neighbourhood and commerce which the Na­tions about had with that People, yea, though by the captivity they were scattered among the Persians and Babylonians; yet was there no such stir or change of the World, until the appointed time once came.

3. It may be easy to prove the event of this pro­phecy, and its manifest accomplishment, even at the time thereof. For this men cannot deny, [Page 309] that the Lord did visit the Gentiles with the know­ledge of his truth: Which then caused such a change in the earth, as a great part of it hath been brought from heathenish idolatry, to worship the God of Israel; and such who once were strangers and aliens, now made to profess the same faith (as to the substance thereof) of the ancient Jewish Church. Sure this truth needs not want a witness, whilst Nations and much of the known World have been for so long a time, and yet to this day are, a visible proof thereof; a truth of such concernment, that in former ages made a great and stupendous change up­on the face of the earth, so that not only an innu­merable company out of all Nations and languages, but the generality, the very complex body of King­doms and Nations can bear Witness thereto. And now the Gospel hath been preached through much of the World; yea, we may say, there are few parts there­of, where there hath not been some face of a Church: Though the promise hath not yet had it's full accom­plishment, but we wait for (according to the Scrip­ture) a more flourishing time, and great harvest among the Nations, when Israel shall be gathered: however, it is sure, the Lord hath in a great part ful­filled this his promise, so that the Church might then with astonishment cry out, Who hath begotten all these Children! Who are these that flee as a cloud, like the doves to their Windows! O blessed day, in which the light did first break forth on the poor off­spring of Japhet, who then dwelt in the shadow and region of death! O blest day, that brought salvation with it to the Gentiles, wherein the Lord did visit those dark places of the earth, which were full of the habitations of cruelty. I think, the sense of so great a mercy should never let us want an errand for giving thanks, yea, put much to silence our other com­plaints.

[Page 310] 4. It is not only as to the time, but those very places of the earth, which Esaias & other of the Pro­phets did particularly point at, this promise had an exact accomplishment? For it is this day manifest, as to the Isles, which we find so frequently mentioned, that these should wait for his Law, & the uttermost parts of the earth, whence he should bring the Daughter of his dispersed, we may get a clear commentary upon the same, from what the Lord hath done to Britain and Ireland, with other remote parts of the earth: yea, have not AEthiopians been made to stretch out their hands even in those sun-burnt places of Africa? Hath not Christ also had a conquest, where many a [...]lack-moor was through grace made as the snow of Salmon, and the feathers of a dove? So that it is clear, how these particular places, which were so oft pointed at by the Prophets, have been visited by the Gospel, and fallen to the share of the Church.

5. This change, which by the incoming of the gen­tiles to the Church was wrought upon the Earth, is a thing so great and astonishing, that were it still in the promise, and this not yet fulfilled, it would truly staggar our Faith, how such a thing should ever come to pass: and is there not here a miracle, that that the World cannot possibly deny? (Even this great work of God in bringing in of the gentiles, which without an extraordinary power, could not be effect­ed) if men will consider—(First) That swift pro­gress which then the Gospel had: how it did run, and was glorified, through the furthest parts of the earth, and like lightning break forth from one place to another; so that in the Apostles time, the Scrip­ture doth shew, how most of the conspicuous Provin­ces of Asia had received the Gospel; and Tertul­lian who lived in the second Century (in his Book contra Judaeos) doth there witness how many nations, and these most remote from other, Parthians, [Page 311] Medes, Armenia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Pamphilia, with much of Egypt, and diverse parts of Africa, besides Rome, Spain, and other places of Europe, were in his time almost wholly Christian. For it is indeed clear, that the bounds of the Church was then of a larger extent, than it is now at this day.—(2.) It is also undeniable, that in this solemn day of the Gospel's spreading amongst the nati­ons, suffering and persecution did all that time at­tend the Church; yea, in such a measure, that as the writers of those times do witness, neither famine, pesti­lence, nor the sword did destroy so many of the World, as then were of Christians in the two first centuries put to death for adhering to the truth: and it is clear, that this great work of God, in such a swift spreading of the Church, was most discernable in those times of hottest persecution; yea, then was her most effectual growth and increase, which upon her getting some rest, and beginning to flourish with external peace, was at a visible stand.—(3.) How mar­vellous a thing was this, to be brought about, if we consider the many different languages, that did then stop Correspondence between the Church and the rest of the Earth. For how could the truth thus spread among the nations, yea, in such remote pla­ces of the World Churches be planted by the Apos­tles, and have the Scripture translated, and made legi­ble to them; without that extraordinary Gift of Tongues, which for that end was then given from the Lord? Sure, beside sacred authority in this matter, reason may convincingly witness to the World the truth of such a miracle.—(4.) How strange & wonder­ful a change was this, that in so short a time the Gospel should thus enlighten and put such a lustre on the most rude and savage places of the earth, where scarce humanity had been, and bring them from the condition of beasts, to be men; should thus tame and [Page 312] civilize the greatest Barbarians, and cause the lion to ly down with the lamb, yea, by the preaching of that Gospel, and of a crucified Christ, which as it was to the Jews a stumbling block, so to the Greeks foolishness!

And in a word, was not this indeed a miracle, how in a matter of such high concernment as that wherein mens souls and everlasting interest lay, they should be turned off from their old [...]ay and religion, in which they and their Fathers had been so long rooted; and that a little spark which did break out in Judea, should bring down the idols of the nations, and burn up their temples!

Alass, that there is so little of a large heart, of that primitive zeal and fervour this day among Christi­ans for the enlargement of the Church! that such mer­chants are now rare, who would venture out to trade with other parts, for this excellent ware, the mer­chandise whereof is better than of gold! O that in these parts where the truth is known and professed the Lord would raise up men of such a spirit, & such a Magistrate, who would make it their work, and lay down solid grounds how to advance the Kingdom of Christ in the dark places of the earth, and reckon their interest in a foreign plantation upon the account of the Gospel, no less than on the account of trade! we would pray, and yet hope for this.

IX. What we find foretold by Daniel, yea, by Christ himself, about the destruction of Jerusalem, and ceasing of the Jewish daily sacrifice, with the rejection of that people, (Dan. 12. 11. Math. 24. 2.) hath many ages ago come to pass, wherein the World may see how clearly the event doth answer this Prophecy. For it is manifest,

1. That this is a truth which doth need no other witness, than the scattered remnant and desolate [Page 313] ruins of that once flourishing Church and nation of the Jews, which we see with our eyes at this day whose present state is so great a monument of divine judgment, so clear a witness to the Scripture, that I think men cannot look thereon, if they be in any measure serious, but must have such a conviction.

2. What hath befallen this people, may it not be an astonishment to the World in all succeeding ages! A stroke, that hath put them in a more sad condition than any nation or people we ever yet heard of! Tha [...] cast them out of their own land, and scattered them as vagabonds through the earth, so that these many ages they have had no scepter nor law-giver, no piece of the earth they can call their own, but at the mercy and arbitrary disposal of every place they reside in; no priviledge, or liberties, but a naked permission to possess their lives and estates during the pleasure of those under whom they get shelter! A people put by themselves with a visible mark of divine wrath upon them, like a beacon set up for all the nations to look on, even these who were once eminently owned of the Lord, who was known in their palaces for a refuge! yea, it is very manifest, that no stir or essay that ever they made for their relief, but was still to their fur­ther ruin, and found God's hand visibly cross to them therein! Sure, Ammianus Marcellinus, a heathen writer, did intend no testimony to the Christian cause in relating that strange passage, which near his time fell out how the Jews by Julian's warrant and permission did attempt to build the Temple again, but a fire breaking out from the foundation thereof, which de­stroyed many of the workmen, forced them with much terror to desist.

3. Must it not be some strange and dreadful pro­vocation, beyond the sin of their forefathers, where­at so strange and unusual a stroke doth point? Whilst it is clear, that notwithstanding frequent Ido­latry, [Page 314] and departing from God, when they were at that height in wickedness as to offer up their children to Moloch, and set up altars in the groves, to reject the message of the Prophets, and thrust some of them in a dungeon; yet were only punished with 70 years captivity and after by God's very immediate hand brought again, those who had taken them captive concurring with them to re-build the Temple: But now how long and dark hath their night been, since this judgment came on them! and though they could not these many ages charge themselves with Idolatry, yet no Saviour or Deliverer hath been raised up, no Pro­phet sent forth, no sign or appearance at this day of relief, now for these 1600 years; yea, amidst these frequent changes & revolutions, that have been in the World, no change in their condition! Sure, if that people were in speaking terms with their consciences, this might put them to a strange demurr, what should be the cause, if they be not guilty of killing the Mes­sias, and that blood pursuing them; what atrocious provocation beyond others they can instance in, for which the Lord doth so long and so sorely, by such an unusual and unheard of stroke, thus contend.

4. What a marvellous concurrence of providences, and convincing appearance of a divine hand, was in this judgment, the besieging of Jerusalem by the Ro­mans falling in with the very time of the passover; whilest so great a confluence of people from all parts of the land were there on that account, that both sword and famine might contribute their help to destroy! What unreasonable and astonishing obstinacy against all offers of peace, and the most pressing insi­nuations thereof, which Titus Vespasian made, even whilst their ruin was otherwise inevitable! An un­heard of strife, where the enemy did contend to save, but they to undo themselves! How judicially har­dened [Page 315] under most remarkable prodigies and warn­ings, which they had of that approaching desolation; divided wholly amongst themselves, yea, so cruel one upon another within, that their adversary with­out could not but look thereon with compassion! O what a stroke was this, wherein greatest Atheists would grant a fatality! For indeed men cannot consider the same without acknowledging a divine hand, and something above ordinary means and causes, where all did thus meet together in a solemn conspiracy to accomplish that people's ruin.

5. But it is here we may see a singular providence of God for his Church, that those who of all the World are most violent enemies to the Christian truth, are also a most convincing witness to the same. Whilst (first) these do clearly attest the Scripture which is our alone charter, [...] divine authority of Moses and the Prophets, the [...]rue copies whereof they did most tenderly preserve, what ever absurd glosses some of their Rabbies have thereon; yea, durst never offer in the least to vitiate the original, but have had the same transmitted, still from one age to another; to which records, that are this day in their hand, the Christian Church can with much confi­dence appeal, & demonstrate from the Old Testament the undoubted truth of the New. Yea, in this we may appeal the Atheist to his conscience, that the Scripture is no imposture, or any cunning device of Christians, which is so far witnessed even by the greatest adversa­ry and maligners of the Christian Religion. (2.) That strange induration of the Jews, their unreasonable rejecting of the truth, who after so long a time cannot see the cause, which is most discernable in their stroke. O is not this also a most convincing seal to the Scrip­ture, and clear fulfilling thereof, there is a vail over their mind, as the Apostle sheweth, whilst they read the Law, judicially smitten by the Lord with blindness [Page 316] that they cannot see until once this vail be taken off? And truly we may say, there is nothing in their judg­ment more strange and astonishing, than such a conti­nued obstinacy against the truth; how they should be thus dark in the noon-day, but that herein the Scripture is fulfilled; so that we may even turn a poison into an antidote!

X. That which is so expresly foretold in the New Testament, yea, as the great drift of the Prophecies thereof, The coming of Antichrist, and revealing of the man of sin to the World (2. Thess. 2. 3, 4, 7, 8, 9,) hath long since been accomplished; wherein, we may say, the wonderful corresponding of the event with the prophecy is so clear, that this truth is now as plain and obvious, as once it was dark to the Church; these things being undeniable,—

1. How the Spirit of God in the Scripture hath been in a more than ordinary way particular, to point Antichrist forth by such notorious marks and charac­ters, that after-ages may know him, if they will not shut their eyes. I confess, it is not strange, the po­pish party should seal up the Scripture, and forbid the ordinary reading of it, since the breaking forth of that light would soon make their Kingdom dark. For if men would but set the history of the Church, since the times of the Apostles, over against the Scripture, and make use of that notable key for opening the prophecies of the New Testament, it should be then easy to know, the Antichrist is surely come, and who this is; and herein doth the Lord's tender respect to his Church appear, that he doth not only in a very solemn manner forewarn men about this great trial, and as it were by the sound of a trumpet give an alarm, that such an adversary was coming, yea, of the time thereof, who would do more hurt, than all who had gone before, but doth also make [Page 317] so clear a discovery of the whole fabrick, ri [...]e, and progress of that party, with such particular circum­stances and differencing characters from any other en­emy of the Church, as may render the World most inexcusable, if they will needs dash on that rock, whereon the Scripture hath set so conspicuous a bea­con.

2. That this Prophecy should now want an accom­plishment, or Antichrist be yet to come, is a thing most repugnant to sacred truth: since it is sure, that mystery of iniquity even in the times of the Apostles did begin to work; and what then for a time with­held his coming, the heathen Empire of Rome, hath long since been taken out of the way; which caused some Christians in those days to wish the standing and continuance of that Empire! from the terror they had of that adversary, who according to the word they knew was to fill his room. Yea, do we not find, the Churches trial from Antichrist should be the most sore and lasting trial of the Church under the New Testament? which after her begun breathing from heathenish persecution, was to continue for many ages, wherein the word is most express and clear, that the rise and fall of this enemy should be gradual, and not at once; whose beginning and first ap­pearance might be traced to the first times of the Church, and his close and final ruin near the second coming of Christ, by the brightness whereof [...]e shall be destroyed! And therefore this is so much the sub­ject of the Prophecies of the New Testament, the great intent and scope of the Revelation of John, in which the true state of the Christian Church, with the various changes of her condition, even from the opening of the first seal to the blowing of the last trumpet, is particularly held forth; and there may we all along trace the steps of the rise and fall of that man of sin.

[Page 318] 3. That such an one as the Scripture points forth, doth most fully answer to all those marks which are there given of Antichrist, hath come, and been revealed to the World, is a thing so very manifest, that except men will needs force their light and con­science, it cannot but be beyond question and de­bate; even such an one whose coming should be after the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders, forbidding to marry, and to abstain from meats which God had appointed, who sitteth in the temple of God, having a name full of blasphe­my, and doth exalt himself above all that is called God, who bewitcheth the Kings and great men of the earth with his enchantments; yea, that even by his livery may he be known, he most usually hath scarlet and purple which I think truly marvellous, how particularly these are mentioned in the Scrip­ture; and in a word, such an one whose traffick, and merchandize, is not only gold and silver, but the souls of men; who should be drunk with the blood of the Saints and Martyrs of Jesus Christ; under whose reign the Church must flee to the wilder­ness, and there be latent for a long time; and his seat, that City which is situate upon sevens hills, even that great city which doth rule over the Kings of the earth. O strange, how men can acknowlege this for the Scripture of God, and yet not see it fulfilled be­fore their eyes, that there is so lively an image and portraicture of Antichrist there held forth, such pe­culiar characters which do convincingly point at the Pope, and popish hierarchy; yea, could answer to no other adversary, which Christ ever had under the New Testament, either Pagan, or Mahumetan: and yet so much of the World doth not know him when he is before their eyes!

4. It is clear, that no age since Antichrist was re­vealed, did altogether want some witness, to point [Page 319] him forth, even in the darkest times; many of whom loved not their lives unto the death, that they might seal this truth; & it may be a question, if more of the blood of the Saints was shed under heathens, than in after-times under Antichrist. Yea, though we had not such express marks to discover him, from the world, it may be easy for men to judge who that is, that is this day so directly opposite to Jesus Christ, and to the great design of the Gospel; that assumes to himself what is alone due to God, to forgive sin, and be worshipped with Religious adoration; that challenges a Magisterial power and supremacy over the whole Church, as its head, a stile too great for any of the Angels; who maketh void the merit of Christ, and layeth down a way of life and salvation, on the same terms that it stood in the Cove­nant of works, who doth destroy the great intent of the Gospel; and in effect, denieth Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh; who setteth Heaven upon sale for money, and permitteth none to perish and go to hell, but the poor, who doth dispense with grossest acts of sin, and the express commands of the Law-giver, maketh moral prohibitions void by his authority; yea, hal­loweth the very stews, and most horrid acts of un­cleaness; taketh on him to change the condition of the dead, and ensure to their friends the happy state of their souls, if they will make large offerings on that account. O! who is this, if not that Anti­christ, whose way doth state him in such direct terms of opposition to Christ?

5. Have we not cause to wonder, no less at the strange induration and blindness of the popish party, than of the Jews, that whilst the one doth confess the Old Testament, and yet knoweth [...] Christ, the other should grant the truth of the New Testament, and not know Antichrist, that he New Testament, even he after whom a great part of the World for these many [Page 320] ages hath been wondering? Sure, so clear an agreement betwixt this prophecy and the event may not only put this beyond debate, but leave a conviction upon the greatest Atheists, of the truth and divinity of the Scripture. For what ever former times might pretend ignorance, whilst this Mystery was but working, now when the man of sin hath come to his full height and stature, and is so clearly revealed by the light of the Gospel, is taketh away all excuse; and I profess, in these latter times, I cannot see how one can be a knowing Papist, and not an Atheist also.

(¶) I know it is a sore judgment on men, who will not receive the truth, that the discovery there­of should be their pain and torment; and I am sure, whatever advantages of outward peace the followers of Antichrist have this day, they can have no sound sleep, whilst the light with that clearness doth shine, that they can neither stand before it, nor yet flee and escape, where their conscience will not follow. But O! [...]here is the scripture evidently fulfilled, and their judgment far begun, as it is held forth in Rev. 16. that the greater discovery the light makes, the more they should rage, and in fury rise against it: for the heat of this cannot but scorch, where it doth not warm. There is no help, where God doth judicially harden men: no blindness, like that where they shut their eyes, and the righteous God makes it their plague by putting his seal to it. However, wisdom must be jus­tified of her children; the truth cannot lose its errand, even when its effects are sad and judicial; for it is a sweet savour to God in them who perish. It is truly a sad sight, and there seems no access to convince, where malice at the way of the Lord turns men mad, yea, cruel against themselves; but since the Popish Church do's not avowedly deny the scriptures, the di­vinity of the New-Testament and prophesies thereof [Page 321] (which is the great advantage we require, to have its authority admitted, and their Religion brought to this test) which is the alone rule of all true Religion; and since they must grant that to be joined with Anti­christ, or partaker in such a way, is most dreadful, and involves them under the greatest of judgments; for it is a matter of no less weight, than an eternal sal­vation, or damnation: yea since this concerns Ministers of the Gospel, as one special part of their work now in the last times, to bear witness against Antichrist, (that great, we must say the greatest adversary, which Christ ever had in the earth) to warn and pursue with­out ceasing this call, whatever success it have, that men would come out of Babylon, and haste from under an approaching wrath and vengeance, which on some other ground, than appearance, we are sure, now makes haste; I would here in behalf of the truth offer some queries on this subject. (besides any thing hath been already mentioned) and herein appeal the adversary to the Scripture of God, that great and uncontroverted judge & to their own conscience, yea to the sober & retired tho'ts of such, who are under any awe or impression of a Deity, when they are alone with themselves, if this so remarkable a Prophesy, about the Antichrist & his co­ming, be not now clearly verified, that men may see him with their eyes, or else must shut them at such a sight.

1. Is there not a very full and particular discovery which the Scripture gives of this great Adversary, both in his rise & growth, his reign and fall; and not meerly by a passing word: whom the Apostle, 2. Thes. 2. 3, 4. points out by such peculiar marks; whom John do's describe and difference from all other Antichrists, that were only to be his forerunners, & shews him a more noted and principal adversary of Christ above others; yea, we have through the whole Revelation most clearly discovered, under different stiles, what he should be, and what a sore and long trial the Chris­tian [Page 322] Church was to have under his reign. I profess, when I read the Scripture, and there see so express and clear a forewarning, which many ages before we have about the coming of this adversary, with such pecu­liar distinguishing circumstances and marks, as are at this day most exactly verified in the event, I am con­strain'd to admire at so convincing and unanswe­rable a witness to the Scripture's divinity; and must think it strange, how men at such a rate can wrestle against the truth, except by getting a victory over their conscience, and putting the light in fetters, whilst they own these Prophesies of the New Testa­ment to be of divine verity; which yet they so evident­ly distort, against the clear sense and meaning thereof; yea, do adventure such a commentary on the same, that manifestly destroys the text.

2. Can you possibly expect Antichrist's coming to the world now according to the Scripture, if he be not already revealed; when his forerunners were so many ages before, even in the times of the Apos­tles, to shew he was then coming? I must ask, if this adversary should this day begin to appear, could you judge this is he, or reconcile such a contradiction, how he is now breaking out, who was beginning to discover himself 1500 years ago? For it is so long since the Apostle shew'd, this mystery of iniquity was wor­king (2 Thess. 2. 7.) which clearly points at Anti­christ, who then was hatching, though not on such a growth and ascendant, as after; and could he be yet latent, yet in the bud? Hath there been no further advance, after so many ages? Hath this mystery yet not wrought it self above ground? O where hath he been? that such a working thing, so dreadful a spark could keep so many ages under ashes, and no flame, no fire perceived? For it is sure if he was then at work, he hath not yet ceased. Yea, if you admit the Scripture, is not the rising of the Turkish [Page 323] Empire, in the order of the trumpets, clearly after the revealing of the Antichrist; and this horrid scourge held forth (Rev. 9. 20.) as a remarkable judgment from the Lord, on the Christian world, then turn'd Antichristian, for their idolatry, worshipping of ima­ges, &c. which was not brought into the Church till the man of sin was towards his height?

3. Is not this unanswerably manifest, that he who did withold, and as a bar restrained Antichrists coming for a time, cannot now be standing in the way? You see, the Scripture shews expresly there is a bar must be removed, and then should this man of sin be revealed and this cannot be doubted, but that some temporal power was hereby meant, which did then forcibly withstand (as the original word KATEX [...]N imports.) For it is very clear, whilst the Roman Empire was heathen, he could not brook Rome, or as a Monarch have his seat in that city with seven hills; he could not then both sit in the temple of God, and have the Kings of the earth to give their power with consent to him. New let me but appeal men to their reason and judgment, if any such bar could be yet standing, after so great, yea, such innumerable muta­tions and changes of the world. When, many ages since, there have been such various successions of States and Kingdoms, and a wearing out of greatest families, how could any temporal power be ever since the days of the Apostles a continued let in the way of the adversary?

4. This query I would seriously offer; if such a party can be found this day, to whom all the marks of Antichrist held forth by the Scripture, do truly agree, could you then deny that he is come; if so be you look for such an Antichrist, and under that cognisance, as the holy Ghost points him forth in the world? O will you be so much in earnest with your conscience, as to suffer the truth to come thus near, that you may impar­tially [Page 324] judge what is there of the Prophesies, that con­cerns Antichrist coming in the world, which is not now verified in the event before your eyes; and admit the Scripture but judge therein, whether there is any such particular distinguishing badge and mark, held forth in that blessed record for his discovery, which does not convincingly quadrate with the Pope, and his followers.

5. I shall in this also appeal your conscience, if there be now or hath been under the new Testament an other party, or such an adversary to the Church of Christ, to whom these distinguishing characters of An­tichrist could agree: such an one who should be no open adversary, but sit in the temple of God under the vail of a friend, with a shew of great wonders and mi­racles, and yet under that shew exalt himself against God. I know, you will deny that this hath a clear respect to the Popish party, or is justly applicable to them: but I am sure, if without a prejudicate byass you would seriously judge, and abstract from appli­cation, in this you could not deny an assent, that such a party (whosoever he be) bears that great badge of Antichrist, in exalting himself against God? who, as a friend, doth assume those titles only due & compe­tent to the glorious God, and to the Mediator, to be Head and chief Doctor of the Catholick Church, and alledges her for his spouse, who challengeth an infinite power, by making use of that, Mat. 28. 18. All power is given unto me, &c. (which that book, intitu­led Pontifical Ceremonies, does assert Lib. 1. sol. 36. who assumes an authority to bind men's conscience by his law, and to free their conscience from those laws which are divine and unchangable; who appoints di­vine worship and adoration to creatures, by directing prayers to them; does subject the faith of the Church to the determination of a man, in which, as infal­lible, all must rest: is not that a dethroning of him [Page 325] who is the great Prophet and teacher of his Church, yea, a making his authority void? Now, beside these distinguishing characters, which the Scripture, so expresly gives of Antichrist, are not these also so notorious and plain, that I think it strange how men can have their reason and judgment in exercise, and not know to whom they belong; I mean, the forbidding of marriage, and of the use of meats, which the Apostle holds forth, 1 Tim. 4. 3. and in Rev. 18. 13. you have there a merchandise with the souls of men. And O can any be in the dark, who these are, that have such a peculiar traffick with this ware, by redeeming souls for money, and making a sale of pardons and indulgences, which concern men's souls. I shall add that likewise Rev. 9. 20. the worshiping of idols of gold and silver; and herein crave the world to be judge, yea, can appeal to some of their own greatest writers, if this be not both the doc­trine and the practice of the Romish Church, which one of the most learn'd among them does expresly assert, that the images of the Trinity are not set up for a shew, but for Religious Adoration. And is not this a most direct making void of the moral law? which so expresly forbids any worshipping of the in­visible God under the similitude of a corruptible man, or under any visible representation.

6. Is not this foretold of Antichrist, what a domi­nion he should have over the Kings of the earth (Rev. 17. 18.) unto whom they should agree, and give their power and Kingdoms, to support his interest? Now if this be not convincingly verified, and hath been for many ages in the Pope, it is easy to judge: and I am sure, his followers would be loth to deny a thing, in which they so much boast. I confess, were it not thus foretold by the Scripture, we could not think it credible, how the Kings and great men of the earth should be in such a measure bewitched, to enslave [Page 326] themselves and their interest to that party, and yield to so strange a subjection under their yoke; it seems so very irrational, yea, like an infatuation, since they cannot but see under what a terror he keeps them by his interdictions, by assuming a power to loose subjects from any tie to their Princes; and thus binding and loosing their conscience at his pleasure, what interest he hath in their counsels, by that subtile device of auricular confession; what intollerable ho­mage and service he requires from Princes; what vast treasure he draws for support of his Hierarchy, from those places where he hath power; yea, what a visible tendency his actings have to promote a worldly interest, and make the great men of the earth dependent on him; how easily he can dispense with the greatest breaches of the moral law, whilst most cruel and inexorable in any thing that interferes with his power and supremacy; O how astonishing might this blind devoting of great men, both themselves and their power, to the support of such an interest be, if we had not a clear resolution from the Scripture, that this is from the Lord, who hath put it in their heart, and so far gives them up in his secret judgment!

7. I must ask, is not that a convincing witness to the Scripture, and a clear argument for the Protestant reformed Church, which you so much object against her, that her condition for so many ages hath been low and abject, and did so little appear, whilst the Popish interest was resplendent and flourishing; For it is sure, such a long continued suffering, and latent condition of the Church under Antichrist, is ex­presly foretold, wherein the witnesses should be put to prophesy in sackcloth, and the poor woman (which is meant of the Church) put to flee to the wilder­ness and be there hid: so that you cannot say, the Church and followers of Christ have been more low in these worst and darkest times, than the word [Page 327] holds her out to be. Yet, hath there been still a succes­sion, and some witness for the truth, and the Church thus continued in all these times, which (as one ex­cellently says) was like a fresh river that made her way through that horrid lake of Antichristianism, without mixing therewith, and at last did break out glo­riously.

8. Is not the Antichrist in a special way pointed out in the Scripture, by some proper mark? some visible sign and cognisance, which his followers should receive, for differencing them for any other party, Rev. 13. 16. Now in this I desire the World and commonest observers to judge, if those many strange ceremonies and rites of the Romish Church, their distinguishing signs and badges (which they so much own and indispensibly require, as visible charac­ters of their profession, yea, are so peculiar to that party beyond others) do not convincing­ly quadrate with the Scripture herein, and most clearly verify the same in the event. The World knows, and the ordinary way and practice of these can witness, that frequent use (oh a most horrid, idolatrous abuse!) of the sign of the cross; which not only in a special manner they take as a differencing badge of their party from others, by so frequent a crossing of their forehead and breast, and putting this as their mark on all they baptise, or receive by con­firmation; but do ascribe also to it an effective and operative power, and as a charm or magical sign makes use of it to effect things surpernatural, to re­strain sin, drive away the Devil. For thus they conjure spirits, thus they wear it in their rings, and pendia­ries; yea, is it not by them adored and worshiped, and made use of for the blessing and consecration of all other things: Sure, this can be no matter of debate, since it is so known and obvious, and that it is easy thus to discern a Roman Catholick, if he but avow [Page 328] his profession, by such a visible sign, and find him but by his mark; which that party does pursue with greatest fervour, and thereby correspond and discover themselves one to another.

I shall further add, Is not this the Antichrist, whose name must be understood, and reckoned by the number thereof, which is the number of a man! Rev. 13. 18. It is true, this seems very dark and mysterious, and in stead of a more clear discovery, might rather be judged a drawing a vail over this adversary: but since we have the Scriptures express call and warrant, to make a serious inquiry and search about its meaning, yea, does not only hold it forth as duty, but shews such a thing is attainable, and may be understood, I shall desire in humble sobriety, without peremptory asserting, to offer some few thoughts on this Scripture, both as to its meaning, and how clearly the man of sin is thus pointed out and his name made known by the number [...] about which I humbly judge (and must therein crave liberty to differ from others, and those whose judg­ment I most highly respect) that this number (as it is here set down) is explicatory, and given as the very key to the Church, for opening the mystery of this name, and of that man of whom also it is the number; and thus shew's, it is not to be reckoned as the name of a single person, nor is it to be found by Arithmetical computation in the numeral letters of a man, but is the name of a politick body, a name which comprehends a plurality, such as those nu­merous orders and degrees of the pontifical Hie­rarchy are; and by such a scale, his number does remarkably ascend in so many degrees, until it termi­nate in a man, even in one absolute Monarch and uni­versal Head, as the very Summa totalis, in whom that whole number resolves, and therefore it is the num­ber of a man. Yea, by this reckoning, we may thus [Page 329] clearly know what a man that is; that as he cannot be known, if we take him alone, without respect to a politick body and the whole complex Hierarchy, of which number he is made up, as the constituent parts, we must also understand, by this computa­tion, the Antichrist, with respect to a long conti­nued series and succession, which here the Scrip­ture shews to the Church: that he is not a single in­dividual person only, or such a politick body, of many numerous degrees, resolving in one head, which should be but for an age, or of a short duration; but that he is an adversary who is to be continued, in a nu­merous succession, through a series of many ages. And thus may the man of sin and his name be un­derstood, by this number, of which he is made up. Now in this, I humbly judge, the scope of the Scrip­ture is clear, in setting down such a rule to count An­tichrist by his number, and thus does prophetically ob­viate that great mistake, after-ages would fall into, and is to this day entertained, that this adversary is but one individual person, who should get up, and cause a remarkable Apostacy in the Church; therefore it is, that the World will not know this is he, when they see him before their eyes; not considering that such a numerous body and succession is contained in his name, from which he cannot be separate.

But for further clearing, I shall offer some few things to be seriously considered in his reckoning. (1) Here is a number, and plurality, by the Holy Ghost particularly set down, by which Antichrist must be known and counted: and the tie is so close betwixt him and his number, that both the man, and his name is formally made up thereof.—(2.) Here is a number which is not to be sought after by the sub­tile computations of Arithmetick, or any curious in­quiry in the numeral letters of a man's name; since thus we cannot know the true use of Christian wisdom [Page 330] and prudence, which the Scripture requires; yea, it is clear, this way might answer several other names, as well as Lateinos, which could not in an ordinary way be determined, without a pretending to some extra­ordinary revelation and discovery. But here may be judged work for spiritual wisdom, to count this number of Antichrist, and his name, with respect to his nature, frame, and composition.—(3.) Here is such a number, which is all summed up in one man, and cannot otherways be counted or understood, but as it hath a respect to a single person, in a continued suc­cession, wherein it resolves. Now, is there not such a number, to which the Pope stands as nearly related, as the total sum is to those degrees, and lesser num­bers, of which it is made up? And here is wisdom, to join aright that man of sin, and his number, and there see how exactly they quadrate in the event, and each gives light to an other.—(4.) We find here a large number, wherein there is a plurality of many dif­ferent degrees, rising one above other, and is there­fore definitely expressed by so great a number as 666.—(5.) This is also a number (and herein there seems clear ground for such a remark) which is most unite and compact, with a close concatenation, a re­markable order, and rising from a lower to a higher degree, with a special subordination and dependance on other; yea, is thus knit, that one part compre­hends the other; such as is most clear and obvi­ous, in that subtile politick constitution of the Romish State, and that numerous Hierarchy, with which this definite number of 666 seems marvellously to quadrate: where by a scale of so many steps and degrees, you may follow up this number, as it were from six to sixty, &c. by Deans, Provincials, Ge­nerals of Orders, to Bishops, thence Archbishops, Primates, Patriarchs, Cardinals, until you find all resolve in one man; who is as straitly related to it, as [Page 231] a name can be to so many syllables, whereof it is made up. I know, this may seem too curious an inquiry, and not so suiting the gravity and weight of the Scrip­ture; but since the Spirit of God hath chose such a definite number before another, wherein there is so strange an order and quadration, to discover that ad­versary, and gives us such ground that his number points at his frame and composition, I think, with­out any challenge of unsobriety, such a remark very sutable.—6. Whilst the Scripture shews, this is the number of a man, and of his name, does it not also shew, it is such a number that lies nearest Antichrist, and is most straitly related to him; and as the formal cause, does most specially concur in his constitu­tion, yea, gives as it were life to that image? Now let it be seriously considered what this is, yea, whither that mystery of Antichristianism does not in a peculiar way lie in his Supremacy, and being infallible and the ultimate judge of controversies, which he claims as absolute Head of the Church universal, and that foun­tain whence all those degrees of power in the Romish Hierarchy do flow, and in whom they fully termi­nate. For it is clear, thence are all those gross tenets, and corruptions in doctrine. Thus he most directly exalts himself against God, and puts the Mediator off his throne: thus he does exercise authority over men's conscience; thus Antichristianism, and that avowed opposition to Jesus Christ, takes life, is nourished, and hath its strength, even under those wings of his abso­lute supremacy. Now if it be clear that this is the number which lies nearest to Antichrist, from which he can no ways be separated, and does most formally make up that man of sin, then by the exercise of Chris­tian wisdom may that number, and its true meaning be thence understood.—(7.) Is not this such a number, that is peculiarly restricted, in a class by it self, which the 18th Ver. does shew, wherein that great Bulk of the [Page 332] Romish Church is not to be sought? For though it is there clear, that such who receive the mark, and by some visible profession own the doctrine of the Ro­mish Church, are of the largest extent, and there­fore it is said, great and small, rich and poor, must come that length, yet as to the number of the beast, and of his name, it is expressed by its self, and as a higher class, in which all of the common rank who must receive the mark, do not fall: but as lying more close and near to Antichrist, is in a peculiar manner restricted by a distinguishing note; which a serious study of that Scripture will help to clear. (¶)

XI. What was prophesied about the killing of the witnesses under Antichrist, (Rev. 11. 3, 7, 8.) we may say, hath clearly come to pass, and at this day may read the same in the event. For it is manifest,—

1. That during Antichrist's reign, even in the dar­kest times, there wanted not some to seal the truth, and bear witness thereto, both by open confession, and suffering on that account, which the Church-Hi­stories can abundantly make out.

2. That during that dark night those who did give a testimony, and any way appeared against the grievous encroachments of Antichrist, in behalf of down-born truth, were put to prophecy in sackcloth, when there was nothing left, but to weep over the Church's ruins, and witness their detestation and grief for the growing Apostacy of such times.

3. It is clear, that as the prophecy doth point at some more remarkable suffering and persecution, which the Church was to meet with from Antichrist, be­yond all it had endured from that adversary in former ages; yea, a special permission from the Lord to that party, to vent their rage and cruelty against the Saints, which should fall out after the witnesses finish­ing [Page 333] their testimony, who had so long in an abject low condition, as in sackcloth, prophecied; yea, when Antichrist should be at his height, and his Kingdom upon the turn, that then must this remarkable killing of the witnesses be accomplished: so likewise did the event convincingly verify the same. For it is known that upon the close of Antichrist's reign, whilst the truth began to break out, this sorest storm of per­secution beyond all that had been before, did then break upon the Church, even in its budding forth, that we may say, that adversary did not only put forth the utmost of his power and rage against the Saints, but seemed in some measure to bring his cruel de­signs to pass; which the dreadful massacres in France, Provence, and the Valleys of Piemont, the sore and violent persecution of the Church thro' the Netherlands, under the Duke of Alva, and in England by Queen Mary, in Germany after the de­feat of the Duke of Saxony, and Landgrave of Hesse, can clearly witness.

4. Is it not also clear, how this remarkable storm, and cutting down of the Saints, over whose dead bo­dies their adversaries did rejoice, was according to this prophecy to be previous to some eminent enlarg­ment and reviving of the Church, which did ac­cordingly fall out in the event, like a resurrection of the witnesses from the dead, to the astonishment of the World, that immediately followed upon the back thereof? so that when their enemies thought they had gained their end, as they did conclude by such perse­cutions, particularly that French massacre, that the Protestant interest should be quite ruined, they were yet forced to see their labour in vain, and the Church more eminently flourishing after the same.

I shall further add, that Antichrist hath not only been revealed, and his Kingdom come to its height: but it is clear this day, that it is on the falling hand, and [Page 334] his ruin is now begun. Upon which account we may say, yea, have cause to sing, that the winter is past, the fig-tree putteth forth her leaves, that sheweth the summer's approach; yea, the singing of birds is heard in our land: let us go forth, and meet him, who is now gone out as a mighty man, for the salvation of his Church, and takes the fields against this great adver­sary of his truth and people, on whose side victory doth surely wait.

The second thing proposed, was to consider,—WHAT IS YET TO BE ACCOMPLISHED.

Having touched a little some of the most concerning prophecies of the Scripture, both under the New and Old Testament, which are already fulfilled, and the truth thereof so clearly written forth in the history of providence; that we may say, the most ordinary observers, if they will not shut their eyes, cannot want a conviction thereof: I shall now in the next place point at that which yet remaineth of the prophetical part of the Scripture, to be accom­plished; those prophecies which concern the Church in these last times. Whereby we may have a sure de­monstration, how far the night is spent, and of the near approach of that blessed day of the liberty of the sons of God: for this doth finish the mystery of God, and fully prefecteth his work, if once that which remaineth of the prophecies of the word were fulfilled.

There are those truths, the accomplishment where­of we have a sure warrant to expect before the end. As (1.) The full ruin, and downfal of Babylon. (2.) The conversion and incalling of the Jews to Jesus Christ.—(3.) A solemn day of the Church's flourish­ing, both Jews and Gentiles, which shall fol­low the making out of the former promise. (4.) The [Page 335] fall and destruction of the Turkish Empire, that cruel party who have been raised up and established for judgment, with whom the Lord shall yet rec­kon, for all that Christian blood by them so unjustly shed, as seemeth clearly held forth, Rev. 16. 12. (5.) We are also to expect, after all these, that full and last stroke upon Gog and Magog: and then the Lord is at hand, and that great mystery of the prophecies and promises of the Scripture shall then be finished, and at a blessed close.

I. We have the full ruin and destruction of An­tichrist and his Kingdom, clearly prophesied, and in very express terms promised to the Church (2 Thess. 2. 2, 8. Rev. 16. 10, and 17.) the accomplishment whereof we do yet according to the Scripture wait for; which the God of truth, who can­not lie or repent, shall in due time assuredly bring about, and which approacheth when that solemn cry shall be heard, Babylon is fallen! about which we would consider,—

1. That this judgment is already begun, and the first step thereof visible is now clear; wherein men may see the event most exactly answer the prophecy. For the Lord hath begun to consume Antichrist by the breath of his mouth: and since the first breaking out of the light, his Kingdom hath been moulder­ing down before the Word. Have not Nations fal­len off, at the voice of the preached Gospel? It is true, the Church wanteth not sore conflicts, even under the Vials: and it is the Lord's way, to try his People with such various uncertainties, that when things have been most promising, another providence cometh like a cross wave, which seemeth to drive them as far back, as once they seemed to be forward. Yet it is sure, and should be beyond debate, that Anti­christ's overthrow is upon a present advance, and that [Page 336] work of the Lord for his Church's deliverance is going forward. For if we believe salvation by Christ upon the warrant of the word, should we not also with much assurance believe that Antichrist's wound is deadly and incurable, which he hath got by the preaching of the Gospel, which all the Physicians of the earth shall never help.

2. This is one of the greatest and most signal acts of the judgment of God on his Church's enemies; one of the most eminent manifestations of his glory, which he hath reserved for the last times, wherein the ap­pearance of his hand and great power shall be very ma­nifest; and we are to expect by this remarkable stroke that way shall be made for that glorious house, which Christ is to have for himself in the latter days, which shall be built upon Antichrist's ruins, when that new bride, both of Jews and Gentiles, shall be prepared for the marriage-supper of the Lamb.

3. Though we are to expect, on clear ground from the word, the Lord's eminent appearing by his im­mediate hand in this great work, which shall be so con­vincing in that day, and witness an extraordinary pro­vidence, that all lookers-on must with fear and asto­nishment confess, that this is God's own work: yet it is also clear, that he will therein make use of instru­ments, fitted and chosen for that end, who shall be raised and acted forth with a more than ordinary Spi­rit, to execute the vengeance of the Lord, even the judgment written: amongst whom the feeble shall then be strong. Yea, we have ground to expect, that of the Kings of the earth, and the race and succes­sors of those who in former times had given their power to the Beast, shall the Lord raise up, to hate the whore, and make her desolate. O blessed are they, who shall have a hand in so noble a work, to sack and destroy that accursed City, built up with the blood of the Saints and martyrs of Jesus Christ.

[Page 337] 4. We are not to bound the Lord, as to any par­ticular time for accomplishing this piece of his word: yet, we have clear ground to believe, that Babylon's ruin maketh haste, and the day of the Lord upon her is near; whose sword is bathed in Heaven, and that the instruments of his vengeance are making ready. One stroke upon that party is already past; Antichrist hath begun to fall before the word, and must fall fur­ther until that great stroke, which shall destroy his seat and lay waste that land, be accomplished. Some promising evidences of its near approach I would here point at. (1.) The many prayers of the saints, which are now before the throne, and cannot sail of a return. Many who wrestled oft with the Lord on this account, though they are gone, yet are their prayers on the file, and wait for this solemn mani­festation of the judgment of God: and the blood of the Saints doth not cease to cry, yea, hath as loud a cry as ever.—(2.) It is clear, that the preached Gospel now since the light began to break forth, doth ripen and help to make the harvest more white, than many ages formerly. And truly, if we consider how long the word hath been sounding a retreat to that party, to come out of Babylon, and that for these 150 years they have been still acting in opposition to so clear a light, to such a solemn call, so many warnings, yea, to such convincing discovery of the Lord's being a­gainst them in very remarkable providences, doth it not shew, at what an height their sin this day is, and an obstinate rejecting of cure?—(3.) We cannot but see how that judgment which should be poured forth on Antichrist under the vials, is in a great measure now verified in the event.—(4.) It is clear, and consonant to the Scripture, that the Lord's work is now hasten­ing in the latter days, providence in a swift motion and making great advance, more quick changes in the case of the Church, both as to storms and calms, [Page 338] and her trials now must not be so long as in former time. Rom 9. 28. He will out short his work in righteousness; for a short work will the Lord make in the earth.—(5.) That Antichrist and his followers do this day seem to be at such an advantage; the Lord's work as it were at a stand, yea, rather going back. This late reviving of Antichristian Prelacy in Britain and Ireland, with so visible a growth of Popery there, and so dark an hour upon the reformed Churches a­broad, I think, on very solid grounds, is a promi­sing evidence of the near approach of a further stroke on that party. For it is clear, both from the word and God's ordinary way of procedure, how a sharp storm is usually previous to some remarkable enlarge­ment of the Church; a very low ebb, before the tur­ning of the tide; yea, that every step of her advance, whereby she hath gained ground on Antichrist, hath still had some conflict and wrestling going before: and thus the Lord, by suffering, doth ripen his People for such times of mercy. For which times, O let us pray and wait, when the smoke of that accursed City shall ascend up to Heaven, and his People be made to triumph in his praise, and sing that song, Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and honour to the Lord God, who hath judged the great whore! Rejoyce over her, thou Heaven, and ye holy Apostles and Prophets: for God hath avenged you upon her.

II. We have a clear prophecy about the incalling of the Jews, and their conversion to Christ in the latter days, held forth by the prophets, and in the New Testament very expresly mentioned; the fulfilling whereof the Church must yet wait for, and long after, when God shall bring again the captivity of his an­cient People, and say to that valley of dry bones. Live! about which we would consider, Isai. 11. 15. Rom. 11. 24. Rev. 16. 12.

[Page 339] 1. That this promise doth not only concern par­ticular persons, or a few, but the body and genera­lity of that people, is most clear from the Scripture, if men would compare Isa. 11. 11. Zach. 12. 10. with Rom. 11. 25. Where it is undeniable, that their gathering must be as full and remark­able, as their scattering: and as there is no nation so remote whither some of them are this day driven, that shall not hinder the fulfilling of the promise; but as Isaiah sheweth, the Lord shall then assemble the disper­sed and outcasts, and bring them back from the four corners of the earth, and furthest places thereof. Yea, doth not the Apostle expresly shew, that it is all Israel, whereat this promise pointeth? For though they are enemies concerning the Gospel, yet are they beloved for the fathers sakes, because of the Covenant which was made with Abraham and his seed. And truly we have in this, ground also to expect something further than their conversion; that in this day the Lord shall raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen, and plant them upon their own land, Amos 9. 11, 15. Not only bring them to a visible Church-state, but even therewith some temporal restitution and recollection of them as a Nation: yea, we may expect a return of the old bles­sing of that land's fruitfulness, which I think is clearly held forth in that of Amos. 9 14. that the very hills shall drop down sweet wine, and melt as it were in out­ward blessings on them.

2. That this promise hath not yet had an accom­plishment, is also clear from the Word. For it must follow the rejection of that People, and should not take place until the fulness of the gentiles be brought in: which harvest for many ages after was not to be reaped. Yea, did not the Apostle hold this forth as a mystery, a piece of the Scripture which the ancient Jewish Church could not well comprehend, when it [Page 340] was pointed at Prophets, and even at that time was not understood? Which surely could have been no mystery, if their conversion had reached no further then the Apostles time; and it is known, how small a number since of that People hath yet been brought into Christ.

3. We have much ground from the Scripture, that this day, this great day of Jezreel, shall be a very remarkable and solemn time: which will cause asto­nishment to the Nations round about, & make a won­derful change on the face of the earth; a time of God's eminent appearance for that People, when his singu­lar respect shall be as manifest, as formerly his great displeasure and anger was; a time, on which many of the choicest mercies of the Church do certainly wait, the return of many prayers, a large pouring forth of the Spirit, even on the body of that People and on all ranks, not only the families of David Nathan, and Levi, but also the families of Shimei, with a large Dispensation of gifts; yea, such a time, wherein the converted of Israel shall then see and un­derstand how far the glory of the second Temple doth exceed that of the first, and shall be a very con­spicuous part of Christ's universal Kingdom, eminent for the power and purity of the ordinances, to which others shall look as to a most choice and excellent pattern of a purely reformed and glorious Church.

4. Beside the promise of him, who is not like man to lie, or the son of man, to repent, there want not some very convincing providences, to confirm our faith concerning this: if we consider how this People are still kept by themselves, amidst all their scatterings not mixt or incorporated with other Nations, which is most usual thro' long converse, that people of several parts of the earth will unite & join in one. Is not their great increase also remarkable? What great multitudes of them are in the eastern parts, yea, through most of [Page 341] Asia, Africa, and in those places of Europe where the Christian Church is? & all this time their land not pos­sessed, but by a rabble of the Turks, under whose yoke they groan. And though the genealogies of particular families are at this day much lost, yet there is still so much sure and evident, as to the series and ge­nealogy of the Nation, that doth difference them from any other People.

5. It is true, the authority of the word should si­lence all our thoughts how so great a thing shall be brought about: yet we may judge, that (as a mean) this shall eminently contribute to the same, such a convincing stroke upon Antichrist which must go before their conversion, wherein so manifest an ap­pearance of God, and the fulfilling of one of the great­est promises of the New Testament, cannot but stare them in the face; and with this the taking away of that stumbling block of idolatry, which hath so long helpt to harden them against the profession of the Gospel.

I must shut up this with a sad regret that whilst we have so clear a promise, there is no more tender respect, and further essay to promote the good of that People. Who knoweth, what a blessing might attend the use of ordinary means? since this is an unquesti­onable duty, and men know not, when they sow the seed, whether this or that shall prosper, alas! that the usual deportment of Christians, with whom they converse, doth oft further help to highten their pre­judice against Christianity; let us long and pray more for this day, a day which shall bring so great a blessing with it to the gentiles.

III. There are many prophecies both in the Old and New Testament, that do clearly point at a great flourishing & prosperity in the days of the Gospel: which I humbly conceive, are not yet fully made out, but [Page 342] shall have a more remarkable accomplishment before the close of time. Isaiah 65. 25. Isaiah 66. 12. Mich. 4. 1, 2.

I confess, the event will be the surest commentary; and until this appear, men should be sober and cauti­ous, that they darken not the counsel of God, and his truth, with any wild fancy, and aim to be wise above that which is written: yet I must think, that there are great things laid up in these promises for the Church, that we cannot now well reach; yea, would scarce get believed, until the appointed time unvail their meaning. I shall here but only touch how it may appear these promises are not yet fully accom­plished, and what with a safe warrant we may expect in their accomplishment. As to the first, we would consider these things,—

1. That these great promises, which hold forth so eminent an enlargement and flourishing of the Church, do also point at some particular limited time; some period and revolution of the Church's condition, which is not agreeable and common to other times; until which these promises do not take place.

2. This promised flourishing concerneth both Jews and Gentiles, and the word doth clearly point at some further encrease of the gentile Church by the calling of the Jews: which must have a peculiar re­spect to that solemn time of Israel's restoration, and Antichrist's ruin; a time, on which the return of ma­ny prayers, and the fulfilling of many promises in the behalf of the Church, do surely wait. So that as Isaiah and other of the Prophets do put over this great flourishing of the Church to the days of the Gospel, the Apostle Rom. 11. doth point at a more precise time, wherein this in a larger measure shall be made out.

3. We cannot find the Christian Church did ever [Page 343] enjoy so great an enlargement and flourishing state as these promises seem to import. For persecution and suffering hath most been her lot, first from the Jews, next from her heathen adversaries, and last from Antichrist, whose fall and ruin, we have ground to expect, shall make room for so great an increase of the Church: for, how much power Antichrist hath, in so far is the Church kept under; yea, it is clear how very short all her breathings have been.

4. It would appear, so solemn a time of the Chur­ches flourishing, whereat the Prophets did so oft point, as it hath an undoubted respect to the days of the Gospel, so in its full accomplishment must an­swer to that remarkable day of Satan's binding and the Saints Reign with Christ, when the Kingdoms of the Earth become the Lord's; which we find doth immediately preceed Satan's last loosing, and his going forth to gather his broken forces, for that great battel, which is to be very near the end.

I shall but add, we have ground to judge, the Lord will usher in that glorious everlasting state of the Church, even by some preparative degrees here: the latter times are there to be reckoned the more blessed, the more near they approach to the dawn­ing of glory.

Now, in the second place, I shall but point at some things, which with a safe warrant we may understand and look after in the accomplishment of these promises.

It is very clear, they hold forth a great enlargement to the universal Church, both of Jews and Gentiles. Particular Churches may be in a sad withering condi­tion, whilst other parts do flourish: but these pro­mises seem to point at a day, which will concern the saints in all corners of the earth, who shall not want their share with the rest of that blessed time. It may [Page 344] be also clear, some more bright and hot sun-shine of the Gospel is held forth; some such remarkable spring-tide of the Spirit, that shall be as discernable, as the Churches low ebb sometimes was; a day of the great power of God, his presence very manifest among his people and with the ordinances, beyond former times; so that Ezek. 48. 35. The name of that place shall be called Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there. Yea, that in this day Christ's visible Kingdom, in a setled Church-state, shall more emi­nently flourish: and the flowing in of people and na­tions with much fervour, who shall joyn themselves to the Lord, pure ordinances, a more universal oneness amongst the worshippers of God, the walk of Christi­ans with a discernable lustre of holiness, will be made to commend the Gospel; Christ's goings full of Majesty, and the shout of a King which then shall be heard among his People; the noise of such sad complaints and bitter exercises from the spirit of bondage, not so much among the saints, as in former times. And though we see no sure ground from the word, to expect such a favourable time, wherein the Church militant shall not have trouble and persecu­tion from the World: yet there seemeth so much clearly imported in some of these great promises, as point at a great calm, and more favourable gale of outward prosperity, which the Church shall then have, yea, this in some longer continuance than in former ages; a day, wherein the haters of the Lord shall even be made to feign subjection, with much of the countenance & concurrence of Magistrates, and the civil authority in behalf of the Church; yea, a time of much holy fear amongst the people of God, and of much terrour and aw upon his enemies, to which the great works of the Lord in that time shall then effectually contribute, and cause them to fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.

[Page 345] (¶) IV. There is a special prediction of Satan's binding up, or restraint, and of some remarkable reign of the Church with Jesus Christ, held forth, Rev. 20. 2. The full accomplishment of which we on clear ground may judge, is not already come: yet is so far now verified in the event, as may clearly witness its meaning, and let us see how at this day it is taking place. I confess, this seems one of the most dark and abstruse prophesies, we have in the Scripture; on which there hath been many strange thoughts and glosses held forth: but to set down these various judg­ments of men on the truths of God, I humbly think, may tend to a further darkning of the same, more than to any solid edification. I shall only offer some things to be considered, which by undeniable con­sequence from the Scripture seem most clear and ob­vious, and may only help to the understanding this Prophesie, but that manifest correspondence which is betwixt it and the event at this day.

(1.) There can be no debate, this solemn time of the Saints reign with Christ concerns the militant condi­tion of the Church, and must be expected here on the earth, not in heaven. And therefore we find imme­diately after, there is a very sore assault of the Devil held forth, who should occasion a new trial to the Church; and he for a time let loose, to deceive the na­tions.—(2.) Since the Scripture is the best interpreter of it self, we must here understand (comparing one place with another) this raising of the Saints and Mar­tyrs of Jesus Christ to reign with him, figuratively, and in such a sense as that is Rev. 11. 11. must be understood; to wit, a rising of the witnesses in the same spirit and power, and of such a party who should bear the same testimony. To which also that in Mal. 4. 5. and Mat. 11. 14. about John's coming in the same Spirit of Elijah, with which he did appear to the World, gives light. So that we see how consonant and [Page 346] agreeable the Scripture is with it self. (3.) Is not the meaning of the Spirit in this prophesy clear, that the greatest enlargement of the Church, yea, & of the long­est duration and continuance, that it should have un­der the New Testament unto the second coming of Christ, is held forth in the reign of the saints? So that it manifestly points at a more solemn time, a more sweet refreshing interval, which shall be remarkable both in measure and duration beyond all she formerly had: and shews, that there is no such happy time else to go over the Church's head, till she be trium­phant in heaven. Therefore it is called, by way of eminence, the Church's reign, considered compara­tively with any other such change. (4.) Is it not very clear, that this so remarkable time cannot be judged previous to Antichrist's coming, nor under his ad­vance and growth? Since, first, this points expresly at those who were beheaded for the witness of Christ, and had not worshiped the beast and his i­mage, nor received his mark, who should thus be raised to reign with Christ.—(2.) We find that it doth very immediately preceed that last assault the Church shall have, upon Satan's loosing, to gather the nations to that great battel, and so must concern these last times, when the Lord is pouring out his vials upon the throne and Kingdom of the beast. It is strange, when the Scripture is so plain, that some choice and excellent men, writing on this pro­phesy, will have it contemporary with the Church's condition before Antichrist's appearance: for it is sure if by the beast and his image and mark, Antichrist must be understood, and if there be but one great assault mentioned after this, which the Church militant shall have before the close of time, this prophesie must now be fulfilling, and with no other time before this could quadrate, according to the Scripture.—(5.) Is it not clear, that this great restraint of Satan is no such [Page 347] absolute binding, that will put the Church wholly beyond trouble and reach of his assaults? No, this be­longs to heaven, and is there only to be expec­ted. But the Scripture very evidently shew's, this shall be such a binding up of Satan, that he should not deceive the nations, nor have that wonted power to darken the face of the Church by any great or uni­versal apostacy, during this time. And I am sure, it is undeniable, that since the Church's raising from un­der Antichrist, Satan hath been thus restrained: & by all his violent assaults, he hath not reached the full with­drawing of any one nation, which was brought under the yoke of the Gospel; whatever may be said of poor Bohemia, by a violent course of persecution so born down, that this once famous Church is now scatter­ed in other places where there are yet considerable numbers, yea, it is not altogether without hope, that the great avenger of blood will yet visit her cruel usage on that bloody Austrian family, and return yet her captivity again, when it seems now furthest off and hopeless.—(6.) Must we not see, that this great sunshine, as it takes in Antichrist's fall, hath a special respect also to Israel's return and conversion? Which, according to the Scripture, is one of the most solemn and flourish­ing times that the Christian Church shall have, and therefore shall be to the gentiles as life from the dead. Now, do but seriously judge what the Church's con­dition hath been through all the times of the New Testament, first under Heathens, and after under the tyranny of Antichrist, and now how far providence does unfold the meaning of this prophecy in the event, since the man of sin began to decline; and I humbly judge, it may be easy to see, that at this day it is clearly taking place, though this solemn reign be not yet advanced to its greatest pitch, but will have a more remarkable period ere this prophecy be fully made out. I shall but add, this resurrection menti­oned [Page 348] in the prophecy, must be in a spiritual sense un­derstood, and can be no bodily raising of the Saints; since it is so expresly there called the first resurrection, to difference it from the second, and is held forth in an opposition to the first death. (¶)

VI. We have a prophecy held forth, Rev. 16. 12. which compared with Rev. 9. 13. seemeth clearly to point at the fall and destruction of the Tur­kish Empire, who have been these many ages so great a scourge to the Christian World. For it's manifest, that this drying up of the river Euphrates must relate to the very party, which we find in that 9th Chap. raised up from about that river, where the Turk hath so con­siderable a part of his dominions. It is true, the e­vent will more clearly make this known: Yet these Things are undeniable,—

1. That such a Party was foretold by John, in that 9th Ch. and a solemn warning given to the Church, of so dreadful a storm; the time also there pointed forth, when Antichrist should be at a great height; yea, the portr [...]icture of such an adversary most evidently held forth, such as indeed they were found to be, a terrible cruel destroying party, and therefore are said to have breast-plates of fire; their number also there held out to be a very great multitude, which those huge armies usually brought by the Turk to the field, can witness.

2. The cause why the Lord should raise up so dread­ful an enemy, and thus let them loose, is also expresly declared in that 9th Chap. 20th ver. that it was in judgment, and for a plague on men, for Antichristian idolatry, which then had so much overspread the earth; and it was no wonder, when so much of the visible Church was turned almost brutish in their Religion, and from the pure worship of God was carried after idols of gold and silver, the work of [Page 349] men's hands, that so brutish and barbarous an ad­versary should be let out for a scourge. I truly think, that as Antichrist, and the abominations of that par­ty, hath been hitherto the let of success against the Turk; so we are not to expect the prospering of any such design, and his fall and ruin, until the cause be removed, for which the Lord did make use of this dreadful rod.

3. That such a party was raised up, according to the prophecy, yea, at the appointed time thereof, is very clear, who like a mighty deluge did overthrow a great part of the earth, and with strange prodigi­ous success did over-run much of Asia, some parts of Africa, and brake in on Europe, to give work to those kings and great men, and be a scourge to them, who had given their power to uphold the throne of the Beast.

4. There is also clear ground from the Scripture, that the Lord shall as eminently appear in the fall and destruction of this adversary, as in the raising of them up; and that by their fall, he is to make way for the accomplishing of his promise, about the Church's further increase, his ancient people, where­to this prophecy seems to have a particular respect. This we are to look for, as one of the great works of the Lord, that is reserved for the latter days, which shall no less shew forth his power and glory, even the drying up of that great Euphrates, than in the day that he divided the sea, and made Jordan a dry channel for his people to go through. We are not to be further positive about means and instruments, how such a thing shall be brought about: it is enough, what the Lord hath spoken; and the word that is gone out of his mouth, shall not return empty.

VII. Now to close this, there is yet one great assault, which we find the Church shall have before [Page 350] the end, and then her warfare will be near finished: about which the Scripture is clear, that Satan for a little time must be let loose, and that solemn and perfect victory, which the Church in the close of time will get over all her adversaries, shall be ushered in with a very sharp trial, & once again this ungodly World will shew its rage, rally its broken scattered forces, in a general muster (Rev. 20. 8.) with as much fury as ever: and then shall the Lord eminently appear, that by one full stroke he may for ever decide that long continued war and feud betwixt the Church and her enemies. A deliverance, which as it will be the last, so one of the greatest that ever the Church had; the Lord thus finishing his work of providence, by so stately and magnifi­cent a close? And truly, after this, we know no more of Canonick Scripture to be fulfilled, but the com­ing of the Lord, when the poor, tost, afflicted Church shall enter into a triumphant estate, above all the violence & oppression of men. O blessed, & long looked for day of Christ's return to judgment, when the dust of the Saints, that for some thousand years past have been resting in hope, shall awake; and this earth and all the glory thereof, like a poor vain shew, disap­pear! O blessed and comfortable time, in which the saints shall then fully know what Heaven is, which they have so oft admired at a distance! shall behold his face, in whose presence is fulness of joy! and shall need no further confirmations of the truth of the word, when once this great promise of the Lord's return is verified, a promise; wherein all those precious truths, which concerned the Church in her journey, as so many streams, shall empty themselves in this great deep! Then there is no more to do, the work of the Gospel is finished, the redeemed all brought in, and the Bride made ready to go forth and meet him, who shall fully satisfy and comfort his [Page 351] People, according to the days of their former affliction, and be for ever their exceeding great re­ward.

THE FIFTH ARGUMENT.

THat which not only is for the most part already ac­complished, but is a thing whereof we have so sure confirmations, yea, so great a pledge in our hand from the Lord, that what yet remaineth shall be certainly ful­filled, must it not be an undoubted truth? But the Scripture, as to those special predictions that are not yet made out, is such, concerning which the Lord hath given his People a very large pledge and strong con­firmations, now in these latter times, to believe their certain accomplishment. Therefore, &c.

It is sure, that a part of the Scripture, some special prophecies, which do concern the state of the Church in these last times, hath not yet had an accomplish­ment; which are already touched in the former ar­gument, and are indeed so great concerning truths, that may cause us to sit down, and wonder, when we think these shall shortly come to pass! Yet such, whereof we may be fully perswaded, if we consider, that they are held forth and promised by him who is the God of truth, and the begun performance hereof now so manifest, yea, what hath been the Lord's way, and the eminent providences of these last times, which may fully satisfy our spirits, that God's work is near to a close, and the accomplishing of the whole Scripture now at hand.

I shall here point at some special grounds, whence the godly in these times may be throughly confirmed about the truth and certain fulfi [...]lling of the Scrip­ture, and those prophesies thereof, that yet are not fulfilled: which we should look on as a very con­vincing pledge in our hand of the same.

[Page 352] (¶) I. Is not the being of the world, yea, the heavens and the earth which we see, with the continued course of nature, given from the Lord, and held forth, to his people, as a witness to his truth, and a sure pledge to confirm their faith of its accomplishment? That when we look upon the heavens or the earth, we may there read a visible seal of the certain perform­ance of the whole Scripture of God, which for that very end are set before our eyes. We have this clear, Jer. 33. 20. that the Covenant with the day and the night is there given to the Church to confirm that Covenant betwixt the Lord & his people. This also is held forth, Jer. 31. 35. Thus saith the Lord, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the moon & stars by night, if these ordinances shall depart, then may the seed of Israel cease and fail from being a nation. It is also clear, Ps. 89. 2. That the faithfulness of God is esta­blished in the very heavens; and these given as a special convincing pledge, to confirm the faith of his people in the matter of his truth, and of the performance of his word: for which, we will find in ver. 37th of that Psalm the sun and moon given to the Church as a witness. Is not the rainbow also, Gen. 9. (though not natural, but an instituted sign, because there is no correspondence betwixt the sign, & the thing signified) given as a visible sign of the Covenant of God, to seal unto men the assurance of his word and promise?

I must think it strange, that we do not consider this world, and look on the frame thereof with more as­tonishment, yea, that it is not a greater and more marvellous thing in our eyes, if we would but think seriously, Whence it is, and how i [...] came to have a being! Let us suppose one were brought forth into the light, from a dark place where he had never seen it before, and there let his eyes wander a little upon the heavens and the earth, O what a dazling & amazing [Page 353] sight would that be! But it must be said, we look on these every day, yet know not how to read or understand what is written thereon: Oh this great universe is for the most part as [...] sealed book.

But for clearing of this truth, there are two things we should gravely consider. (1.) Something which must be previously known and believed, that those visible heavens and earth are the very work and pro­duct of this God, whose word and promise we have in the Scripture, and have their being and origi­nal from him: for otherwise there could be no rea­soning from these, about the truth of his word. (2.) We should also consider, what a convincing pledge is here, for confirming our faith of the Scripture, and of the sure performance of all that is yet remaining thereof to be accomplished.

As to the first, it might seem unnecessary so much as once to mention it, since it is so little questioned, or under debate; but oh! it is too clear, that many truths are easily admitted, which are not really be­lieved. I know the world would find it hard to shift so manifest a demonstration, that this universe is the work and product of the great God, when there is in it so bright a discovery of infinite power and wis­dom. Truly it is strange, how men could admit its being, who have denied its beginning, which not only by Faith we understand, but is most evident from solid grounds of reason: And though men are un­done with implicit faith and a common assent to the greatest fundamental truths, without any solid perswasion thereof, yet the greatest Atheists cannot keep off the discovery of this, but by keeping at a distance from it. Which truly Aristotle and others of those ancients did not so much deny the same, but not knowing the Scripture they could not know how it should be. Thence Epicurus and others of his followers [...] that they could not solve the Phaeno­mena [Page 354] of nature, and shun unanswerable absurdities, if they admitted an eternity of the world, did fall on such an irrational fancy, to avoid this, of the for­tuitous concourse of atoms; yea, some held an eter­nal praeexistence of the first matter: which pitiful no­tions may shew what sad case men are in, who grope after the truth by the twilight of nature, and are stran­gers to the Scripture. But I leave this, and shall only touch a little some most clear and satisfying evidences of this truth, that the beginning and original of the world is not more clear from the Scripture, then it is also demonstrable from solid convincing grounds of reason. And truly a clear, discovery of this hath a further reach, than may be apprehended, to give the Atheism of men a deadly stroke, and shake all its grounds. Now let these few things be seriously con­sidered, (1.) If you confess there is a Deity, that God blessed for ever is, must you not necessarily admit a creation and beginning? since eternity is a thing, that is only communicable to the first cause: and you can­not conceive that the earth could produce it self; for to exist, & not to exist at the same time, is a contradic­tion. And I am sure, they must shut their eyes, who do not every where discern some witness of the glo­rious being of God. (2.) You cannot deny, that there is such a thing as time; since there is no judging days & years & ages to be infinite, or how one thing in a continued order should go before another, without coming to some first & beginning.—(3) Does not this gradual advance of human knowledge in the earth and that further discovery which arts and sciences have made, by a continued improvement of the same, wit­ness very clearly a beginning and original of the world? For ye could not conceive a perpetual suc­cession of mankind, with a constant essay af­ter further knowledge, with such a continued pro­gress in experience, as an eternity (supposed before [Page 355] this) would produce, and yet the most concerning arts and sciences, yea, the choicest experiments and inventions we have in the world, to be of so late a rise and date; such as the use of printing, and of the Ma­riners compass by the load-stone, the use of guns, the improvement of minerals in Medicine; yea, the very motion and convoy of the blood in man's body; which are but of late discovery. (4.) May not so short a history which to this day we have of the world, witness its late Original, and that it is of no eternal duration? since the ancientest records of time, or of things past, do not exceed some thousands of years. And could this be possibly conceived, that infinite a­ges preceeding (if such had been) should give no account nor leave a remembrance to posterity, when these late ages holds so much forth? Yea, how could it be, that it is but of late one part of the world is known, and discovered to another part thereof? (5.) It is very manifest, from the known records [...] have of past times; what hath been the rise and increase of nations; yea, how a great part of men have from a rude and savage estate been brought into Society, and under laws and government; which shews, this world must be of a short duration; which none could conceive, by admitting such a supposal of it's eternal being.—(6) It is sure, man is born and dies, and in that ordinary way of generation mankind is still propagated: and is not here the world's beginning very obvious? For you canno [...] judge, that men should be­get other eternity, without going back at last to some first man, who could not beget himself.—(7.) If eter­nity be preferable to time, can you judge the excel­lentest things of the earth, such as man, and next unto him the beasts, are perishing, and only these things which are inanimate, and the mass of the earth whereon they tread, are of a perpetual duration?—(8) It is mani­fest, what an increase a few men (not to speak of other [Page 356] living creatures) may in an ordinary way have, to people a vast country, even in some ages. Now is it not thus clear, the world can be of no eternal dura­tion? For, if you should this way turn back on an infinite number of ages, and suppose that every age, should but add and multiply to the race of man two or three, it would come at last to this, the earth could not bear them: since we must thus suppose some infinite increase, from an infinite continuance of the world, which no wars or consuming strokes could in such a measure diminish.—(9.) Can you con­ceive that should be eternal, which is wholly made up of corruptible and perishing things? since the things of the world have all their set times and seasons, wherein they appear, and are quickly gone. In a word, must not men deny a dissolution of this world, or an after-judgment and life to come, yea, the whole truth of religion, if this great truth be not received and believed?

But having premised some few evidences, that may witness the original of the world, yea that this mar­vellous frame, with the whole continued course of na­ture, is the product of a divine power and wisdom: I shall here in the second place, point at some few things, which may shew how great a pledge this is, and what a quieting ground it should be to the faith of the godly, that the Scripture [...] certainly true, and must have an accomplishment; since from the very being and beginning of the world, we may clear­ly reason to those things which by undeniable conse­quence follow.

(1.) That the world now is, is a sure and confir­ming witness to its last close, and of the accomplish­ment of that promise of its dissolution in the end of time. We know, it is not long since there was no earth, no sun, moon or stars. Now, upon no less security than that word, by which it was formed, we must [Page 357] believe it shall ere long cease to be what now it is; and thus when we look upon the world, and see such a thing before us, ought we not to read that promise of its after dissolution, clearly written thereon before our eyes?—(2.) It is a very clear consequence, that this God, can bring his word unto performance, and his power therein cannot fail or fall short; yea, that his counsel and purpose hath no dependence on means or instruments, who did once bring this world out of nothing, and said, Let there be heaven and an earth, when there was none. O when we open the bi­ble, and read the great promises thereof, should we not have that impression on our souls, These are the true and faithful sayings of God, and his word, with whom the doing thereof is as easie as to say it; who without the concurrence of instruments, or any co­workers, could bring this great creation forth! We truly so far mistake the meaning of the heavens, and these great celestial bodies, with the marvellous or­der that is there, when we cannot read the truth and faithfulness of God in all his promises writ thereup­on: for they are held forth to men as a confirming pledge of the same; and this were indeed an excel­lent study and improvement of Astrology.—(3.) Since it is sure and undeniable, that this earth doth hang in the empty place, though men see not whereon it leans and rests, O what a strange thing is it! Could the air bear up so vast and ponderous a body! But herein is a marvellous divine power convincingly witnessed, which hath so established it, that it cannot be moved. Now, is not this his very word, that bears up such a weight? And thence, with as clear ground, we may reason for adventuring of the Church with its weight, and every Christian's burden, what­ever it may be, on the promise of this God, on whose word the great bulk of the earth doth this day lean. I must say, no mathematical demonstration does [Page 358] follow by a clearer evidence, than this consequence from such premisses is undenyable.—(4.) We see the Lord keeps covenant with the day and the night, yea, that summer and winter do not fail before him, according to his promise: and are not these a visible witness for God, that his truth and Covenant with his Church shall not fail? For it is sure, the con­tinued course of nature hath such an audible voice, if we could but listen thereto.—(5.) Does not the Lord clearly witness by such a strange contrariety that is a­mongst the elements, and those different qualities, whereof he serves himself, in this great frame and composure of the world, that this promise shall not fai [...], but it is easie for him to verify the same, in mak­ing all things work together, were they never so cross and disagreeing among themselves, for an ac­complishment of his design?—(6.) When we see the rage and violence of the great Ocean bounded by a bank of sand; for which there could be no true rea­son given, how such an impetuous and furious mo­tion could be restrain'd, and the sand be a bridle to the sea, if it were not to make out the faithfulness of God, who by a perpetual decree hath thus bounded it; O is there not thence a visible confirmation of his truth! that he can also restrain the rage of man, and turn it unto his praise, and for attaining this end, serve himself of most improbable means. It was a notable saying of a grave Minister of Christ, when he was upon the sea in a storm, O shall I fear (says he) the face of a tyrant, that serve him who can restrain and tame the rage of this swelling sea!—(7) If we consi­der the earth and its original, and look aright on that so oft repeated discovery we have of the seed-time and harvest, & of the earth bringing forth such innumera­ble kinds of vegetables in the spring, after a dead winter, as out of their graves, may we not thence have a very clear confirming seal of that great truth [Page 359] of the resurrection, and of the raising of the dust of men's bodies, that is buried under the earth? I shall but say, does not God thus give a continued wonder, and set the same before our eyes in the continued course of nature, to assure us of his truth and pro­mise, that it shall not fail, though there were no ap­pearance how in an ordinary way it could be accom­plished? (¶)

II. Ground, whence we may be thus confirmed in our faith is this; that not only the most part of the Scripture is already proved and verified in the event, but also Those truths, which of the whole Scripture are most strange and marvellous, yea, would have much stag­gered our faith, if they were yet still in a promise, are this day certainly accomplished. I shall but only instance in the coming of the Messias, which the Prophets of old foretold; that God should be manifest in the flesh, and a virgin bring forth a son, whose name should be Emmanuel, that was to dye and be cut off of out of the land of the living, not for himself, but for the transgression of his People: is not this now surely ac­complished? Which, we may say, is the greatest won­der, the most astonishing thing that ever was or shall be; and should fully silence our thoughts about any other Scripture-truth, that is yet to be made out. For we know, that the great business of redemption is put to a close; the ransome and price thereof fully told down; now is the doctrine of the Gospel sealed and attested by blood, even the blood of the Testator: it is now sure, the promised Messias hath come, and this is he, who in the days of Pilate suffered at Jeru­salem, in whom all things which were written by the Prophets, where truly accomplished. And is not this a great pledge, to assure us o [...] the real making out of every other promise? It is sure, he did dye, his blessed side was pierced with a spear, and upon the [Page 360] cross he cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. O here lieth the greatest cause of wonder; not what doth yet remain of the Scripture, but that which is already fulfilled; not that Christ should come again to judge the World, but that once he did come to the World, and become man! For God to be found in the form of a servant, and die, this is beyond expressi­on wonderful: for the other must necessarily as a con­ [...]ent follow, that he who hath redeemed the Church, and did pay her ransom, should see the travel of [...] soul, and be satisfied: that, having made such a purchase, he should also have possession, and finish the building, the foundation whereof was his own blood. I confess, what we do yet expect according to the pro­mise, are great and astonishing truths, the full overthrow of Antichrist and his Kingdom, that the dead bones of the Jewish Church should again live, but specially Christ's return to judgment, who shall be revealed from heaven with flaming fire, the sound of the trumpet, and voice of the Archangel: yet, how great soever they are, and may seem hard for us to believe, O how small comparatively are they with that which is already done and accomplished, the Incarnation of the Son of God, a mystery hid from a­ges, wherein the Angel's with wonder do look! Which, we may say, is unspeakably more great than to create this World, and turn it again to nothing. It may be truly strange, whilst we read these pro­phecies about Christ and his Kingdom, in so plain an history, and profess that we believe he did die and rise again, we should have such hesitation about the performance of any other Scripture promise. Is it not at this day much more easy, to believe the Scripture and fulfilling thereof, than it was of old for the Jew­ish Church before Christ's coming? And now may we not with as much assurance wait for the se­cond coming of the Lord, and a full perfecting of his [Page 361] word, even from that which is already verified there­of, as we are sure of the return of the sun after it is gone down, and of the breaking of the day when once the night is past!

III. Ground, whence the godly in these times should be confirmed about the full performance of that which is yet remaining of the Scripture, that it is sure, yea, now nea [...] at hand, is this, That Jesus Christ is come to action against the Enemies of his Church and hath taken the fields; that surely he is now gone forth in the greatness of his strength, conquering, and to conquer.

This is a grave truth, which might give us very sweet refreshing thoughts in so shaking a time, that whilst we have seen the Lord's appearing by a great and outstretched hand for his people, have seen those terrible stirs and concussions of the nations, have seen him strike through Kings in the day of his wrath, and fill the places with the dead bodies of his adversaries, we may also on clear Scripture-grounds conclude, that the Lord is now awaked as a mighty man, and upon the fields; yea, that the war is surely begun against Antichrist, and all the adversaries of his Church, which shall not cease until the full vic­tory be obtained. For indeed those providences which in these last times should be very affrightning and terrible, when we go into the word, we shall find they have a comfortable aspect on the Church, and do presage her greater enlargement; as the ten­der buds and leaves of the fig-tree are put forth to shew the summer's approach. Luke 21. 28. It is true, the Church is now low, and the work of God meets with very sad interruptions, which are needful, both for trial, and rebuke: But this also is sure, which none can deny, that the Lord hath emi­nently appeared, and done great things for his Church; [Page 362] yea, we must say, he hath by a confluence of very remarkable providences thus condescended to strengthen his people's hands, to confirm such who are ready to stagger, even as it were by crutches, about the greatness of these things which are yet pro­mised.

Now to clear this truth a little, we would con­sider, (1.) How it is very consonant to the Scrip­ture, and expresly held forth in the same, that in the last times, and turn of the Church's case from Antichrist, the Lord will thus appear, in his great strength, and set up his standard against his adversa­ries, yea, will then in a special way call forth his people, to glorify him by an active testimony. (2) That the Lord hath thus begun to appear, according to his word, is a truth that is also undeniable; and should much help to confirm our faith, about the performance of that which further remains of the Scripture.

(1.) That the Lord will thus appear in the last times, this is manifest from the word. To clear which observe, 1. Though the Church militant must not want an adversary, and some persecution from the World, even in her best estate: Yet we have a safe warrant to expect that the Lord will glorify him­self in a peculiar way in his people now in these latter days, by their doing and acting for the truth, as in for­mer ages his glory did most appear, during Anti­christ's Reign, in his Church's suffering; for then the faith and patience of his Saints was to be witnes­sed in its season, Rev. 13. 10. And thus he would serve himself of his people, and bring forth his glo­ry, until that time of retribution, when those who had killed with the sword, should be killed by the sword, and those who led unto captivity, be so dealt with: which doth also clearly promise some special out pouring of the Spirit, for acting with these gifts of courage and resolution, sutable to the service of the [Page 363] Church in the latter days. And truly I think it is a great defect, we study not more the accomplishing of the promises, and how to improve the same, for gifts, as well as grace, in order to the several times and ne­cessities of the Church.

2. It is very clear from the Scripture, that in the last days, when Christ is to raise his Church from under the power and tyranny of Antichrist, he shall then appear in a warlike posture. Which John had shewed to him, Rev. 19. 13, 14. as one at the head of his forces, with his vesture dipped in blood, to shew when once the war is begun against his adversary, and this Lion of the tribe of Judah begins to rouze himself up, what a terrible appearance he will have in that undertaking. And it is clear, that the Lord hath declared in this his counsel and will, that his Son Christ should in the latter times take unto himself his great power, and reign (Rev. 11. 17.) yea, cause the World to know him to be Head of principalities and powers, as well as of the Church. For his glory in this truth as a King, which former ages seemed in so great a measure to darken, must then clearly shine forth. I truly think, men's appearing with such violence and rage against so concerning a truth now in these days, doth pro­mise some eminent appearance of the Lord therein, and that he shall yet more solemnly assert the same before the World.

3. Doth not the Scripture point at the last times, as that special time of recompence for the contro­versy of Sion? to which the Lord hath reserved a so­emn triumph of his justice, over all his Church's enemies; when he shall inquire for the blood of his Saints, shed upon the earth since the days of Abel, at Babylon's hand (Rev. 18. 24.) that great adversary, who stands in law guilty, and hath served herself heir to all the violence and cruelty done in [Page 364] former ages. For in her hand must that cup be found full, which the enemies of the Church from the be­ginning have been filling up, and as so many rivers and fountains hath run into this great sea.

4. It is also clear, that in the last times, when the Lord shall bind up the breach of his people, and heal the strol [...] of their wound, who for so long a time had been trampled under by Antichrist, he shall by some signal providences roll away this reproach and scandal of meanness contempt, and persecution: shall put some glory on his Church, proportionable to its former abasement; yea, thus comfort her, ac­cording to the days wherein he had afflicted her, and cause his people's uprising, in measure and kind, to answer their low and suffering state from Anti­christ, even in the last time when the Lord shall make them appear with the face of a Lion, when the feeble shall be as David, and as the Angel of the Lord, Zach. 12. 8. Which promise doth clearly point at the Church's raising, and delivery from An­tichrist; upon the back whereof we find the Prophet doth foretell the last conversion, & incoming of Israel.

5. I shall only add what the Scripture doth most expresly shew, that the Lord shall so gloriously ap­pear in bringing his Church out of Babylon, and executing his judgment on that adversary, as in the day when he brought his people out of Egypt, and therefore shall they sing the song of Moses and the lamb, Rev. 15. 3. his great power and out stretched hand being no less discernable therein, than if they had been standing with Israel at the red Sea, when they saw their enemies lying dead upon the shore. Yea, have we not ground to believe, that the Lord shall make himself very evidently known in raising instruments, and acting them forth? Which hath been already seen; and I am sure, the World must confess what great things have been done by those of whom little was expected.

[Page 365] (2.) That the Lord hath thus begun to appear, and make himself known to the World in these last ages, according to his word, is a thing very easy to demon­strate. For,

1. Is it not clear, how in these last times he hath met his enemies upon their high places, and in their greatest strength? that by a strong hand he did make room for his truth, when both Law and force did withstand the same, and put the marks of his wrath on such who would oppose the spreading of his King­dom, so that they have been as visible, as sometimes their rage and violence against the Church was. Yea, since the Lord begun to lift up a standard for the truth, and call forth his People to act, hath it not been seen they have left their ground more by un­derhand-treaties, and turning aside to carnal politick shifts, than by open force and violence? Which the French Massacre, with other sad instances can wit­ness; for indeed the Church hath still lost least by greatest opposition.

2. Have we not seen by what dreadful shakings and alterations of the earth, this late glorious refor­mation of the Church from Antichristianism hath been ushered in? Which have been more strange, and frequent, than in many ages before. Hath not the Lord caused the Nations to shake, and the earth to [...] like a drunken man; to shew men that though [...] suffered long in former times of the World's [...], he will not so now bear with opposing his truth!

3. Have we not also seen the Lord's raising [...] fit for action, in these last times; [...] heroick spirit, with some more than [...] of the same to appear for his [...] may say, that many former ages could [...]; in which the Lord's helping his People to do great things, his suiting them with endowments for the ser­vice [Page 366] and work of the time, hath been most discer­nable! Was not that excellent man the Admiral of France, with many others in that place, eminently raised up, for the necessity of that time? And do we not find those Princes of Orange, William, and Maurice, and Mauritius of Saxony, whom the Lord raised against Charles the V. and caused him to flee-over the Alpes? Yea, what marvellous resolution and courage did attend the actings of the confederates of the Low Countrys? And in latter times do we not find G [...]llus King of Sweden, Bernard Duke of Weymar, Lantsgrave of Hesse, with many o­thers, eminently raised to avenge the Lord's quarrel a­gainst that bloody house of Austria? Have we not also seen very great instruments raised up in Britain and Ireland (who were followed with wonderful suc­cess) to act for the truth against Antichristian Pre­lacy? And truly we must say, the withdrawing in such a measure of that spirit of courage and resolution, which once was so visibly let forth in the first daw­ning of the Reformation, may sadly point at a great decay of zeal, self-confidence, & unfaithfulness as to the improving opportunities. For the Lord was with his People whilst they were with him, and did singly follow him in his way: but alass, with their departing, it may be said their strength hath de­parted from them. However, the quarrel is clear for an oppressed People's acting, upon so just, so necessary an account as the interest of Religion, against the cru­elty and violent encroachments of Antichrist, wherein, as the Lord hath eminently owned his People, so (I dare not question) he will yet appear, and silence the adversaries of this truth, by such an argument, against which they shall not debate.

4. That universal deluge of blood, which for the 100 years past hath overflowed much of Europe, can be a witness to this, that the Lord hath taken peace [Page 367] from men, who would not embrace the peace of the Gospel offered in these last times, and given his ene­mies who had shed the blood of the saints, blood to drink, in great measure. I am sure, poor Germany can prove this, which for 20 years together was a field of dead men; and France from the days of Henry the II. to the establishment of Henry the IV. How long was the Low Countries made a stage of war, where many a cruel Spaniard did fall under the sword of an avenging God; besides the late bloody wars in Britain, and Ireland. And what doth this declare, but that Jesus Christ hath taken the fields, and it will not be now with the Kings of the earth, to oppress his Church, and withstand the truth as in former times?

I shall but add, how wonderfully hath the Lord appeared in delivering his Church at the greatest extre­mity, hath turned his enemies counsels and designs upon themselves, brought about the great works of these last times by means so unexpected and impro­bable, that we may say, what of his judgment is already executed against Antichrist, hath been no less marvellous than that [...] walls should fall at the sound of a trumpet of [...]-horns; or a cake of barley bread tumbling into the host of Mi [...]i [...]n should smite and overthrow the same! Surely, when we consider what the Lord hath done, and how exactly that doth answer the Scripture, we may have much to confirm us about the further accomplishment of his word; and be assured, that the term of his long suffering to­wards Babylon is at an end, war is denounced, and the execution already begun, which must not have a close until judgment be accomplished into vic­tory.

IV. Ground, which may confirm the faith of the saints, & be as a pledge in their hand of the full accom­plishing [Page 368] of the Scripture, yea, that this is near, is this, That the day is now turned, and that prophesied victory, which the Church should have over Antichrist before the end, is not only begun, but in a great measure advanced.

This is indeed a great confirmation, when we see so marvellous a crisis in the Church's case, her recovery from so desperate and hopeless a disease already be­gun, that it shall be further perfected. We are apt to wonder at the greatness of those things yet promised, but why should we not also wonder at that which God hath already done for his Church, in our days? The Scripture doth shew, that Antichrist's ruin must begin by the word: that this stroke shall be gradual; and however that great work of God meet with much op­position, yet it shall no more go back in the whole. And must we not say, in all this the word is fulfilled; it hath not hitherto failed the Church, but the event in every circumstance is made to answer to the same?

Now to clear this, we would consider these two. First, that the Church's victory over Antichrist is this day so far advanced. 2. How the Lord's very imme­diate hand hath been most discernable therein.

The first I need but name, whilst it is To mani­fest, what the Lord hath wrought for his Church. For we have seen Kingdoms and Nations subject themselves to the truth: the kingdom of Antichrist grow dark, with the breaking out of the light, and many of his followers made to gnash their teeth, being scorched with the heat and power of the gospel; in how great a measure is that interest now shaken, if we consider what the Lord hath wrought, what a great reformation hath been in Britain and Ireland, thro' much of France, Germany, Sweden, the Low Countries, Poland, Denmark, yea, even in Hungary, and Transilvania! Sure this was a great work, which should be marvellous in our eyes, how that Anti­christian [Page 369] Empire, contrived with such wisdom, un­derpropt with so great strength, whose commands not long since were received as Oracles, with an awe and respect only due to God, hath in such a measure begun to fall before the Power of the word! O the righteous judgment of the Lord, which he hath shewed forth upon that adversary, and should be a pledge to us of the further manifestation thereof; an adversary, we may say, the greatest that ever the Church had: whose little finger hath been heavier than the loins of all who went before, if we consider his cruelty over men's bodies, tyranny over their consciences, with so long a continuance of that trial! in respect of whom it may be said, Pharaoh was an easy task-master; Antiochus and the Roman Emperors mild, who for near 1200 years did carry on a desperate and bloody war against the Church.

The second which I would at some more length prosecute, is this, How the Lord's hand and something of an extraordinary providence hath been no less discernable in this late raising of the Church, and her begun victory ever Antichrist, than in the first plan­ting of Christianity by the Apostles. This is a truth, which to many may seem strange: but when seriously con­sidered, if prejudice do not darken men's judgment, will appear from sure and solid grounds. Now to de­monstrate this, I would here offer some very convinc­ing WITNESSES, which may help to strengthen the faith of the Godly, and give Atheism some dash.

FIRST Witness to this truth, is that wonderful success which the Gospel in these last times hath had: wherein men must see the great power of God, and efficacy of the Spirit, in some measure as manifest, as in the first rise of the Christian Church, if we con­sider,

[Page 370] 1. From what a small spark, so great a fire did break out, which in a short time put Europe in a flame, and made so great a change therein, even Luther's ap­pearing against Texelius upon the account of his indul­gencies. O but God's time of working may be oft contrary to our time of expecting!

2. What a swift progress did the gospel have? may we not say with wonder, Can a nation be born at once! yet this we have seen, how many Nations and Cities in one and the same age, yea, in less than 40 Years, were brought into subjection to the truth; and those instruments whom scarce any durst own at first, made to see great Princes with armies on the fields for the interests of Christ.

3. Have we not seen Religion propagated by mar­tyrdom, no less than in the primitive times; and men's essays to ruin the Church, helping it further to grow? O what but a divine power could thus bring gold out of iron and clay, bring a flourishing Church out of their ashes, and turn her poison to a preserva­tive! But alas, it is sad, that whilst men were burned for the truth and reading the Scripture, then their affection did also burn in reading the same, but now with our liberty there is so great a decay.

4. Must not the wise and politicians of the World confess, this late increase of the Church is a thing a­ [...]ve their reach, most cross to all their rules which they cannot see how in an ordinary way it could be bro't about.

5. Were not instruments most unlikely for so great a work, if we would judge as men? That such a poor handful, as Luther, Zuinglius, Melanchton, Bucer, &c. should go forth to confront that power, which then made the earth to tremble, might it not seem as improbable, as the sending forth of some fishermen to subdue the Nations?

[Page 371] 6. It is known, they were none of the Rabbies of the time, whose repute and fame might have purcha­sed easy access, to their message: nay, they were loaded with all the reproach, which their adversaries could devise, with novelty of doctrine, deceit and falshood in their dealing, represented to the World as Monsters. Luther was forced to answer himself a printed relation of his death, how he was carried away soul and body by the Devil.

7. Was not the message they carried, most opposite to men's carnal inclinations, to these principles, they had suckt in from their infancy, to the religion of their Fathers; yea, in a word, had no outward en­couragements! The whole World seemed to combine against them; Luther, at his first appearance excom­municated by the Pope, prescribed by the Empe­rour: and good Melanchton was oft made to faint, when he thought on so great a storm of opposition: so that without the convoy of an extraordinary power, nothing could have looked more improbable.

SECOND Witness, that may let the World see a wonderful providence in this late raising of the Church, is this, Those sharp assaults which the Church met with, from a party, no less cruel and powerful, than any adversary which the Church had in the primitive times. For I am sure, the World must confess, that no ordinary means had wanted for an essay, to crush the gospel in its first budding forth; that both counsel and force, the authority of Law, backed with greatest rage and violence in its execution, yea, the Power of the Princes of the earth, were put forth to the utmost, to withstand this great work of God in these last ages. To clear this, I shall only point at some remarkable assaults which did attend the dawning of the gospel, that may shew something above nature going along with it.

[Page 372] 1. We find a Spanish Emperor, devoted to the Po­pish interest, & more powerful than any who went be­fore, brought in on Germany with the very first break­ing out of the light, which might seem a dreadful hin­drance to the Gospel's spreading.

2. The rise of the Boores, and Anabaptist party, whose being so gross, & destructive to civil order, to the interests and proprieties of men, did look like a sad incident, and a probable means to beg [...]t much prejudice against the truth.

3. That sad overthrow of the Duke of Saxony, and Landgrave of Hesse, who were such great patri­ots to the Church, did then threaten the very ruin of the Protestant interest in Germany.

4. The Councel of Trent, where the Popish party had all their politicks on foot in a strong combina­tion, how to ruin the Church.

5. The Interim of Germany, a most subtile contri­vance to divide, and thus break the strength of the Protestants, was also a sore assault, a snare to some, and cause of persecution to others.

6. That Spanish Inquisition, established through Spain, Italy, and the Low Countries, a horrid cruel engine which did reach to pevent the smallest glancings of the truth.

7. The French Massacre, where not only the Ad­miral, but most of the considerable Protestants were through all France in a few days cut off. O would not this seem an irrecoverable stroke! together with that Catholick league, which did quickly follow upon the back thereof, a very strong and formidable combination to root out the Protestant interest.

8. The taking away of Edward the sixth, of En­gland, and establishing of a cruel persecuter, Queen Mary, did indeed look like a stroke that should root out the Church in that part, and destroy that famous plantation of the Gospel, in its tender growth.

[Page 373] 9. I must add, that which was as sore an assault to the Church as any, so greivous a difference which with the first breaking out of the work of Reformati­on did begin betwixt Luther and Zuinglius, about Christ's presence in the Sacrament; yea, come to such an height and with so great heat and animo­sity was followed, as in appearance would have whol­ly frustrated the work they were about.

THIRD Witness to this truth is that wonderful patience and resolution of the Saints, yea, with much chearfulness in their greatest sufferings, which in these late times did appear. Wherein the world must confess, that same immediate support from Heaven, yea, the Lord's owning his People in a very extraordinary way, was no less manifest, than in those primitive suffer­ings of the Church from heathens. Sure, no past times, even in those bloody days of Nero! Domi­tian, &c. can shew more horrid, more strange en­gines of torment and cruelty, than what in these last ages the Church did endure from the Popish party: whose savage and barbarous usage of the poor flock of Christ, where ever they had access, may witness a cruelty more than human. And as to the number, are they not almost without reckoning, who in France, Germany, Britain, and the Low Countries, beside other parts, were slain within this 150 years, for the word of God, and the testimony of his truth? Now, as this is most manifest, it is also known what a divine and an invincible spirit, with an asto­nishing courage, and resolution, did appear in the carriage of the People of God, under this sore perse­cution; how they triumphed over their oppressors, and did chearfully meet death in its most terrible shape; a thing which the Schools of Socrates and Plate with all their rules could never reach: yea, should be reckoned amongst the miracles of these [Page 374] latter days. About which we would consider these things.—

1. That something more than nature, a spirit and resolution above the ordinary rate of men, yea, some thing much above themselves, their own natural temper and disposition, did in their most extream sufferings oft appear; and this without the least shadow of af­fectation, and deceit. I am sure, the World in these last ages, yea, the conscience of their persecutors, and of the greatest Atheists, must witness this.

2. That many of the most soft & tender disposition, many women, whose complexion would declare more weakness than others, yet in this late Antichristian persecution did endure greatest torments, and by suffering triumphed over the fury and rage of their adversaries; whereof we have many instances upon record.

3. The World hath been also witness, how serious and deliberate the Saints were in this, that they made suffe­ring their choice; which they could easily have shun­ned, at the rate of yielding something in the truth: but ere they would do this, or give the adversary such a bribe, they chose to embrace death, and go to a stake for Christ, even when they wanted not most perswading offers to turn them aside. For instance, I would here mention that excellent man in Queen Mary's time, Julius Palmer, who not only had life, but preferment offered, if he would recant; to which his answer was, that he had quitted his living in two places for Christ, and now was ready to yield his life also on that account. Likewise one William Hunter, whom Bishop Bonner did urge with many offers to recant, told him, it must be by Scripture, and not perswasions of that kind; for he reckoned all earthly things but dross and dung in respect of Christ; and at the stake, when a pardon by the She­riff was offered upon such an account, did peremp­torily [Page 375] reject the same. Antonius Riceto, a Venetian, who condemned for the truth had a large offer to have his patrimony restored, which was much mortgaged with debt, and made free, besides his life, if he would but a little yield, and likewise had his son weeping on him for that cause, gave this answer, he was resolved to lose both Children and estate for Christ. I shall add what we have related of one Herwin, who suffered in the Low countries, to whom the Magistrates made great intreaties with large promises to recant, which he wholly slighted. Many more instances of this kind here might be set down.

4. It is known, that such who were of great re­pute in the World, and had a large share of outward things to tempt them, did in these last times most chearfully part with the same, and chose rather suf­fering for the truth. We may instance those two great witnesses, John Frederick of Saxon and the Landts­grave of Hesse, who under that long imprisonment by Charles the 5 bare out many sharp assaults, both by threatnings and offers, without yielding in the least to the prejudice of the truth; yea, on this account did the Duke of Saxon forego his estate and dignity. Annas Du Burg, counsellour of the Parliament at Paris, of great parts and repute, who before Hen­ry the II. had an excellent speech in Parliament, for the Protestant party, for which by him being im­prisoned, did forego all his honours and interests in the World (which otherways he might have kept) and embraced death for Christ. The Prince of Condee at the massacre of Paris, when the King expresly shewed him he should within 3 days die, if he did not renounce his Religion, told him, his estate and life were in his hand, but ere he re­nounced the truth he would quit both. Charles de Zer [...]ton, a Moravian Barron, of great interest and au­thority [Page 376] in that country, in the late Bohemian persecu­tion did quit all his estate and possession for the Gospel, notwithstanding of many large offers and perswasions. We find also in England the Dutchess of Suffolk, a lady who lived in the fulness of the world and pleasures thereof, yet in Queen Mary's time, did quit both estate and country for the truth, and on that account did choose a very hard lot in o­ther parts.

5. Is it not also known, how those who had been rea­dy to faint, & to be overcharged with discouragment, yet at death, in the extremity of their suffering, did shew a marvellous resolution and chearfulness? A thing which no Atheist can possibly answer, & sheweth God's very immediate support. Mr. Glover, how sore was he cast down, and could feel no joy or comfort after much wrestling; but no sooner did come in sight of the stake, but his soul was filled with the joy of the Lord, and with his strength, which forced him to clap his hands, and cry forth to a friend who knew his former damp, and discour­agement, Oh Austin, he is come, he is come! and thus chearfully went to death. Thomas Hudson, a choice Christian who suffered in Queen Mary's time, when at the stake, did slip suddenly from under the chain, to the astonishment of the People; yet not from fear of death, but from the want of feeling of Christ, which made him full of heaviness: but after his tur­ning aside, that he had got his soul poured out to God, he returned as one raised from death to life, crying out, Now I am strong, and do not care what man can do! and thus with much joy did yield up his spirit. Likewise Annas du Burgh, whom we before mentioned, being through fear and discouragement drawn to recant, had no rest in his spirit until he retracted the same, and after did chearfully undergo death. With what marvellous resolution did that ex­cellent [Page 377] man, Doctor Cranmer, put his right hand to the fire when he came to the stake, and suffered it to burn without shrinking, which (as he said) he would punish for subscribing a recantation, which was so much thereafter his grief!

Last I must add, that marvellous joy and reso­lution, which the Saints in these late times did in their greatest sufferings shew, is very evident, and known to the world; for their suffering was not in a corner, and we may say, hath not come short of the primitive Martyrs, but did witness the same spirit and power accompanying them. I cannot pass this in a general, without giving some touch, amidst such a multitude of convincing instances. Let us hear blessed Bradford at the stake thus speak to his fellow-suf­ferer, Be of good comfort, for we shall have this night a merry supper with the Lord. Latimer to Ridley, We shall this day light such a candle in England, as I trust shall never be put out. Mr. Sanders, I was in prison until I got into prison; and at the stake embracing, cries, Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life. Dr. Farrer, to a gentleman who bemoaned his death, and the painfulness of it, If you see me once stir in the fire, believe not my doctrine: as did after appear, for he stood without moving in the the midst of the flame John Ardley,—If every hair of my head were a man, it should suffer death, in the faith I now stand in.—Elizabeth Folks embracing the stake, cried, Farewel World, farewel faith and hope, & welcome love,—Ro­bert Aguries son, when at Lile in the Low countries he suffered with his father for the truth, in the year 1556. did cry forth at the stake, Behold millions of Angels about us, & the heaven opened to receive us! af­ter he had sometime fixed his eyes on heaven: and when the fire was kindled, says to his father, Yet [...] very little, and we shall enter into the heavenly mansion. Mr. Tims, an English minister in Queen Mary's days, [Page 378] thus writes to his friends, "I am going to the Bi­shops coal-house, but shall not be long there before I be carried up to my brethren, who are gone to heaven before me in a fiery chariot; follow you after me, where you shall find me singing merrily at my jour­ney's end, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.—Alge­rius, an Italian martyr thus writes from his prison a lit­tle before his death, Who would believe that in this dun­geon I should find a paradise so pleasant! in a place of sorrow and death, tranquillity, and hope of life! where others weep, I rejoice. O how easy and sweet is his yoke! And this he subscribes from that delectable orchard of the Leoline prison. Guy de Bres, The ringing of my chain hath been sweet mus [...]k in my cars; all my former discour­ses were but as a blind man's of colours, in respect of my present feeling. O what a precious comforter is a good con­science! The Lord Henry Otto, a Bohemian, who suf­fered in the late persecution, said to the minister, I was troubled, but now I feel a wonderful refreshment. O now I fear death no longer, I will dye with joy; and on the scaffold cryed out, behold, I see the heavens opened: pointing with his hands at the place where others ob­served a certain brightness that did dazzle their eyes; and thus died with great chearfulness I shall but add the last words of that holy and great Mr. Wishart, who thus spake amidst the fire, This flame doth torment my body, but no whit abate my [...].

FOURTH Witness is, these great and remarkable judgments of God, which in these last times have befallen the adversaries and [...] of the Church, who have been most notorious for their opposition to the truth; therein we must say, a divine hand hath been so dis­cernable, that ordinary observers could not pass the same without a remark, but must acknowledge the righteous judgment of God, that it cometh not by guess and at an adventure, but doth convincingly seal the word.

[Page 379] This is indeed a grave subject, wherein we should be very serious and sober; for the judgments of God are a great depth, nor can we determine from events but in so far as they answer to the word. It may sometime happen to wicked men according to the work of the righteous; but on the other hand it is a sure truth, that God is known by the judgment he executes, and in every age doth point out sin to the World by remarkable strokes, some great examples of judgment, which as a beacon are set forth for men to observe. And truly we may say, those remar­kable instances of the judgment of God, since he begun to found a retreat to his Church from Babylon, are far beyond other preceeding ages. I would be sparing to repeat what of this kind is published by others, but that in speaking to this truth, I cannot pass it in a general, whilst there are so many instan­ces wherein the Lord hath made himself known, and these such a convincing seal and confirmation of the truth. And in the following relations, I dare with confidence say, there is not any passage or matter of fact, here set down without some clear and satisfy­ing grounds as to the certainty thereof.

I shall first instance Charles the V. whose under­takings for many years were followed with success, until once he set himself to persecute and oppress the Church, and bathed his sword in the blood of the Protestants, with his cruel and unjust usage of the Duke of Saxony; from which time his affairs be­gun visibly to decline, he is forced to fly before Mauritius, and seek a retreat in the furthe [...] confines of the empire, and after broken with melancholy and discontent, like another Dioclesian, doth resign his empire, and turn to a private life.

Philip the II. of Spain, one of the greatest persecu­tors of the Church in these last ages, whose work was to root out the Protestant Religion in his domi­nions, [Page 380] and therefore set on foot that horrid engine of the Inquisition, yet at last finds all his essays fru­strated, and after the loss of many millions of trea­sures, and of some 10000 lives by war yea, of a considerable part of the Netherlands, and after the breaking his great Armado at sea against the English by a very remarkable stroke from Heaven, is at last smitten of the Lord in his body by a strange disease, or rather a confluence of diseases, which his phisici­ans could neither understand, nor cure; his body fal­ling out in grievous boyls, whence (besides putrid matter) there did issue such abundance of Vermin, that standers by could hardly cleanse, or endure the horrid smell thereof. And he who had put so ma­ny of the Saints to cruel torments by the Inquisition, was himself tormented, for 2 years together, with unexpressible pain and anguish.

Henry the II. of France, a most violent enemy to the Church, whilst he had caused sentence of Annas De Burg to death, having solemnly protested in such words, These eyes of mine shall see thee burnt; a little before the appointed time of his execution, running in the lists with a spear against Count Montgomery, it pierced through the eye, with such a wound, that in a short time sent him to his grave, and [...] his expectation of seeing the death of that excellent man. His son Charles the IX. that bloody persecutor, I shall mention elsewhere how remarkably the judg­ment of God did pursue him.

Henry the III, who (whilst he was Duke of Anjou) did assist at that horrid Counsel kept at St. Cloud, near Paris, where the Massacre was conclu­ded, is some years after stabbed to death by a Jacobin frier in that very chamber: a thing which Du Serres doth twice mention with a remark, as a marvellous instance of the judgment of God.

[Page 381] The Duke of Guise, the great executioner of that Massacre, and his brother the Cardinal, a special contriver of the same, are not long after killed by Henry the III. at Blois, with whom they had oft joyned in Counsel, to root out the Protestants; and which is very observable, by a specious show of friendship were circumvented, and with solemn Oaths and promises as teacherously reached, as the Admiral and Protestants by Charles the IX. were at Paris: and these two who were his great Counsel­lers, thus are dealt with, having blood measured out to them for blood, and treachery, as they had dealt treacherously with the Saints.

We find also the Duke of Aumale, who was a joynt actor with the Duke of Guise in that massacre, doth a little after fall by a shot off the walls at the siege of Rochel; which not only Du Serres but also Davilla, who was very popish, doth particularly relate; where we may see, what a bloody end the great contrivers and actors of that horrid massacre had.

Henry the IV. a Prince of excellent parts and great natural accomplishments, was followed with marvellous success, whilst he owned the truth: yet, after many victories and the breaking of the Catho­lick League, turns popish, and abjures the protestant Religion; but lo, within a little he is stabbed in the mouth by a Jesuit. On which, a protestant Gentleman used this freedom with him, Sir, you have denied God and his truth with your mouth, and he hath given you there a stroke; take heed you deny him not also with your heart, lest the next stroke be there! Which as the French History sheweth, did accord­ingly fall out, when he was stabbed by Ravilack; Du Serres his own Historiographer doth shew it was through the very heart: and it was too evident, that sometime before his death he had turned cordial and zealous for the popish interest.

[Page 382] Ferdinand the II. a great persecutor of the Church in Germany, who after his victory over Frederick and the Bohemian States, made it his work to root out the Church and Protestant Religion there, and turned that country unto a bloody shambles; not sparing any rank, who would not abjure the truth: but a short time after, we find the avenger of blood (in whose sight that of his Saints is precious) pur­sueth him, raiseth up the Swedes for an adversary, un­der whose sword most of those cruel wretches, that were the Bohemian scourge, do fall, turneth Germany) and the Emperors countries into a field of blood; break­eth that great army, which for many years had given Law to Germany, so that (as some historians menti­on) an army of 24000 Captains, because all old ex­pert soldiers, was broken in the plain fields with a huge slaughter; yea, the violence and cruelty of the popish party was thus measured out to them, as they had measured to the poor Church of Bohemia, and the Palatinat; and Ferdinand the Emperor broken with breach upon breach, that men may see the judgment of God pursuing a bloody persecutor.

Those barbarous cruel Irish, who of late carried on that horrid Massacre there, sparing no Protestants, what ever was their age or rank, without compassion to women or children, O how visibly did the judg­ment of the Lord reach them, and for that savage blood shed give them blood to drink in great measure! their chief leader Maeguier, Machune, and after Philomy Oneale taken, publickly executed, most of them consumed by the sword, their spirits so debased, that a few English or Scots Soldiers would have chased multitudes of them; so that the world might see di­vine vengeance eminently pursuing them, which in a few years did root out most of that cruel generation.

We have an observable instance also [...] of Sir James Hamiltone, natural brother to the Earl of Arran [Page 383] who in King James the V. time was by the popish Clergy promoted against such as were then suspected of favouring the Protestant Religion, in which place he was most terrible and cruel against all he could reach, yea, so violent that some of his near kinsmen were by him brought under the lash of his power: But lo, when at his greatest height, whilst he is ma­king it his work to crush the Gospel in its budding forth, this is made the means of his ruin, and by one of his friends whom he pursued on the account of Religion, he is accused of treason, and notwithstan­ding of the solicitation of the Popish clergy for him as their great Patriot, he is presently arraigned, beheaded and quartered in the publick street of Edinburg.

It is also known, what violent persecutors Cardinal Beaton & his successor Bishop Hamilton were, who were no less conspicuous instances of the judgments of the Lord in that time: also what befel one frier Cambel, who did bitterly rail on that excellent man Mr. Patrick Hamilton when he was burnt at St. Andrews, to whom Mr. Hamilton at the stake in great vehemency said, "Wicked man, thou knowest the contrary, and hast sometime professed the same, I appeal thee to answer before the judgment-seat of Christ." And within a few days after (which in that time was well known) this frier fell sick, and in great horror of conscience, as one mad, died.

There are indeed many such remarkable instances. It is known, how the judgment of God did pursue those three great Apostates from the truth, Olivares Chancel­lour of France, Latomus, and Francis Spira, who af­ter they had quitted their profession, and against their light denied the truth, died with great horror of con­science, crying out to standers by, what a hell they found within them! Du Serres doth shew, how that Chancellour of France, thro' the torment and an­guish of his mind, caused the very bed to shake un­der [Page 384] him [...] since there are many examples of this kind already upon record, I do the more briefly touch it; and shall only add some few which are worthy of a remark in our own land (Scotland) how visibly the Lord did pursue by his judgment some who had de­serted the truth, and turned opposers and persecu­tors thereof in their promoting Antichristian Prela­cy, contrary to their former profession and engage­ments.

1. I shall instance Mr. Patrick Adamson, a Preacher once of great repute in this land, but one whom am­bition and private interest swayed more than the interest of Christ, who insinuating himself in the King's favour, made it his work to overturn the esta­blished government and discipline of the Church, un­til he got himself settled Archbishop of St. Andrews, and Prelacy by his means advanced, which the Church from her first Reformation from Popery had disclaimed; yea, in this height of his power and grandeur, turned an avowed persecutor of his brethren: at which time he used to boast of 3 things that he said could not fail him, his riches, learning and the King's favour. But a little after, as was then most known, he was by the righteous judgment of God brought to this pass that his parts did so far wi­ther and dry up, that in seeking a blessing on his meat he could scarce speak a few words of Sense, though once admired for his eloquence: as for his riches, he was forced to get charity from those Mi­nisters whom he before persecuted: and for the King's favour, he was so abhorred by him, that as he himself professed when the stroke of God brought him to some sense of his condition, he was sure the King did care more for the worst of his dogs than for him. And thus in great misery he died, cast off by the World whose favour he had only sought. His publick ac­knowledgement of his guilt and apostacy, and of the [Page 385] Lord's hand pursuing the same, was by himself sub­scribed, before divers eminent and worthy Ministers of the Church, who did also by their subscription attest the same, and was afterwards printed.

It is also manifest, how the Lord in his judgment did pursue that wretched man, his successor, Bishop Spotswood, who in a more subtile way did endeavour the overturning the discipline and liberties of the Church, for setting up of Prelacy, and by under­hand-dealing got himself first thrust into Glasgow, and after to be Archbishop of St. Andrews, yea, at last was chancellour of Scotland, his eldest Son a Bar­ron in Fife, and his second Son President of the Session, his Daughter also married to Rosline then a con­siderable Barron. But let us see where this ends, what an eminent example in all these respects of the judgment of God, he was, and therein the prophecy of that great man Mr. Welsh accomplished, who did foretel in a letter, whilst he was prisoner at Black­ness, that he should be as a stone cast out of a sling by the hand of God, his name should rot, and a malediction on his posterity. And truly this is known what become of him in the year 1638. How he was excommunicated by the Church; did flee into England, where in great misery he died; his eldest Son, Sir John Spotswood, was sometime brought to beg his bread, which is known to many yet alive; his se­cond Son, who was President of the Session, being taken at the battel of Philip-hauch, was beheaded at St. Andrews, and his Oy young Darzie beheaded at Edinburgh; and for his daughter who was mar­ried to Rosline it is known, how quickly after, that estate was rooted out, and turned from that race.

Mr. James Nicolsonne, one very eminent in his time for parts, and judgment in the affairs of the Church, yea, once very zealous for the truth, and a great op­poser of Prelacy, when it first begun to assault the [Page 386] Church, but at last was turned aside, by Court-in­sinuations gets the Bishoprick of Dunkel; yea, turns most forward to promote that interest. But lo! in a short time he is stricken by the Lord with sickness, and great horror of conscience within, can get no rest, his friends in vain endeavouring to comfort him; and when they would have brought physicians, he told them, his disease was of another kind, for which they could give no physick, which pressed him more then his sickness, that against so much light and against his conscience he had opposed the truth, and yielded up the liberties of the Kingdom of Christ, to please an earthly King: and he charged his Children, that nothing which he had acquired since he was Prelate, should go amongst the rest of his estate. And thus in great bitterness and grief he died, where­upon his brother in Law Mr. David Lindsey, then a witness, made some Verses in Latin.

S [...]l [...]tur frustra, conjunx, solantur amici,
Et medicum accersi, sedule quisque jubet.
Sed dare solamen nemo, dare nemo salutem,
To pr [...]ter p [...]terit, Rex Jacobe, mihi,
Que corpus gravat, atque animam, tantum exime mitr [...]
H [...]ic caput, hujus onus me premit, & perimit.

Mr. William Couper, sometime minister of Perth, one who witnessed much zeal against Prelacy, both by preaching and writing; in a letter to Mr. George Graham, who had writ to him entreating his charity towards his own conforming, he hath these words,—Sir, for your self I never hated you, but the course you are in I never loved: how dangerous is their estate, who cannot rise, but with the fall of many who in Christ have entred the right way to the ministry; closing these fountains, which God hath opened? Doing in a mat­ter of conscience with doubting, turns men's lights to dark­ness; [Page 387] whence follows induration: therefore I cannot stand with you, except to witness to God in my heart against you. And thus shuts up his letter, Consider your self, where you was, and where you now are, & quantulum sit illud propter quod nos reliquisti. This I set down, to shew what sometimes he was: yet shortly after, this man turns to a Bishoprick, was loathed by the Godly in that time, some of his old friends brought his own sermons to him, and desired him to reconcile them with his af­ter-actings, which did visibly affright and disquiet him; and one day being at pastime near to Leith, he was suddenly terrified with apprehension that he saw ar­med men coming upon him: those who were with him, told him, there was no such thing, it was only a dream; whereupon he became silent, and fell a trembling; but after he went home, took bed and died in much anguish and trouble of spirit, being observed to point oft with his finger to the earth, crying out these words, A fallen Star! a fallen Star! It was also known, how for divers years he had been seized upon with an Hypochondriack distemper, ap­prehending he was all glass; whereupon worthy Mr. Simson of Sterling who had sometimes been his familiar, hearing of his Court-advancement, had this line.—

Aureus, hex! fragilem confregit mallous ur [...]m.

A very convincing instance of the judgment of God in that time, was one Mr. Andrew Foster, Mi­nister at Dumfermling, who being sent Commissioner to the Assembly at Glasgow 1610, and solemnly ad­jured, as be should answer to Jesus Christ, by his bre­thren, not to consent to any alteration of the govern­ment of the Church, yet notwithstanding voted for Prelacy, having got 50 Marks from the Earl of [...] (who made use of that argument to break [Page 388] some of these wretches) a small sum indeed to sell the cause of Christ, and by him very dear bought. For after his return, he falleth into sickness, and upon his recovery from that was seised with horror of con­science, so that he run out of the pulpit whilst he was going to preach, confessing he had sold Christ at that Assembly for money; that being poor and having a numerous family, he had chosen rather to make haste, than believe; and thus laid aside his ministry, request­ing Mr. John Murrey, who then was silenced by the Bishop, that for Christ's sake he would take the charge of that place. After which he fell into a great dis­traction, and became in some measure mad: and though he did something recover, yet died in great infamy, poor, and drowned in debt, a very convincing example of the judgment of God. This, old Mr. Row of Car­nock, being then a minister in the same Presbytery, sets down under his hand, which he most certainly knew.

I shall only add two remarkable instances of the Lord's judgment within these few years, that should not be past without a remark.

The First relates to a considerable family in this country, who made it their work to trouble and persecute the Minister of that Parish, an eminently holy and faithful man; yea, upon the account of his faithfulness the old Laird of that house out of malice doth pursue him with a false libel before the Synod, using all means he could to reproach his name, having it as his design, either to get him broken and put out of the Parish, or at least to crush his spirit, and weaken him in the exercise of the ministry; but doth there meet with a disappointment, the Lord clear­ing the innocence of his servant, and the malice of the other, so that even such who other ways wanted not a prejudice at him, were forced to acknowledge this; at which time that Gentleman, whilst he went to the stable where his horses were, being then [Page 389] at the Synod upon that account, is in the place stric­ken with sickness, forced to haste home and take bed, and there seized with horror of conscience, which made him oft cry, intreating most earnestly for his Minister whom he had thus persecuted, and oft had these words, O to see his face, yea, told his friends that if he would not come to him, they should carry him to his house; but his Lady out of malice did in a most rude and violent way hinder the Minister's ac­cess to him, and thus that poor Gentleman in great horror and anguish dieth. After his death his Lady doth still pursue the quarrel, with no less malice, until she also falleth sick, and therewith had much terror upon her conscience; yea, did no less cry out for the Minister, who then was providentially absent, so that she was put to cry, and in that denied, which she did hinder to her poor husband; though at last, he came to her before her death, to whom she with much bitterness confessed her wrong. After this a young man their chaplain, who had been engaged by them to appear as a witness against that godly man, was so terrified in his conscience, that he could get no rest until he went to the next Synod, to acknow­ledge that horrid sin in bearing false witness against his Minister; but being there kept by some from a publick appearance, he went to another part of the country, where, it is certainly reported, he died distracted. Now last of all the young Laird, who did succeed in that estate, would needs pursue the quarrel, and finding more access, through the change of the time, did so endeavour with some who were in power, that an order was past for banishing him out of that Parish: and though he was then otherways staged, upon the account of the publick cause yet, it was known, the violent pursuit of that Gentleman was the main cause of this sentence, which those who had hand in passing it, did themselves confess. For he [Page 390] had solemnly sworn, that if he lived in that place, that man should not be Minister there: but lo! a few days after, having returned to his house, and boasting, how he had kept his word, and now got his Minister cast out of the parish, he was suddenly struck by the Lord with an high fever, which plucked him away in the very strength of his years. This I had rela­ted, as it is here set down, from a grave Christian, the party himself being present, which he did humbly decline to relate, though he could not but assent thereto.

The Second is one David Macbryar, who was a member of the late Parliament, being one of the com­missioners of the Burrowes, a man most notorious in the country where he lived for a lewd and gross prac­tice, but most remarkable and known beyond others for his violence and rage against the Godly, as he shewed by his carriage, both in the Parliament, and afterwards where he could have access, did set him­self to trouble and persecute such under that reproach­ful name of Fanaticks; but within some time there­after, whilst we was forced to retire by reason of debt, for fear of caption, he was found one day walking alone, by one who was then come out of the North to that country, and had ridden forth, to see if he could catch any of that party whom he judged was then lurking, and supposing upon his rencounter that he was surely one of these, would needs appre­hend him, but he upon his resistance and strugling against him was by him run through with a sword, and immediately killed on the place, upon that very ac­count, and perswasion, that he was a Fanatick, and Rebel, as he then termed him. Thus he who had declared himself an enemy to the people of God, whom he was wont in reproach to call Fanaticks, was himself under that very notion and upon that ground cut down by one of his own stamp and princi­ples. [Page 391] O was not this the finger of God, and a convinc­ing proof of his righteous judgment!

FIFTH Witness, which holds forth the Lord's eminent appearing, and something of an extraordi­nary power, in the late raising and reformation of the Church from Antichristianism, is this, that large measure of the Spirit, and outpouring thereof, which did convincingly follow the Gospel and ministry of the word in these last times; a truth which, we must say, hath been manifest, and by many solemn proofs thereof de­monstrated, no less than in the first planting of the christian Church.

It is undeniable, how great a witness to the truth, the Spirit and down-pouring thereof is. For this is God's own seal, which is not put to a lie, or fals­hood. Thus he bears witness to his work in the hearts of his people, and by this also the Lord doth seal and attest the doctrine of the Church, and the commission of his servants who publish the same; yea, at some special seasons, as when the truth hath least countenance or encouragement from without, times of contradiction when men will not receive its testimony, and a strong current of opposition is to the Gospel, then hath this in a more full [...] mea­sure been discernable. Thus did the [...] own and confirm the Christian Religion [...] the days of the Apostles, and for some follow [...], by so great a downpouring of the Spirit, [...] visible and extraordinary effects thereof as did then astonish the World, and force men to confess something a­bove nature, that this was surely the great work and power of God: and have we not also cause to say, that thus the Lord hath born a very solemn testi­mony to his truth, the work of reformation, and doctrine of the reformed Churches, in these late times? about which I dare appeal to observers, yea, [Page 392] the adversaries, to their own conscience, if without shut­ting their eyes they could shift the conviction of a convincing appearance of God, in the power and ef­ficacy of the Spirit, even in a more than ordinary way accompanying the word and ordinances; pow­er, which carried kingdoms and cities before it, yea, in a very short time against the greatest violence and opposition. To clear this a little, I shall point at some few remarkable Evidences, which might stare the grossest of men in the face, & in some measure convince them of this truth.

1. It is evident, that marvellous conquest which the Gospel had in Germany, by the ministry of Lu­ther, Melanchton, Bucer, Martyr, Musculus, and a few others of those excellent instruments, whom the Lord then sent forth. O was not this a day of the Spirit, and the pouring forth thereof in a large measure, a day of the gospel's triumph, not by might, or by power; yet such as before it the World could not stand! cities and countrys might then be said to be born at once; the arm of the Lord revealed with the same, that men were either scorched, or truly war­med and gained thereby. Did not that marvellous power and efficacy of the Spirit also attend the mi­nistry of Zuinglius, and Oecolampadius, in Zuri [...]k, and Basil, when so through a reformation follow­ed, to the throwing down of Images, abolishing of the Mass by publick authority, notwithstanding of its long continuance; and all this in a short time! The Spirit, and power of God did very eminently appear also, in those famous plantations of the Gospel by the Ministry of Calvin, Farel, and Viret in Geneva, L [...]usanna, and other adjacent Provinces. It is writ­ten in the life of Viret, that at Lyons, which was a great populous city, he preached in an open place, where divers thousands were converted to the truth; yea, some who came by with no purpose to hear, [Page 393] only out of curiosity stepped in, were so wrought and overcome with the power of the word, as for that time made them even neglect their other business.

2. That great success, which did attend the ministry of Mr. Wishart in Scotland, can also witness this truth: whence so marvellous a change did quickly follow, in those places where he preached, through Angus, Lo­thian, and the western parts; yea, how much the spirits of the people were then raised and affected with the word. But this, being a thing so known from the histories of that time, I only name.

3. Besides those which are more known, and upon publick record, I must here instance a very solemn and extraordinary outpouring of the SPIRIT, which a­bout the year 1625. and thereafter, was in the West of Scotland: whilst the persecution of the Church there was hot from the prelatick party. This, by the prophane rabble of that time, was called the Stewar­ton Sickness: for in that parish first, but after through much of that country, particularly at Irwine, under the ministry of famous Mr. DICKSON it was most re­markable. Where it can be said (which divers Mini­sters and Christians yet alive can witness) that for a considerable time, few Sabbaths did pass without some evidently converted, and some convincing proofs of the power of God accompanying his word: yea, that many were so choaked and taken by the heart, that through TERROUR (the SPIRIT in such a measure convincing them of sin in hearing of the word they have been made to FALL OVER and thus CAR­RIED OUT OF THE CHURCH, who after proved most solid and lively Christians: and, as it was known, some of the most gross, who used to mock at religion being engaged, upon the fame that went abroad [...] such things, to go to some of those parts where the Gospel was then most lively, have been effectual [...], reached before their return, with a visibly chan [...] [Page 394] following the same. And truly, this great spring-tide (which I may so call) of the Gospel, was not of a short time, but for some YEARS continuance; yea thus, like a spreading moor-burn, the power of Godliness did advance from one place to another, which put a marvellous lustre on these parts of the country, the savour whereof brought many from other parts of the land to see the truth of the same.

4. I must also mention that solemn Communion at the Kirk of the Shots, 20 June 1630. at which time there was so convincing an appearance of God, and down-pouring of the SPIRIT, even in an extraordinary way, that did follow the ordinances, especially that sermon on the Monday 21st June, with a strange unusual MOTION on the hearers, who in a great multi­tude were there convened of divers ranks; that it was known (which I can speak on sure ground) near 500 had at that time a discernable change wrought on them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterward: it was the sowing of a seed through Clidesdeal, so as many of most eminent Christians in that country, could date either their conversion, or some remark­able confirmation in their case, from that day. And truly this was the more remarkable, that one after much reluctance, by a special and unexpected provi­dence, was called to preach that sermon on the Mon­day, which then was not usually practised; and that night before, by most of the Christians there, was spent in prayer; so that the Monday's work, as a con­vincing return of Prayer might be discerned.

5. I shall here also instance that solemn and great Work of God, which was in the Church of Ireland some years before the fall of prelacy, about the year 1628. and some years thereafter. Which, as many grave and solid Christians yet alive can witness, who were there present, was a bright and hot sun shine [Page 395] of the Gospel; yea, may with sobriety be said, to have been one of the largest manifestations of the SPIRIT, and of the most solemn times of the [...] pouring thereof, that almost since the days of the Apostles hath been seen: where the power of [...] did sensibly accompany the word with an [...] MOTION upon the hearers. and a very great Tack as to the conversion of souls to Christ; the goings of the Lord then full of Majesty, and the shout of a King was heard in these solemn meetings of his people; that as a judicious old Christian who was there present, did express it, he thought it was like a dazling beam and ray of God, with such an unusual brightness, as even forced by standers to an astonishment; a very effectual door opened, with more than ordinary en­largement, which the Ministers of Christ there did find in preaching the word, whilst the People might be seen hearing the same in a melting frame, with much tenderness of spirit. Surely this was the very power of God, a convincing seal to the truth, and ministry of his Servants, who were then persecuted by the Prelates; yea, a thing which (as it was known) had an awful impression, and was a terror to their adversa­ries. I remember amongst other passages, what a worthy Christian told me, how sometimes in hea­ring the word, such a power and evidence of the Lord's presence was with it, that he hath been forced to rise, and look through the Church, and see what the people were doing; thinking, from what he felt on his own spirit, it was a wonder how any could go away without some change upon them. And then it was sweet and easy for Christians to come 30, 40 miles to these solemn Communions, which they had; and there continue, from the time they came, until they returned, without wearying, or making use of sleep, yea, but little either meat or drink, and as some of them professed, did not feel the need thereof; [Page 396] but went away most fresh and vigorous, their souls so filled with sense of God.

6. That was also a remarkable time, wherein the Lord did pour forth much of the SPIRIT on his people in the year 1638, when this Nation did solemnly enter in Covenant, which many yet alive at this day do know, how the spirits of men were raised, and wrought on by the word, the ordinances lively, and longed after: for then did the Nation own the Lord, and was visibly owned by him; much Zeal and an enlarged heart did appear for the publick cause; personal reformation seriously set about; and then also was there a remarkable gale of providence, that did attend the actings of his people, which did aston­ish their adversaries, and forced many of them to feign subjection. Alass, how in our night come on! For the Lord hath in anger covered the face of the Daughter of Zion with a dark cloud.

7. Must not we also say, since the land was enga­ged by Covenant to the Lord, is these late times, what a solemn outpouring of the SPIRIT hath been seen! A large harvest, with much of the fruit of the Gospel discernable, which we may say with a warrant, hath been proved in the inbringing of thousands to Christ! a part whereof now are in glory, and many yet live, who are a visible seal to this truth: of whom, I am sure, some will not lose the remembrance of those sweet refreshing times, which the land for several years did enjoy, of the Gospel & of many solemn com­munions, where a large blessing with much of the Spirit, and power of God, was felt accompanying the ordinances. If it were expedient to set down circum­stances, I could here point at many such remarkable times and places, which would clearly demonstrate this.

Now, besides these more publick and obvious proofs, it is known, what a great testimony the expe­rience [Page 397] of the godly in these late times could [...] to this truth, what they have in a large measure felt of the power and refreshing effusions of the SPIRIT within their soul; yea, how oft after sorest down-casting have been wonderfully raised above them­selves, and filled with the consolation of God, and joy unspeakable: this would indeed make a great volume, to reckon over all these instances, even these whose experience in these last ages could in a large measure witness this truth. Only, to shut this up, I shall name these two.—

1. Mr. Welsh, and Mr. Forbes, two great witnesses of Christ in this land, when they were prisoners, give this account of their case in a letter to Mr. James Mel­vin, and his Uncle, then at London, which under the said Mr. Melvin's hand is set down in a manuscript of his; their words are these,—Dear Brethren, we dare say by experience, and our God is witness we lie not, that unspeakable is the joy, that is in a free and full testimony of Christ's royal authority, unspeakable is the joy of suffer­ing for his Kingdom. (For on that truth was their suffering stated) We had never such joy and peace in preaching of it, as we have found in suffering for the same: we spake before in knowledge, we now speak by experience, that the Kingdom of God consists in peace and joy. And in an o­ther letter, thus they say, Our joy hath greatly abounded, since the last day (Which was after passing sentence of death on them by assize at Linlithgow) so that we can­not enough wonder at the riches of his free grace, that should have vouchsafed such a gift upon us, to suffer for his Kingdom, in which there is joy unspeakable and glorious; and we are rather in fear, that they (to with the suffer­ings) be not continued, and so we be robbed of further consolation, than that they should increase. Surely there is great consolation in suffering for Christ: we do not ex­press unto you the joy, which our God had caused to abound in us.

[Page 398] 2. I shall also mention that great Servant of Christ Mr. Rutherford, whose Letters now published can witness what solemn days of the SPIRIT, and sensible outpourings thereof, he oft had in his experience; though books can tell but little what he really felt, and enjoyed. I shall only set down some of his last and dying expressions, which I had from those who were then present, and caused the same to be writ down from his mouth, that may shew how lovely he also was in his death, and how well that did correspond with his former life. Some of his words are these; I shall shine, I shall see him as he is, and all the fair company with him, and shall have my large share; it is no easy thing to be a Christian, but as for me I have got the victory, and Christ is holding forth his arms to embrace me. I have had my fears, and faintings, as an other sinful man, to be carried through creditably, but as sure as ever he spake to me in his word, his spirit witnessed to my heart, saying, Fear not, he had accepted my suffering, and the out gate should not be matter of prayer, but of praise. He said also, Thy word was found, and I did eat it, and it was to me the joy, and rejoycing of my heart. And a little before his death after some fainting, he saith, Now I feel, I be­lieve, I enjoy, I rejoyce! and turning to Mr. Blair then present, he said, I feed on manna, I have Angels food; my eyes shall see my Redeemer, I know that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth, and I shall be caught up in the clouds to meet him in the air. And afterwards hath these words, I sleep in Christ, and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with his likeness. O for arms to embrace him! and to one speaking about his painfulness in the ministry; he cryeth out, I disclaim all; the port I would be in at, is redemption and forgiveness of sins through his blood. And thus full of the SPIRIT, yea, as it were, overcome with sensible enjoyment, he breathes out his soul. His last words being, Glory, Glory, dwelleth in Emmanuel's land!

[Page 399] SIXTH Witness is that convincing appearance of an extraordinary and Apostolick spirit on some of these instruments, whom the Lord raised up in these last times, and those great endowments wherewith they were sent forth for the service of the Church, and the overthrow of the king­dom of Antichrist: a truth which, we must say, if not in such measure, yet hath been no less evident, than in those primitive times, when the Christian Church was planted.

It is clear, that extraordinary gifts & endowments have been given, forth to the Church under the New Testament, for with the first dawning of the Gospel there were both Apostles, & Prophets raised up. It can­not be also denied, that since the Cannon of the Scrip­ture was closed, yea, in these late ages, there have been very extraordinary men given to the Church, who had special revelations from the Lord, of his mind a­bout things to come; which though we should not now look for, yet wherein did the Lord remarka­bly condescend, when some great piece of service, and necessity of the Church did more call for it. And truly these were led in no other path than that of the Word; though they had a more special discovery and immediate inbreathing of God's mind, as to the application thereof in particular cases: neither did they press upon men's conscience, to credit the same, but were most cautious, witnessing much humble so­briety on that account.

It is known, what extraordinary instruments, how wonderfully called and qualified, Luther, Zuing­lius, Calvin, Wishart, and Knox were, whom God sent in these latter days to grapple with Antichrist, and sound a retreat to his Church from Babylon; likewise Melanthon, Beza, Bucer, and Martyr, with divers in England, such as Latimer, Rid­ley, Bradford, &c. who indeed were burning and shining lights in their time, mighty in the Scrip­ture, [Page 400] fervent in spirit, were cloathed with the power and authority of God, before which the World could not stand. But besides these famous wit­nesses, of whose life we have something this day on publick record, I must here crave liberty to set down a few more, more late instances of our own Church in Scotland, to confirm this truth; such as are but little known to the World, nor any thing of their lives published, which I think a great loss to after-generations; who, we may say (and this with a warrant and in sobriety) were men truly extra­ordinary, eminently serviceable in the work of the Lord, yea, of a Prophetick and Apostolick Spirit, and such who through grace did not even come short of the first three; I mean not only those before mentioned, but also some of those great lights, who were in the first age of the Church after the ascension of Christ.

I. I shall instance Mr. John Welsh, whom the Lord called forth to the ministery at Kirckcubright in Gal­loway, and afterwards was transported to the Church of Air, whom Mr. Rutherford in one of his books called that heavenly Prophetical and Apostolick Man of God, and sheweth that from the witnesses of his life, he had this account, that of every 24 hours he gave usually eight to prayer, if other necessary and urgent duties did not hinder; yea, spent many days and nights which he set apart, in fasting and prayer for the con­dition of the Church, and the sufferings of the refor­med Churches abroad. I can also add this, from very sure information (and truly about any of these parti­culars, I seriously study to have satisfying grounds of the certainty thereof) that it was his usage even in the coldest winter-nights, to rise for prayer; and of­times his wife, who was an excellent woman, hath risen to seek after him, where he hath been found lying on the ground weeping and wrestling with [Page 401] the Lord; yea, sometimes he would have been much of the night alone in the Church of Aire on that account. One time especially his wise finding him overcharged with grief, he told her, he had that to press him, which she had not, the souls of 3000 to answer for, whilest he know not how it was with many of them. And an other time whilest she found him alone, his spirit almost overcharged with anguish and grief, upon her serious enquiry, said, that the times which were to come on Scotland, were heavy and sad, though she should not see them, and this for the contempt of the Gospel.

Whilest he was prisoner in the Blackness, in a let­ter to a Christian lady, he giveth this account, What large joy he had, to suffer for such a truth, that Jesus Christ was a King, and had a visible Kingdom in the World, even his Church, which was as free to keep its Courts, and exercise discipline by vertue of an intrinsick power from Christ, as any Kingdom on the earth, for which he was ready to lay down his life, yea, would re­joyce to be offered up a sacrifice on so glorious a truth. In the close of that letter, he doth also forewarn, that judgment was coming to Scotland, which should be blood, first by an intestine sword, and then by the sword of a stranger, and that a great sacrifice should be there, both of great men, and mean. The fulfilling whereof hath since been very sensible, and is known by many alive, who had that letter long before the late troubles begun. Whilst he was thus prisoner, several remarka­ble passages I have had confirmed by divers worthy of credit, some of whom shewed me they had them from those who were most familiar with the persons themselves; they are indeed strange, but we must also consider he was an extraordinary man.

The first was this, that one night whilest he did expound the Scripture after his supper, in the prison (as his custom was) whilest he with much [Page 402] power and authority was pressing home the truth, one of the company who had some charge in the Castle, fell a jearing; which Mr. Welsh observing, and looking earnestly to him, did presently close the Bible, and cease, and a little after having a drink in his hand, be saith to a friend at the table before all that were present, There is one so profane and gross, as to contemn and mock at the word of the Lord, but ere a little God shall smite him with a remark­able stroke of his judgment. Which accordingly fell out, to the astonishment of the company; for that man did presently drop down to the ground, and died. A lady that was then Popish, being present by reason of a friend of her's that was prisoner in the cas­tle, was so moved therewith that it proved an help to her after-conversion.

The other passage is this, one John Steward, an eminent Christian, who lived at Aire, having come to visit Mr. Welsh in prison, found him in a more than ordinary way troubled and sad, and upon his en­quiry thereabout, he saith," John, ye should not be here, go home to Aire, for the plague of God is broken out in that place, and cause Hugh Kennedy pro­vest of that town (who was also a very singular Chris­tian) to convene the people to the streets, and pray together; and the Lord shall hear Hugh Kennedy, and remove that stroke. This at the first did something astonish the said John, and put him to question its truth, having so lately come out of that place: but at his return found it so, and accordingly in every thing it fell out as the man of God had shewed.

After his banishment, to which the King did change the sentence of death past upon him at Linlith­go, he in a very short time acquired the French tongue, with such a facility therein, as was thought [...]range by those who knew it. Trochrig in his com­mentary on the Ephesians, sets down this passage [Page 403] how being called to preach at Salmur, a famous Uni­versity, yea, one of the most learned auditories in France, he did with such boldness and authority preach, as though he had been before the meanest congregation: whereat Trochrig being astonished, could not but on his acquaintance with him question him thereabout, whence he had such confidence, and was so little moved, whilst he preached before stran­gers, [...] and judicious an auditory, and in a strange tongue? To whom in a humble way, as one more dejected, than lifted up, he gave that answer, When he considered his being before the LORD, & that he was delivering his message, he could not regard, either great or small, but all flesh did then go out of his mind.

Whilst he was Minister at St. Jane de Angeli, a Protestant town in France, where his Ministry was much blessed with success, the civil wars did break out, where that city was twice besieged on the Prote­stant interest; during which time these passages fell out most remarkable: one was, the town being sore straited, and ready to be taken, the enemies having raised a battery, and by a close approach had made a great breach in the wall, Mr. Welsh hearing thereof (who had much encouraged the people, that their adversaries should nor then prevail) went himself with the Canonier up the walls, and desired he would charge such a piece of cannon, and shoot, for God should direct that shoe and cause to prosper: which accordingly did, to astonishment of lookers-on, dis­mount that battery, and the Lord so ordered things after, that the King did parley on favourable terms with the city, and did only himself with his court come in without doing any violence. Another marvellous passage was this; the following Sabbath some of the godly in that place, fearing Mr. Welsh his hazard, did seriously deal with him, that he [Page 404] would forbear to go forth, and preach, the Court being there; from which he by no intreaty would be hindred, but shewed them he would adventure to preach the word to his People, and trust the Lord with what concerned himself, being more grieved at their fear and despondence: and that day had a very great auditory, both of friends, and others who came upon the fame of such a man; but in time of sermon, a great man of the Court with some of the King's own guard was sent to bring him forth­with before the King, and whilst he was entring the Church, which had some difficulty by reason of the multitude, Mr. Welsh did turn himself toward that entry, and desired the people to give way to one of the great Piers of France, that was coming in; but after whilst he was coming near the pulpit, to execute his commission, by putting force on the Servant of Christ, for his desisting, he did with great authority speak to him before all the people, and in the name of his Master Jesus Christ charged him that he would not disturb the Worship of God; wherewith that man was so affrighted, that he fell a shaking, yea was forced to crutch down, and make no further trouble.—A third passage no less remarkable was upon the close of Sermon, whilst Mr. Welsh with much submission went to the King, who was then greatly incensed, and with a threat­ning countenance asked, What he was, and how he durst preach heresy so near his person, and with such contumacy carry himself? To which, with due reverence bowing himself, he did answer. I am, Sir, the Servant and Minister of Jesus Christ, whose truth I preached this day, which if your Majesty rightly knew, ye would have judged it your duty to have come your self, and heard: and for my doctrine I did this day preach these 3 truths to your People. (1.) That man is sullen, and by nature in a lost condition, [Page 405] yea, by his own power and abilities is not able to help himself from that estate. (2.) That there is no sal­vation or deliverance from wrath by our own merits, by Jesus Christ and his merit alone. (3.) I did also preach this day the just liberties of the Kingdom of France, that your Majesty oweth obedience to Christ only, who is Head of the Church; and that the Pope, as he is an enemy to Christ, and his truth, so also to the Kings of the earth, whom he keepeth under slavery to his usurped power. Whereat the King for a time keeping silence, with great astonishment, turned to some about him, and said, Surely this is a man of God! Yea, after did commune with him, and with great respect dismissed him. The year following, whilst the differences betwixt the King and Protestant party did grow, that city was again besieged, taken, and in part sacked as Mr. Welsh did publickly foretell: at which time, it is known, how the King past a solemn order, that none should in the least wrong Mr. Welsh, or any thing that belonged to him, under high­est pains, and did after give a safe conduct to him, for transporting himself to England, where he died; King James refusing his return to his own country, though earnestly petitioned by his wife, for her hus­band's health.

During his sickness, he was so filled and overcome with the sensible enjoyment of God, that he was sometime overheard in prayer, to have these words, Lord, hold thy hand, it is enough! thy servant is a clay vessel, and can hold no more!

II. I shall also here instance Mr. Robert Bruce, who in a very extraordinary way was called to the Ministry, having for a long time followed the study of the Law, both in this country and in France, yea, had some ground to expect a place amongst the Lord's of the [...] his father being then a considerable Barron, [Page 406] who had many friends: but a more pressing and ir­resistible call from God did otherwise determine.

Whilst he was in the Ministry at Edinburgh, he shined as a great light through the whole land: the power and efficacy of the SPIRIT most sensibly accom­panying the word he preached, he was a terrour to evil doers: and the authority of God did so appear up­on him and his carriage, with such a Majesty in his countenance, as forced fear and respect from the greatest in the land, even those who were most avow­ed haters of Godliness; yea, it was known, what an awful impression King James had of him, and did once give him that testimony before many, that he judged Mr. Bruce was worthy of the half of his King­dom.

He was a man that had much inward exercise about his own personal case; had been oft assaulted about that great foundation of truth, if there was a God; which cost him many days and nights wrestling, and when he hath come up to the pulpit, after being sometimes silent, which was his usual way, he would say, I think it is a great matter to believe there is a God; telling the People, it was an other thing to be­lieve that, than they judged. But it was also known, by his friends with whom he was familiar, what ex­traordinary confirmations he had from the Lord there­in, what near familiarity he did attain in his secret converse with God: yea, truly some things, I have had from persons worthy of credit thereabout, would seem so strange and marvellous, that I forbear to set them down.

The great success of his Ministry at Edinburgh, Inverness, and other places whither providence cal­led him, is abundantly known. Whilst he was con­fined at Inverness, that poor dark country was mar­vellously enlightned, many brought in to Christ by his Ministry, and a seed sown in these places, which [Page 407] even to this day is not wholly worn out. I shall here set down one passage of famous Mr. Henderson, who at his first entry to the Ministry at Leuchars, was very prelatick, and by the Bishop of St. Andrews brought in against the parish's consent, so that on the day of his admission, the Church doors being shut by the People, they were forced to break in by a window to get him entrance. But a little after this, upon the report of a Communion, where Mr. Bruce was to help, he would needs from a longing he had to hear and see such a man, go secretly there; and placed himself in a dark part of the Church, where he might not be known: when Mr. Bruce was come to the pulpit, he did for a considerable time keep silence, as his maner was, which did some way astonish Mr. Henderson, but much more when he heard the first words wherewith he begun, which were these, He that cometh not in by the door, but climbeth up ano­ther way, the same is a thief and a robber. Which did by the Lord's blessing at the very present take him by the heart, and had so great an impression on him, that it was the first means of his conversion.

He was one that had the spirit of discerning in a great measure, did prophetically speak of many things which afterwards came to pass; yea, which I had attested by sober and grave Christians, who were familiar with him, that divers persons distracted, and of those who were passed all hope of recovery in the falling sickness, were brought to Mr. Bruce, and after prayer by him in their behalf were fully recovered. This indeed may seem strange, but it is also true; Mr. Bruce was a great wrestler, who had more than ordinary familiarity with his Master.

A little before his death, when he was at Edin­burgh, and through weakness kept his chamber, there was a meeting of divers godly Ministers at that time there, on some special ground of the Church's con­cernment, [Page 408] who hearing he was in the town came to­gether, and gave him an account of the actings of those times, the Prelates then designing the service book: after which Mr. Bruce prayed, and did therein tell over again to the Lord the very substance of their discourse, which was a sad representation of the case of the Church, at which time there was such an extraordinary MOTION on all present, so sensible a downpouring of the SPIRIT, that they could hardly contain themselves; yea, which was most strange, even some unusual motion on these who were in other parts of the house, not knowing the cause at that very instant. One Mr. Weemes of Lothaker being then occasionally present, when he went away, said, O how strange a man is this! for he knocked down the Spirit of God on us all. This he said because Mr. Bruce did divers times knock with his fingers on the table. I had this from a worthy Christian Gentleman, in whose mother's house this was.

He was deeply affected with the naughtiness and prophanity of many Ministers then in the Church, and the unsuitable carriage of others to so great a calling; and did express much his fear, that the ministry of Scotland would prove the greatest persecutors of the Gospel that it had. If there were a full collection of those remarkable passages, which have been known to others in his life, it would further witness what an extraordinary man that was. I shall only shut this up with learned Didoclavius's testimony, in his Pre­face to his Altare Damascenum: Robertus Brusius, Vir­genere & virtue nobilis, majestate vultus venerabilis, qui plura animarum millia Christo lucrifecit; cujus anima, st ullius mortalium (absit verbo invidia) sedet in coel [...]sti­ [...]us: anima mea, cum anima tua, Brust, si ex a [...]ena [...]ide esset pendendum.

[Page 409] III. Mr. Davidson, Minister of the Gospel at Salt-Prestoun, may be truly here instanced as one of an extraordinary, prophetick Spirit, who was likewise eminently zealous and faithful for his Master in a time of the Church's defection; as Didoclavius in that forementioned preface terms him, Cato et constans Cato sui temporis. He did then foresee Prelacies breaking in upon the Church, when King James were pressing the setting up of Superin­tendents under a very specious pretext, and was for that end himself present at the Assembly in Dundee, hav­ing engaged many, alass too many! to consent thereto, but Mr. Davidson with great boldness rose up, and warned the assembly of the hazard, and told them he saw the knave Bishop, with his mitre, com­ing in under that mask, yea, did solemnly in his own name, and name of the Church of Scotland, en­ter a protestation against that step of defection, and their yielding up in so far the liberties of the Church, to please men.

Whilst he was Minister at Salt-Prestoun, the build­ing of a Church was by him much endeavoured, which he did advance much out of his own private interest; my Lord Newbatle who then had a great interest in the Parish engaging to help it forward: from which he after resiled, and thereby frustrated the work. Whereupon Mr. Davidson told him, these walls that were then begun to be builded, should stand as a wit­ness against him, and that ere long God should root out him and his estate out of that Parish, and he should not have a piece of land in the same! which shortly after had a visible accomplishment. It was very clear from many passages of his life, that the secret of the Lord was in an extraordinary way with him. Some of those which have been transmitted from them who particularly knew the same are indeed most wor­thy of a remark.

[Page 410] At a certain assembly of the Church, Mr. John Spots­wood & Mr. James Law, who were then entered in­to the ministry, were processed for some gross acts of prophanity: where Mr. Davidson finding the assembly too easy to pass the same, in regard of their parts and gifts, only with a rebuke, he did with much vehemency press their deposition; and after being crossed therein, said, You will needs spare these two men, whereat I am grieved, but the time is coming when they shall trample upon your necks and upon the Church of Scotland. And it is well known what an accomplishment this prediction had.

Being with Mr. Bruce one time at dinner, who was then in great favour with the King, he had these words in giving thanks after meat. Lord, thy servant here is now a great favourite of the Court, and in much re­spect: but he shall be within a little as much persecuted as he is now in favour, and go down the streets, when many who have him this day in esteem will not give him a salu­tation. Which was very manifest afterwards. And at another time, whilst Mr. Robert Bruce and he were dining together in the house of one of the Magistrates of the town, who was then a cordial friend to godly Ministers, he did also in his plain and free way break forth with these words, whilst he was giving thanks, Lord, this good man hath respect for thy sake to thy servants, but he little knoweth that in a short time he must carry us both, who are here to prison. Which words did much trouble that honest man, tho' afterwards it came most exactly to pass.

There is one more remarkable passage, which I should fear to set down, it is so strange, but that I had the same confirmed by some worthy of credit, who shewed me, that from those that were present, and familiar with Mr. Davidson, they had it related. A Gentleman nearly related to a great family of that Pa­rish [Page 411] but a most violent hater of piety, did upon that account beat a poor honest man who lived there, ha­ving not the least shadow of a provocation, and a­mongst other sore strokes gave one upon the back with these words, Take this for Mr. Davidson's sake. Af­ter which the honest man was for a time forced to keep his bed, and complained most of that stroke, which he gave him on the back, as that which he felt more than all the rest; but the Sabbath follow­ing, Mr. Davidson speaking in the close of his Ser­mon about the oppression of the godly, and enmity which wicked men had to such, did very particularly touch that late instance, saying, It was a sad time, a prophane man would thus openly adventure to vent his rage against those who were seekers of God in the place, whilst be could have no cause but the very appearance of his image; and with great authority said, He who hath done this, were he the Laird, or the Laird's brother, ere a few days pass, God shall give him a stroke, that all the Monarchs of the earth dare not challenge. Which was then pub­lickly known how in the close of that week, standing before his door, he was struck dead with a thunder-bolt, and all his bones crusht.

A little before the death of this great Servant of Christ, having an occasional recounter with Mr. John Ker, a young Gentleman who was lately come from France, and had then no thoughts of the ministry, but was in a very courtly dress, Mr. Davidson did in a solemn way charge him to cast off his scarlet cloak, and lay aside his guilded rapper, and take him to his [...]ook, For you are the man, says he, who is to succeed [...] in the ministry at this place. Which, so very [...] thing to that Gentleman for the present, [...] fell out, he did immediately succeed him there, [...]here he was for many years an holy and faithful Mi­nister of the Gospel. This last passage many yet alive, who had the same from the said Mr. John Ker can witness.

[Page 412] IV. Mr. Patrick Simpson, who was once Minister of Cramond, and after transported to Stirling, may be here also instanced, as a very extraordinary man in the Church. In his youth he attained to great know­ledge in the languages, did much study Greek and Latin Authors; and gave this reason to such who wondred he should spend so much time in reading those who were but pagans, That he purposed to de­dicate all these jewels which he borrowed from the E­gyptians, to the building of the house of the Lord. It is known, with what zeal he did oppose himself to the corruptions of that time. In the year 1584, whilst there was an express charge from the King, for acknowledging Mr. Patrick Adamson Archbishop of St. Andrews, or else lose their maintenance, he did with great vehemency appear against the same, tho' that man was his uncle upon the mother's side; and some who seemed willing to subscribe thereto with such a condition, according to the Word of God, he did gravely rebuke, shewing them it could be no sal­vo to their conscience, since it was repugnantia in ad­jecto, to subscribe to any humane institution accord­ing to the word, when the word did expresly con­demn the same. It was also known, he refused the offer of a Bishoprick, and afterwards of a yearly pen­sion from the King, which he looked on as a design only to bribe his conscience, which was more dear to him than all the World. And when that assembly at Aberdeen was condemned by the State, he did o­penly own and avow the same, and in a very solemn manner denounced the wrath and judgment of God against these accusers and convicters of those excellent men, at Linlithgow, who stood for the [...] of that assembly. That notable paper and protestation, given in to the Parliament 1606 (where Prelacy was further established) was by him penned, and out of his own hand given to [Page 413] the Earl of Dumbar, subscribed by many Mi­nisters of the Church, who were then there on that account.

His life was most exemplary for piety, and faith­fulness in serving his Master; which did preach no less to that part of the country wherein he lived, than his doctrine. One very remarkable passage of his life I do here adventure to set down, having very satisfying grounds as to the certainty of it, from those who knew the same, and had a particular relation of all its circumstances from a grave Christian, who had it out of his own mouth, and likewise hath it writ­ten under old Mr. Row of Carnock's hand, who was his familiar intimate friend; it is this. His Wife, Mar­tha Barron, a gracious woman, the wife of his youth, with whom he had lived in great love, fell sick, which proved her last sickness; when she was first sore assaulted by the Devil, who pressed in upon her that she should be given over to his hand; and after, it did resolve in a visible distraction, which for a time grew upon her, so that most unlike to her former way, she would have broke forth with dreadful and horrid expressions; it did most appear on a Sab­bath-morning, whilst Mr. Simpson was going to preach, and whilst for a time he was forced with a heavy countenance to stand silent, he at last kneeled down, and prayed, which she did no ways regard, but a little after he turning to the company that were present, told them, he was sure that those who now were witnesses of that sad hour, should yet see a gracious work of God on this his Servant, and that the Devil's malice against that poor woman, should have a shameful foil. Her distraction did still con­tinue until the Tuesday, which was the [...] of August, which morning at the very dawning of [...] to his garden, and shut the door behind him, where for many hours he was alone, but a godly woman [Page 414] who that night was with his wife, Helen Garner, wife to one of the Bailyes of Stirling, being apprehensive of his hazard, through his grief and fasting, could have no rest till she knew his case, and by some help climbed up, and got into the garden, but on a near approach to that place, where Mr. Simpson then was, she was terrified with an extraordinary noise, which through fear made her fall to the ground: it seemed, as she related after to others, it was like the noise of a great rushing of multitudes together, and therewith such a melodious sound, as did make her know, it was something more than humane, [...] turned to prayer, entreating the Lord would pardon her rashness, which affection to his Servant, who had been the instrument, of her good, had carried her to. And after, going for­ward, finds him lying upon the ground; it was with much intreaty, that he did then reveal himself in that particular, until she promised secrecy, not to speak it to others so long as he lived but had his allowance if she should survive him: which promise she kept, but after his death, did relate it to those from whom I have had this; he said, O what am I, being dust and ashes, that the holy Ministring spirits should be sent by the Lord to deliver a message to me! and shewed he had a vision of Angels, who did with an au­dible voice give him an answer from the Lord, of his wife's condition, and coming over to his house, he said to all who were present, Be of good comfort, for ere ten hours of this day, I am sure that brand shall be plucked out of the fire. After which he went to prayer at his wife's bedside, where for a time she lay quiet, but whilst he mentioned Jacob's wrestling in prayer, she sits straight up in the bed, casting aside the curtain, and sayeth, Thou art this day Jacob, who hast wrestled, & also prevailed: & now God hath made good his words, which he spake this morning to you; for I am plucked out of the hands of Satan, & he shall have us [Page 415] power over me. Which interruption made him for a space silent, but after with great melting of heart proceeded in prayer, and magnified the riches of God's love towards him; and after prayer there was sweet and Christian embracements betwixt them: yea, from that hour she did speak most Christianly and comfortably, even to her death, which was on the Friday following, August 13. 1601. whose last words in the moment of her departure were with a loud voice, Come, Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

After this, Mr Simpson lived several years, fervent and faithful in the work of the Lord, & one who in private walk witnessed such mortification, that all who knew him, might clearly see, his converse was little in the World. In March 1618. he said, Now shall this month put an end to all these things! And ac­cordingly, towards the close of it, was removed by death; at which time he expressed much joy, blessing the Lord for his kindness, that he had not been per­verted by the sinful courses of these times; & might say, as the Lord [...] Elijah in the wilderness, so in some respect he had dealt with him all his life time. And having these words upon some of his books writ­ten, Remember, O my soul, and never forget the 9 of Au­gust, what consolation the Lord gave thee, and how he performed what he spoke, according to Zach. 3. 2. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? upon which some of his friends speaking to him about the fame, his an­swer was, Absit mihi gloriari in aliquo, nifi in Domino D [...]o m [...]o!

Now, besides these great men, many others who at that time did shine as lights in the Church, may be here also mentioned; who were indeed stars of the first magnitude, eminently zealous and faithful, and their Ministry followed with much of the power and authority of God. Such as Mr. Andrew Mel­vin, of whom it might be said, he had the face [Page 416] of a lion in his master's cause, and feared not to speak before Princes and great men, when the truth called for it. Likewise his neveu, Mr. James Melvin that holy grave, and prudent Servant of Christ, Mr. Andrew Dunkan, Mr. John Scrimger, Mr. Charles Fe­reme, Mr. James Balfure, &c. One passage I shall here set down, worthy of a remark, of Mr. Andrew Melvin, who being prisoner in the Tower, a Gentleman of his ac­quaintance, got access to visit him, but found him in a sad deep muse, about the defection of many Ministers in Scotland, and did deplore the state of the Church there, having lately got an account of their way at that assembly at Glasgow 1610. where the Earl of Dumbar had been active to corrupt divers with money: this Gentleman, desiring to know what word he had for his own country, got no an­swer; but upon a second enquiry, he said, I have no word to send, but am heavily grieved, that the glori­ous governement of the Church of Scotland should be so de­faced, and a Popish tyrannical government set up, and thou Manderston (for out of that house Dumbar was come, and he thus stiled him) Hast thou no other thing to do, but carry down to Scotland such commissions, whereby the poor Church there is wracked: the Lord shall be aven­ged upon thee, and thou shalt never again go down for all thy grandeur! Which words took such impression on that Gentleman, that when he went forth, he desired some friends, who then waited to get a business at court expedited by Dumbar's mediation, that they would in time put their affairs to a close, for he was perswaded, the words of that servant of Christ should not fall to the ground. And truly this did very quickly take place, that Earl being suddenly struck by death, within a few months after, and thus thrown down from the top of his grandeur, whilst he was busie, perfecting that great house of his at Berwick, and had appointed a sumptuous [Page 417] feast for his daughter's marriage, even then did his thoughts perish.

I shall here but add one instance more of one, whom we before-named, though not a Minister, yet a great instrument for promoting the work of the Go­spel in the place where he lived; and one we may say, of an extraordinary spirit, Hugh Kennedy, provost of Air: of whom I would mention these two passages, from sure knowledge. One was this whilst the Merchant-Ship [...] of that town were at sea, amongst whom his son John, who was also a choice Christian, was at that time, he did one night rise before the breaking of day, and came to the house of his familiar friend John Steward, desiring he would rise and go along with him to some room. Whereat the said John being excee­dingly astonished, he saith to him; It is no time to linger, let us go pray, for my son with the rest of our friends now at sea are at this hour on the very nick of pe­rishing. And after they had spent some time in prayer, he arose chearfully and said, Now they are safe! Within a little after, John Steward who had writ this down, with the day and hour, at the return of the Ships did most particularly enquire, and found how it did answer in all the circumstances, and in that very hour of that night they were to appearance past hope of safety upon a very dangerous place, and by an extra­ordinary unxpected providence then delivered.

The other is this, one day being for many hours alone in prayer, whilst some of his Christian friends did wait long for him, at last with an unusual chear­fulness he came forth, and upon their enquiry a­bout his sta [...], he told them. It was no wonder, for he had that day got mercy to him, and all his And tru­ly it was very evident, that not one of his Children, but there was large ground of charity, that they were truly godly.

[Page 418] Whilst he was dying, Mr. Ferguson a godly Minis­ter saith to him, You have cause, Sir, to be assured that the Angels of God are now waiting at the stoups of this bed to convoy your soul into Abra­ham's bosom. To whom his answer was; I am sure thereof, and if the walls of this house could speak, they could tell how many sweet days I have had in se­cret fellowship with God, and how familiar he hath been with my soul.—I shall only add Mr. Welsh's testimony, in a letter from France to this great man: his words were these, Happy is that city, yea, happy is that Nation, that hath a Hugh Kennedy in it! I have my self certainly found the answers of his prayers from the Lord in my behalf.

(¶) I. Reader, besides these more remarkable passages which in the perusal of this treatise thou wilt find dropped apart, concerning the way of God with some of his more eminently faithful Servants, I have in this place cast together some few instances, which in the former impression were not hinted.

In the first place, thou mayst take notice of these two concerning that walker with God, great Master Bruce, of whom some things have been spoken else­where: & first, beside that blessed frame of spirit which appeared in the whole of his converse, he endea­voured more especially whensoever he was to appear in publick as an Ambassador of Jesus Christ, to have his Spirit deeply impressed with the Majesty of that God, of whom he was to speak, and of the high importance it was to the souls of men, to have the myste­ries of salvation unfolded unto them, not with entic­ing words of man's wisdom but in demonstration of the spirit and power; without which this preached Gospel, though in it self the world of life, will never prove the power of God to salvation. And therefore though he was known to take much pains in search­ing [Page 419] the Scripture, that he might know the mind of the Spirit of God by comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and in preparing apposite matter for the edification of his hearers, which he durst not neglect, and wherein he durst not be superficial, as knowing he was to speak of God, and afraid of the curse threat­ned for doing of his work negligently; yet this was the least part of his preparation-work, the main of his business lay in having his soul wrought up to some sutableness of frame for preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ, and making manifest the mystery of the Gospel as he ought, that so his Master by his service might see of the travel of his soul and be satis­fied. And knowing, that the success of preaching de­pended wholly upon the presence of God accompa­nying the dispensing of Ordinances, his manner was to be much in prayer and supplication in private be­fore his publick appearances, pouring forth his heart before God, and wrestling with him, not so much for assistance to the messenger, as to the message One instance whereof take a