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A Plain-dealing, and Plain-meaning SERMON, Preach't in the Pariſh Church of St. Nicholas, Briſtol, April 6. 1660. Being the day appointed by the Parliament for publique Faſting and Humiliation for the ſins of the NATION, &c. Together with a prefatory Epiſtle, and ſubſequent Vindication both of the Sermon, and Author. Wherein (beſides an Apology for home and plain-preaching) you have ſomething offered to allay the heat of their ſtomacks, and to temper the tongues of thoſe, who (being ignorant in Scripture) reproach and revile Presbytery and PRESBYTERS. With ſome hints at SATANS ſubtlety, and the miſ­chief of thoſe people, who brand Zeal for God and Truth (in free, home, and faithfull preaching) with the reproachful names of Anger, paſſion, and Railing.

Ezek 33.30.

Alſo thou ſon of Man, the children of thy people ſtill are talking againſt thee by the walls, and in the doors of their houſes, &c.

Pſal. 35 11.

Falſe witneſſes did riſe up: They laid to my charge things that I knew not.

Matth. 5.11.

Bleſſed are ye when men ſhall revile you, and perſecute you, and ſhall ſy all manner of evill againſt you falſely for my names ſake. Rejoyce and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven; for ſo perſecuted they the Prophets which were before you.

LONDON, Printed by S. Griffin, and are to be ſold by Thomas Wall by the Tolezey in Cornſtreet in Briſtol, 1660.

To the ſtrenuous Aſſertor of his Countreys Rights, Will: Pryn Eſquire, a choſen Mem­ber of the High Court of Parliament.


I Am now upon an Appeal to the World, but not to all the world; for all are not competent Judges. But in my judgment I take you for the fitteſt man in the world to de­termine, whether I have ſpoken againſt the King, or his coming in, in this enſuing Sermon. You whom the late King honoured with the title of the Cato, (the impartial Cato) of this age: You whom nei­ther fear nor flattery, nor perſecution can by as from the truth: You who have militated more, and con­quer'd more in the Kings behalf by your pen, then many Regiments of ſouldiers by their pikes & muſ­quets; To you I appeal in this matter: were it mat­ter of Doctrine, I durſt make you my Ʋmpire, for I know your ability that way; Witneſs that ex­cellent Book of yours of the Perpetuity of a regene­rate mans eſtate. But my appeal to you now is upon matter of fact & diſcretion, whether my diſcourſe were ſcandalous or unſeaſonable. Sir, you are ac­quainted with the Topicks and proper ſeats of ar­gument in all kinds, deliberative, demonſtrative, per­ſwaſive. You can diſcern whether I have ſinn'd a­gainſt the law of the Preacher. Had you been in the Country, this Sermon had waited upon you for your Deleatur, or Imprimatur, before it had gone unto the Preſs: But mine and the Book-ſellers ap­prehenſions that your greater & manifold occaſi­ons (now that you are in London) would not offer us ſuch a time of leiſure wth you, as to peruſe it be­fore-hand, hath with held me from that attempt. Yet I could not with-draw from my reſolutions to crave your juſt deciſion. If you find me guilty, ſtrike out your name, and diſown the dedication, which would be a ſorer blow to me, then all the oppo­ſings of my Calumniators: But if you find me inno­cent, then let my Sermon (with its Appendices) goe forth with your auſpicious tutelage. I have one thing to beg of you, and that is, That the good old Cauſe may not be forgotten. And I ſhall beg of God (whoſe cauſe it is) a bleſſing upon you, and upon the great Councel, whereof you are a choſen Mem­ber, that the Lord would make you repairers of our breaches, and reſtorers of our paths to dwell in. Theſe are the deſires and prayers of him who is

Yours moſt ready to ſerve you in all Chriſtian Offices R. A: FARMER.

A Prefatory Epiſtle to the Reader.

ITS not the leaſt part of our work who are Miniſters of the Word to ſuit our Texts and Subjects: And in both (in a good ſenſe) to obſerve that direction in Rom. 12.11. (as the Vulgar Latine reads it) to ſerve the time; That is, to ſuit our diſcourſes to the ſeaſon, to the occaſions, times, and perſons wherein we live, and to whom we are to preach. Solomon the wiſeſt Preacher that ever was (Jeſus Chriſt, the wiſdome of God himſelfe excepted) tells us, that words ſpo­ken in ſeaſon (i. e. according to the time, occaſion and condi­tion of the perſons ſpoken to) are like apples of gold in pi­ctures of ſilver, very good, very pleaſant. Prov. 25.11.And he alſo tells us that Preachers who are wiſe, and would teach their people true and ſaving knowledge, they muſt be heedful and carefull not to utter (as many pretended Enthuſiaſts do) quicquid in buccam venerit, but to ſeek out, compoſe, and to ſet in or­der what they are to treat on:Eccleſ. 12.9,10. And to find out acceptable, delightful, taking, winning words and matter. In the Hebrew it is〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉verba voluntatis, i. e. ſuch words and mat­ter as might captivate and take the wills and affections of their Auditors: And (as the Apoſtle phraſes it)2 Cor. 10.5. bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Chriſt. And this I conceive (in great part) was that〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that craft; ſubtlety, and cunning that the Apoſtle (in preaching) uſed to catch the Corinthians. 2 Cor. 12.16.Being crafty, I caught you with guile. He carried himſelfe ſo both in matter and man­ner, that he drew them on, and brought them over to that he deſired. In ſum he did what he told them elſewhere, He became all to all men, that he might ſave ſome. 1 Cor. 9.22.In the Greek the word [men] is not. In the Originall it runs thus;〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am made (or become) all to all. I ap­ply my ſelfe to all times, and all perſons. I uſe all means to ſave ſome, in and by the exerciſe of my Miniſtery. And truly this hath alwayes been in my eye, and this way I have ever approv'd of; And to (my poor ability) followed in the courſe of my Miniſtery: having finiſhed a Text and Subject, it hath ſometimes put me to as carefull thoughts what to preach next, as how to preach: Eſpecially upon ſpeciall and extraordinary occaſions. I have been ſollicitous to take all advantages that might bring and win over thoſe I preach to, to the truth to be propoſed. And being invited to the obſervation of the laſt ſo­lemn Faſt, I accordingly made choiſe of the Text which was the ſubject of the Sermon following: How apt and pertinent, let wiſe men judge, I lookt with a ſad eye upon our manifold breaches, and our more ſins, (the cauſe of thoſe breaches.) And yet conſidering the Lords gracious diſpenſations (in the wonderfull and unexpected turns of providence) I was under ſome hopefull expectations that the Lord would alſo heale our breaches, if our wilfull obſtinacy and impenitence did not hinder and with-hold ſo great a mercy. And the people in ge­nerall, and my ſelfe in particular, being in an apprehenſion and expectation of the Kings being brought unto the throne, I thence took occaſion in my diſcourſe to ſuggeſt ſuch things as I conceiv'd might be profitable and conducent to what I in­tended, which was to in vite them to repentance. But as he ſaid of Bookes, Pro captu lectoris habent ſua fata libelli, According to the underſtanding of the Reader, ſo do books find entertainment: So may we ſay of Sermons; Accor­ding to the underſtanding of our Auditors, ſo are our Sermons accepted or rejected. Nay not onely according to their under­ſtanding, but many times (and with moſt) according to their ignorance, humours, fancies, intereſts. It was always ſo, e­ven with Chriſt, and his Apoſtles: Some believed their prea­ching, and ſome mock'd and derided. Some reproacht, be­lied and ſlandered both them and their Doctrine.

Thus it hath fared with me not onely at other times, but alſo at this time: And it is ſome comfort to me that I am not alone; But that my betters find no better entertainment from their Auditors, it makes me think it is not our fault, but theirs. And becauſe it doth ſo much quadrare (ſo ſuite) with my condition, I will make ſo bold, as to lay the complaint of a moſt eminent, able, and godly learned Preacher, (in his own words) before you, not being able to do it in better lan­guage. It is the Reverend Dr. Gauden, in his Sermon prea­ched in St. Pauls Church London, before the Lord Mayor, Lord Generall, &c. Feb. 28. 1659. Being a day of Solemn Thankſgiving, &c. Wherein (intending to deale faithfully and plainly, Having propoſed his Text, after a few words, he makes this entrance in page 2, 3, & 4. of that Sermon to this purpoſe. He ſeems very apprehenſive of the danger and dif­ficulty of free preaching in theſe times, wherein (as he ob­ſerves) people are not onely impatient to be touched freely, and ſearched throughly, but are alſo prone to plead (as the Devills in the Goſpel) who had poſſeſſed the poor man now a long time) againſt all health and recovery. Many men being like Cantors and Lazors (Canting beggars) in love with their wounds and ulcers: As getting their living more eaſily by keeping them open, raw, and running, then if they ſhould quite heal them up. And he takes notice of the tender­neſs of many mens minds, who are onely for lenitives and oyles, for ſoft, ſmooth, & ſupple applications even to their moſt deſperate hurts: But he profeſſes, to chuſe not to preach at all, then to preach timerouſly and precariouſ­ly, as if he ſhould ask men leave to be honeſt, or were afraid to ſpeak the word of God to them. And he further ſayes; When he is called to ſpeak in Gods name, he muſt be Parrheſiaſtes as well as Eccleſiaſtes. I am (ſayes he) to do it as a work-man that needs not to be aſhamed, either for his ignorance, or cowardiſe, or indiſcretion. And whether men will hear, or forbear, the whole counſel of God muſt be delivered in its ſeaſon, ſo as becomes the words of ſo­berneſs and truth: For the Church and Pulpit muſt not be a ſanctuary for inſolency, nor a Burrow or retreat for rude­neſs. No, however men become our enemies for ſpeaking the truth, yet it's better ſo, then to have God our enemie for ſmothering it, when it is juſt and ſeaſonable: And ſuch it is when neceſſary and ſoveraign to heale the hurt of a Church or State. Thus that reverent perſon. And then complains, It hath been his fate frequently to offend ſome men, when he hath been moſt intent to ſerve them, by Texts and Sermons, which he thought moſt apt, uſeful, and innocent; And then gives in three Texts which he preacht upon on 3. ſeveral great and ſpecial occaſions. One before the King, another before the long Parliament, the third elſewhere. And of all three (ſays he) though wholſome and innocent Texts, and I hope accordingly handled; yet I heard ſome unpleaſing eccho's and reflexions. The ſore and itching eares of ſome men in all ages are ſuch, that they will not endure〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉heal­ing, or ſound and wholſome doctrine, though the pain ari­ſeth from the ſores and inflammation in themſelves, and not from the plaiſter and hand which honeſtly applyes it. Yet they are prone, as in fell boyls and acute tumours, when but touched (though but gently) to fly upon thoſe that are next them, and cry aloud, O you hurt me, when the hurt is within, and from their ſelves, and their ſound parts will endure free and rough handling; ſuch as are un­found do moſt want it. And therefore if we will be faith­full to God, to our own ſouls, and our hearers, we muſt not flatter their ſores to their ruine: but rather chooſe to heal them, though at preſent we be thought to hurt them. Nor (ſayes he farther) ſhall our labour of love be in vain, ei­ther in the Lord, or before good men, who at length will find by experience that the wounds of a friend (which let out the putrified matter of painful tumors) are better then the kiſſes of an enemy, which do (infidis cicatricibus cuti­culam obducere.) Skin over with unfaithful ſcars, the ill-ſearched, & ill-purged Ulcers of mens hearts and lives. I hope this worthy perſon will pardon me, that I have made ſo bold with him, as to borrow ſo much from him, I ſhall pay it him in thoſe reſpects and honour I owe unto him for his no­ble diſpoſition and temper. And I rather chuſe thus to do, as hoping his worth will add more weight, then if it had been delivered in my own words.

And ſee, what is here delivered in the Sermon, was but as a propheſie what befell this good man and good Preacher af­terwards: For in his Epiſtle Dedicatory to the Lord May­or, Aldermen, and Court of Common-Councel (who gave him thanks for his Sermon, and intreated him to print it) he tells them, he heard ſome more offended at the plain-dealing he uſed, which poſſibly (ſayes he) was from their over-rawneſs, and ſoreneſs, more then from my roughneſs. As I aym to do things faithfully, perſonally; ſo decently, and diſcreetly. Nor do I thinke I am to learn of thoſe Cen­ſorious Cato's how to preach, any more then they will learn of me to buy and ſell, or how to fight and war. And he ſays, No man may wonder, if he dare to reprove thoſe ſins which ſome dare to do; or to approve, but dare not hear of, or re­pent. And that his parrheſia and freedome of ſpeech, as a man, a Chriſtian, and a Preacher, was ſuch, as became his feeling of the publique miſeries, the deſire of the Publique tranquility, and the ſenſe of that fidelity he did owe to God, his Countrey, them (to whom he preacht) and his owne ſoul.

And the Lord knows my owne ſoul can, and doth atteſt the ſame, in my poor weak labours and indeavours alſo; Though infinitely ſhort in worth of this moſt reverent perſon: To end with him, he tells us, Theſe are not times to palliate and ſpeak ſmooth and ſoft things: Never age had fouler hu­mours, or tumours, more felt and more painfull; more hard, and leſs mollified: And ſayes; No, as he would not injure any man, or feſter the times: ſo he abhorr'd to flatter them; which is the greateſt injury a Preacher can do to Church and State.

And now I muſt confeſs the ſubject of my diſcourſe was not of ſo high a nature, nor had I to do with ſo high an Auditory. Nor am I fit for ſuch an undertaking; nor have I quoted all this to any ſuch purpoſe.

But to let our petty world (here at home) know, that plain, free, home, and (as this worthy Doctor phraſes it) perſonal preaching, is not ſuch a ſin as our Ignaro's would make it. And that though people be angry with us for ſuch preaching, we muſt not ceaſe to ſecure our conſcience in the faithfull (though unpleaſing) diſcharge of our duty: And good Read­er, know, That as a neceſſity is laid upon thoſe who are ſent to preach; So a neceſſity is likewiſe laid upon them to deale punctually and particularly with the perſonall ſinnes (I don't ſay naming the perſons) of thoſe they preach to; which if they do, they ſhall be ſure to heare on't, If not with perſe­cution of the hand, yet with perſecution of the tongue.

And whereas ſome may ſay this, or that, in ſuch or ſuch a Sermon might have been forborn, Perhaps we may ſay ſo too. But if we (whom the Lord hath ſent to do his work; And (in our Studies applying our ſelves unto it) having beſought the Lord to teach us what to ſpeak, and how to ſpeak, as may be moſt for his glory, and the peoples good; And it be ſuggeſt­ed to us, that ſuch, or ſuch expreſſions would be moſt taking; or beſt remembred: Our diſcourſe thus and thus clothed in language, would be moſt effectual and conducent to the end intended. If we are thus perſwaded in our Conſciences, How ſhall we refuſe it?

Obj. It may be 'twill offend, diſpleaſe ſome? They'l ca­vill at it?

Anſ. It may be ſo; We hope not; We know no reaſon for it. Wee'l pray they may not. But is it a neceſſary truth? Is it uſefull, and ſeaſonable? Is good like to be done by it? (which is our errand and buſineſſe.) Muſt we forbear that which God in our Conſciences (according to his Word) tells us will do ſome people good, becauſe it will offend others? Tru­ly friends we (Preachers) many times offend (yea hurt) o­thers, when we know it not, nor ever meant or intended it. But is it our fault, or theirs? We meane the whole Congrega­tion good. If any do not underſtand, or miſ-underſtand, or miſ-interpret, or pervert our words, or meaning, Is it our fault? I tell you Sirs, this great truth, and minde it; Much hurt (yea more hurt then good) is many times (nay moſt times) done by our Sermons. And we (Preachers) in that, not to be blamed, but are accepted of God therein, and ſhall be rewarded. It's a ſad word (too true to many) that we further their damnation by our preaching. That one place (2 Cor. 2.14,15,16. ver. ) fully proves all this. And whence all this? But becauſe people do not heed (as they ought) what we ſay: Or they don't underſtand it, Or they won't practice it, Or (which is worſt of all) they withſtand, gainſay, per­vert, or wreſt it. And what? muſt we therefore forbear prea­ching? Muſt we forbear the truth, becauſe they abuſe it? And (perhaps) us for it? I trow not. And let me put another Caſe. It may be God by his Spirit (for we hope we are not with­out his imbreathings and ſuggeſtions) according to his word convinces and perſwades me, that ſuch or ſuch a truth (as before) is very ſeaſonable and uſefull: And in ſteps ſelfe, and tells me, This truth is teo tart, and it may create me trou­ble, I may heare ill, and beare ill for ſpeaking it; What ſhall I do in this caſe? Why truly, Selfe is ſometimes to be hearkned to: For we are not to create to our ſelves trouble unneceſſarily. But (as before) it is a truth neceſſary and ſeaſonable; May I (for fear) forbear it? Will you read what one (no phanatick, or of a factious or turbulent ſpi­rit) ſayes, A man of great parts, learning, and judgement, Dr. Jackſon;Dr. Jackſon heretofore Pre­ſident of Corp: Chriſti Colledg in Oxford, In his Treatiſe of Juſtifying Faith, sect. 2. cap. 15. pag. 279 Miniſters of the Goſpel (ſayes he) may deny Chriſt, or manifeſt their aſhamedneſs of his Goſpel as directly, by not laying his Law as cloſely to the great He­rods of the world (as John Baptiſt did (ſuppoſing the caſe to be as notorious, and as well known unto them (he meanes the Miniſters, as Herods was to John Baptiſt:) In this caſe they may as directly deny Chriſt, or be aſham'd of his Goſpel (in not dealing plainly and reproving) as if they had been afraid to confeſſe him, for feare of being put out of the Synagogue, &c. And he ſays, were John Baptiſts kind of preaching uſed in many Kingdoms, though by ſuch as profeſſe the ſame Religion with the Potentates, whom they ſhould offend with their boldneſs, I think (ſayes he) it would prove matter of Martyrdome in the end. And he farther ſayes; In that any age ſince Chriſtian Religion was firſt propagated, hath wanted ſtore of Martyrs, 'tis more to be a tributed unto the negligence, ignorance, and hypocriſie, or want of courage in Chriſts Ambaſſadors, or appointed Paſtors, then unto the ſin­cerity, mildneſſe, or fidelity of the Flock, eſpecially of the Bel-weathers, or chief Ring-leaders. And now friend! sare we (Miniſters) thus in danger? what ſhall we do? Truly we have more need of your pitty, and your prayers, then your cenſures and reproaches. But jacta eſt alea, It's better obey God, and fear God then men, and pleaſe God then men, Or our ſelves either; for in ſo doing, we ſhall have peace with him, and in our own conſciences, which is better then all the peace and comforts the world can afford us. And therefore we will bear it patiently, comfortably. But yet be­cauſe Sathan makes no ſmall advantage of thoſe reproaches that are caſt upon the Miniſters of the Goſpel (of which farther in the vindication) I ſhall once more appear in Print (though much aginſt my purpoſe) to ſtop the mouth either of prejudice, or wilfull calumny, or ſottiſh and ſleepy igno­rance, or byaſt intereſt, which will pervert any thing, be it never ſo innocent and harmleſſe. And this not without the advice and counſell of ſome worthy friends, and well-wiſhers who have been very ſenſible of thoſe unworthy rumours that have bin raiſed & ſpread by occaſion of this enſuing Sermon, which I ſhall now (good Reader) lay before thee, according to mine owne notes, and the beſt I could get of thoſe who noted after me. Poſſibly this trouble might be brought upon me, that ſome may reap benefit by this Sermon (or appendant diſcour­ſes) printed, as I have ſome cauſe to hope ſome did, when it was preached. To which end I commend thee and it unto God, beſeeching him to beſtow upon thee and me the ſpirit of power, of love, and of a ſound minde, 2 Tim. 1.7. For which thy prayers are deſired at the Throne of Grace (if thou haſt any intereſt there) by him, who is

Thy faithful friend and wel-wiſher, RA: FARMER.



IF thou be one of the ſimple ones, let me adviſe thee: Shoot not thy bolt too ſuddenly, but receive information from thoſe who are wiſer. If thou be a perſon of judgement and diſcretion, make uſe of it, and do not read by ſnatches, and then cenſure, but read all. And where thou poſſibly mayſt ſtumble or doubt (having read the former Epiſtle) favour me ſo far, as to read alſo my Vindication after. And I ſuppoſe we ſhall part friends, notwithſtanding all evill ſurmiſings.

HOSEA 6.1.

Come let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath ſmitten, and he will binde us up.

WEe have here a repenting people; and they the people of Iſrael, Gods people. Now repenting ſuppoſes ſinning; for repentance is not but for ſin. If there were no ſinning, there were no need of repenting. Now, All ſin, for there is no man living that ſinneth not, as 1 Kings 8.46. Particular perſons ſin, and people and Nations in general ſin. All ſin, even Gods people, his pe­culiar people ſin. And if his people ſinne as well as others, they ſhall ſuffer as well as others: Nay, Becauſe they are his people, therefore, if they ſin, they above all others ſhall ſuffer. Thus the Lord by the Prophet Amos, Chap. 3. verſ. 2. You onely have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will puniſh you for all your iniquities. Well, Gods people ſin, and Gods people ſuffer for their ſin: ſo theſe here. We may read of their ſin both before, and after the Text. In the Chapter before the Text, there you may read of multiplyed, complicated ſins, impudently, wilfully committed. Both Princes, the houſe of the King, and Prieſts, and all the people they had been nets and ſnares to betray one another into ſinne, Verſ. 1. of the foregoing Chapter. And in the 2d. Verſ. Thoſe revolters were profound to make ſlaughter; ſlaughter of men, and ſlaughter of ſacrifices. They would kill, and commit murder, and yet pretend unto Religion. And in this they were profound notable hypocrites, deep diſſemblers. For though they won't frame their courſes to Gods minde, verſ. 4. Yet they will go with their herds and their flocks to ſeeke the Lord, verſ. 6. Oh! they'l be hugely religious, they'l not ſpare for coſt, they brought their herds and their flocks to make ſa­crifices: But yet for all that, they ſhall not finde the Lord, ver. 6. God won't accept of ſuch impoſtors, ſuch pretenders, he hath with­drawn himſelf from them. He will not countenance, protect, or ſecure2 them, in the ſame verſe. Nay, if they go on in their ſin, and go fur­ther from God, God will go yet farther from them; I will go and return to my place, ver. the laſt. God will not appear amongſt them as he was wont by his wonted mercies, and gracious providences; Let the Aſſyrian, and King Jareb help them if they can. Thoſe Phy­ſicians of no value, to whom they fled for refuge and for healing, when they were ſmitten and wounded. If they ſerve falſe gods, let them when they have need go to them whom they have ſerved.

This was the ſtate and condition of the Princes of Iſrael at that time: But how was it with Ephraim? how was it with the people? (for ſo doth Ephraim ſometimes ſignifie.) Why, like Princes, like people. Being broken in judgement, (a ſottiſh, baſe, cowardly com­pany) they willingly walked after the Commandement. An Idolatrons command went forth from curſed Jeroboam: And the people being oppreſſed and over-born by power, they willingly walked after the commandement, verſ. 11. Oppreſſion makes men baſe and cowardly; and like Iſſachars Aſſe to couch and lie down under every burthen. And thus by their joynt and generall ſinning, they draw down a ge­nerall judgement: And that is verified, Delirant Reges, plectuntur Achivi.

And now God being gone, all their ſhifting cannot help them. In vain is ſalvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains, Jer. 3.23. Great men, men in high places, men in au­thority, that are as mountains and hills, theſe cannot ſave Truly in the Lord God onely is the ſalvation of Iſrael, In the ſame vers.

True, Salvation is in the Lord, but he is with-drawn and gone; he is returned to his place, and hides himſelfe, he will not ſave, we cannot finde him. Oh! fooliſh people and unwife, thus to forſake God, and to cauſe him to forſake you, and to leave you naked to your oppreſſors, when there is none to helpe, none to deli­ver.

But is he clean gone? will the Lord caſt off for ever? will he be fa­vourable no more? hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in an­ger ſhut up his tender mercies? Pſal. 77.7. No, though Gods peo­ple forget him, yet he will not forget them, Iſa. 49.15. But if he will not forget them, why doth he with-draw? why doth he hide himſelfe? why doth he not come in for his peoples reſcue, their aid, their help and ſuccour? And how long will he hide himſelfe in this our affliction, diſtreſſe, and miſery? Why? he is with-drawn, and returned to his place, he hides himſelfe as it were in heaven, till we3 acknowledge our offences, and by true repentance and unfained faith ſeek his face and favour; God doth with-draw to this purpoſe, that by his with-drawing he might draw us after him. He hides himſelfe till we acknowledge our offences, and by a lively act of faith fervently ſeek his face. For ſurely (ſaith the Lord, if they be not altogether ſenceleſs) in their affliction they will ſeeke me early, dili­gently, ſeriouſly, Chap. laſt, verſ. laſt. Come therefore, and let us return unto the Lord, &c. Come let us, Ʋs that are here this day, Come let Ʋs: And oh! that all the Nation might hear this Call, and anſwer it: Come let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torne and he will heal us, he hath ſmitten, and he will binde us up. After two dayes he will revive us. In the third day he will raiſe us up, and we ſhall live in his ſight.

We have in the words,

  • Firſt, an invitation to repentance.
  • Secondly, an incouragement thereunto.
  • The invitation, Come let us return unto the Lord.
  • The incouragement, He hath torn, and he will heale us; he hath ſmitten, and he will binde us up.

The Text may be taken as the Word of God, by the Prophet, put into the peoples mouths; Or as a direction and preſcription from God to his people, ſhewing them what to do in a ſad afflicted ſtate and condition. And beloved, this is no ſtrange notion, And it is a comforting and encouraging conſideration: God, he is ſo willing of his peoples returnings, that they might enjoy his favourable coun­tenance, as that, even when his afflicting hand is upon them, he not onely nvites them to it, but he even teaches them what to ſay, and in what words to addreſs themſelves unto him, that they might prevail with him; ſo gracious and tender a Father is he. This you have moſt ſweetly and fully in this very Prophet, Hoſea 14.1. O Iſrael return unto the Lord thy God, for thou haſt faln by thine iniquity, take with you words; (what are they? why thoſe that follow) ſay unto him, Take away our iniquities, and receive us graciouſly, and ſo will we render the calves of our lips. (And then it follows) Aſhur ſhall not ſave us, &c. And when his people take this advice, and returne unto the Lord, then will the Lord heale their back-ſliding, and love them freely, then will his anger be turned away from them, &c.

Oh beloved! what precious mercies, and unexpreſſible kindneſſes doth God offer to a repenting, a returning people: So tender a Fa­ther is he, that he doth not only invite to repent, but teaches4 them how to demean themſelves, and puts words into their mouths, to come unto him withal. As a tender Mother, that deſires to have her Child to go, ſtretches forth her hand to it, bids it come, gives words of encouragement to it that ſo it may come; Even ſo, God the Lord calls, invites, incourages his people to come unto him by unfeined repentance. Nay, not only ſo, but (as I ſaid) he teaches them with what words to come unto him. So here; Come let us re­turn unto the Lord, &c. Beloved, it is a great incouragement to poor, diſtreſſed, afflicted ſouls, that the Lord is ſo deſirous of our re­pentance, as that he not onely invites us to repent, but alſo tea­ches us how to repent, and return to him. Come therefore let us re­turn unto the Lord. Ʋs of this Land and Nation, Ʋs of the three Nations, Ʋs of this City, Ʋs of this Congregation, Let us return unto the Lord.

Return unto the Lord! Why? have we departed from him? or can we depart from him? how can we depart from him? Is not God preſent every where? Pray ſirs read what David tells you in Pſ. 139.7. Whither ſhall I goe from thy ſpirit? or whither ſhall I flye from thy preſence? If I aſcend up into heaven, thou art there: If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the utmoſt parts of the ſea, even there ſhall thine hand lead me, and thy right hand ſuſtain me, How then can we go from God? and conſequently return to him?

To this I anſwer: It is one thing to depart from (and conſe­quently to return to) Gods eſſentiall and all-powerful preſence; And it is another thing to depart from, and return to his gracious and moſt merciful preſence. There is an eſſential preſence (a preſence of Gods power & might,) And there is a gracious preſence; a preſence of his mercy and protection. Now, Gods eſſential preſence is never with-drawn from his Creatures; For in him they live, and move, and have their being. But then all who partake of his powerful preſence, do not partake of his gracious preſence. God is ſaid to be near or far off a people, and they are ſaid to be near or far from God, as they are in his grace and favour. When in mercy he extends his grace and favour to a people, then is he ſaid to be neare: unto them.

Now beloved, There is one thing makes a diſtance and ſeparation between God and a ſoule, or between God and a people: and that is ſin, Iſa. 59.1. Behold the Lords hand is not ſhortned that he cannot ſave, neither his eare heavy that he cannot hear; but your iniquities have ſeparated between you and your God: Your ſins have hid his face5 from you that he will not hear. By ſin we go away from God, and then God goes away from us: not by his power, that he cannot do, for he is preſent ſo every where, But he goes away, in with-drawing his grace, his love and favour, his moſt mercifull provi­dences, protections, and ſpeciall preſervations from a people; That's Gods going away. And we by further ſin, go away further from God, and make the diſtance greater. And as by ſin we go a­way, ſo by repentance we return again to God, and ſo God returns again to us, and receives us into grace and favour.

And now, ſirs, Let me aske you; Have we not ſinned, and gone away from God? Do not our iniquities teſtifie againſt us plainly, to our faces? And hath not God departed from us, and left us to run unto the Aſſyrian, and King Jareb? Interpreters do give vari­ous Interpretations of that word what is meant by King Jareb; but yet all agree in this, that it ſignifies vaine helps. Friends, all helps and refuges are vaine, when God forſakes a people: And by the vanity and inſufficiency of all our helps and helpers that have all failed us, is it not very manifeſt that God hath hitherto left us? And why is it? but becauſe by ſin we have left him, and departed from him. Will you give me leave to be plain, (and why ſhould not I at ſuch a time as this is?) Have not our Kings and Princes heretofore, and our princely Prieſts and Biſhops been as ſnares upon Mizpah, and nets upon Tabor? (their high places and great offices) have they not tyrannized too much? Have they not revolted, and been profound to make ſlaughter, notwithſtanding they have been reproved and admoniſhed? I beſeech you ſirs, let not the appre­henſion of our preſent greater ſufferings cauſe us altogether to for­get our former iniquities. People are apt generally to complain of the preſent burthen, and murmur and forget what is paſt. And indeed, the greatneſſe of our burthens may make us willing to be rid of them; But yet let us not be ſuch ſottiſh aſſes, as not to remem­ber our former gal'd backs. In this day of our Humiliation, when we are ſeeking for establiſhment, let us not forget the cauſe and ground of our unſettlement. It was a ſore Judgement that we were removed from our old foundations, but we muſt remember who it was that removed us. Friends let us conſider who it was that broke us, was it not the Lord? Come let us return unto the Lord, for he hath ſmitten us, &c. Whatſoever be the hand that gives the ſtroke, or whoſoever be the inſtruments, yet it is God that guides it. Amos 3.6. Shall there be evill in the City, and the Lord hath not done it? 6Shall there be evill in a City, in a Nation, in the three Nations, and the Lord hath not done it? By evil, I underſtand the evil of pu­niſhment. Now I ſay, is the evill of puniſhment in the Nation, in the three Nations, or upon any particular perſon, without the evill of ſin? will you ſay that the righteous Judge of heaven and earth hath not done right? When he hath brought the evill of puniſhment up­on a Nation or perſon, will you ſay that the evill of ſinne was not the preceding, and the procuring cauſe? I know well that God doth ſometimes puniſh the ſinne of Princes in and upon the People, and the ſin of People in and upon the Princes: but then both of them have ſinned. And though it may be the ſin of the one hath been more provoking then the ſinne of the other; yet when God comes with ſweeping judgements upon all, ſurely all have had a great ſhare in ſinning. And whether the ſins of our Princes, or the ſins of the peo­ple, have brought theſe heavy judgements upon us, God the Judge of all the earth beſt knows: I ſhall not take upon me to determine it; for what am I, that I ſhould ſtep into the Chair of the Almigh­ty? but yet let it be conſidered, From that very time that thoſe three eminent men ſtood in ſuch a diſgraceful and opprobrious man­ner upon a pillory at Weſtminſter like Rogues and Cutpurſes, Let me tell you, ſince that time, neither the King, nor his party proſpered; I mean thoſe three worthy profeſſors of the three noble Sciences, Divinity, Law, and Phyſicke. But yet ſurely the ſins of this Land were ripe for judgement, or elſe the judgement would not have been ſo univerſal and generall. Hath not that dreadful judgement threatned and denounced of old, been moſt ſadly fulfilled upon us? Iſa. Ch. 3. begin. Behold, the Lord of hoſts doth take away from Je­ruſalem and from Judah the ſtay and the ſtaff, the whole ſtay of bread and the whole ſtay of water: the mighty man and the man of war, the Judge and the Prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the Captain of fifties, and the honourable man, and the Counſellors, the cunning Artificer, and the eloquent Oratour: And I will give children to be your princes, and babes ſhall rule over them: And the people ſhall be oppreſſed every one by another, the child ſhall be have himſelfe proudly againſt the ancient, and the baſe againſt the honourable, &c.

Hath not this been, and is it not this day ſadly verified? Is not contempt of Magiſtracy and Miniſtry grown to an inſupportable height? Hath not this I ſay, been ſadly verified in theſe our dayes? And is it not becauſe our ſins have been univerſall? We will not〈◊〉the fault upon one head, but take it upon all, for we have all7 contributed to the common heaps of ſin, and its infinite mercy that we have not been involved all in the common deſtruction: And have not we, we of this City, Magiſtrates and Miniſters, Parents and Children, Maſters and Servants, have we not all had a hand in the provocation more or leſſe? Can we forget that torpor, indiffe­rency, lukewarmneſſe and neutrality in our Magiſtracy, that hereto­fore gave occaſion to that flood of Hereſie and Blaſphemy to come in amongſt us, and to make their ſeat here, to the poyſoning of the Country round about us?

And as for the people of this City, let me not be unfaithfull to­wards them. Sirs, you complain that your Trade is decayed, and that you are ready to break, many of you, and I think you don't lie. Your Trade hath ſo forſaken you, that you are ready to forſake your Trades. And what is the reaſon? Surely God doth not leave a people but upon ſome occaſion. Truly when God forſakes Tradeſ­men, no marvail if they forſake their Trades; without God none can proſper: Tradeſmen may work hard, and fare hard, and go mean in habit, riſe up early, go to bed late, and cark and care, and get nothing unleſſe the Lord be with them. Ʋnleſſe the Lord keep the City, the watchman watcheth in vain, &c. Pſal. 127. Why now, a general forſaking of God, will cauſe the Lord to depart ge­nerally from you. And beloved, that I may not dwell altogether on generals, not to mention that drunkenneſſe and prophaneneſſe, Sabboth-breaking, blaſphemous Oaths, and bitter Execrations, Pride, contempt of Magiſtracy, and undervaluing of our Superiours, which upon this loſſe of government is now ſadly returning again upon us, I ſay to let theſe alone (which yet do too evidently ſtare us in the face) and not to ſpeak to them: Do not the people of this City in general, & have they not for a long time departed from God, and forſaken him in his Miniſters and ſervants whom he calls and ſends forth into his Vineyard? I will not now enter upon that com­mon place of that comfortable and honourable incouragement that is due to the Miniſters of the Goſpel: It's ſo clear a truth, that in plain reaſon you cannot gainſay it. And yet how infamouſly famous is this City above all other Cities in this Nation in this particular? Beloved, let me not be counted your Enemie for telling you the truth, (as you know I do) and dealing thus plainly; Surely ſirs, 'tis forſaking God, to forſake his ſervants, and he will not take it kind­ly. I might mention other ſins whereby we have gone away from God, and ſo cauſed him to go away and forſake us. And if God8 forſake us, no marvail if we be in a broken and diſtracted condition. See this 2 Chron. 15.1,2,3. The ſpirit of the Lord came upon A­zariah the ſon of Obed, and he went to meet Aſa, and ſaid unto him, heare me Aſa, and all Judah and Benjamin, the Lord is with you whilſt you be with him: If you ſeek him he will be found of you, but if ye forſake him, he will forſake you. And ſee then their ſad ſtate after. Beloved, when God goes away with the honey of pity and mercy, he leaves ſuch a ſting of wrath and judgement behind him, that it ſhall vex and torment the very ſoules of a people: And then ſhall they finde that it is a ſad and a bitter thing to forſake the Lord

And now beloved, what remains, but that we having forſaken the Lord, we return again unto him. Come, let us return again unto the Lord, for he hath ſmitten, and he will heale, &c.

Come let us return. Returning is nothing but repenting, and both of them do intend amendment. He that amends, repents, and he that repents returns; you ſhall find them oft put together in Scrip­ture. So Ezek. 14.6. Thus ſaith the Lord, repent and turne your ſelves from your idols, and turne away your faces from all your abo­minations. So in Chap. 18. of the ſame Propheſie, Caſt away from you all your tranſgreſſions whereby you have tranſgreſſed, make you a new heart and a new ſpirit, for why will you dye O houſe of Iſrael? If you repent of the evill of ſin, God will repent of the evill of pu­niſhment: And if you return from your evill wayes, God will re­turn to you in mercy, and tender compaſſion. Come then let us re­turn. Return, return, O England, Return O Briſtoll, Return O thou my ſoule, and all you beloved that hear me this day, Return unto the LORD our God, for we are broken by our ſinne, Chap. 14 1.

Watchman what of the night? ſaith the Lord by the Prophet, Iſa. 21.11,12. Watchman what of the night? He anſwered, the morn­ing cometh and alſo the night, if ye will enquire, enquire; Return, Come. Sirs, there is a night and a morning, this I ſee. If you put this Querie to me, Watchman what ſeeſt thou? I ſay the morning cometh, and alſo the night. We have a night and a morning in our Text, and ſo alſo in our Nation if we neglect it not. We have had by Gods chaſtiſing hand upon us (and oh, that it may be a re­forming hand) nights of tearing and ſmiting, the Lord hath torne us, and he hath ſmitten us. The hand of God upon us hath been a darke night of terrours and ſorrows. Dark and black diſpenſations hath the Lord exerciſed us with: He hath ſmitten us, he hath broken9 us, theſe are our nights. The morning now we hope alſo cometh: He will heale us, he will binde us up, that's the morning: And oh! Let that happy morning of Englands joy and deliverance make haſt, and not tarry. It may be, beloved, as we have been under the curſe, and judgement formerly mentioned, Iſa. 3. So we may alſo ſee that happy morning of joy and reviving that is promiſed by the ſame Prophet Iſay 1.25,26. I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy droſſe, and take away all thy tinne. Do you expect a ſettlement? Truly then your ſins muſt be purged away, and then I will reſtore thy Judges as at the firſt, and thy Counſellors as at the beginning; Afterwards thou ſhalt be called a City of righteouſneſſe, the faithfull City: Sion ſhall be redeemed with judgement, and her con­verts with righteouſneſſe. Oh beloved! for ſuch a happy day, when God the Lord ſhall delight in us, and in mercy ſhall beſtow upon us that bleſſing here promiſed, of a righteous, juſt, and lawfull Government. And though God ſhould not do it in ſuch a way as we expect, yet he will do it in ſuch a way as is beſt for us, if we pleaſe him, which let us leave to him and our Superiours. Let us then return unto the Lord, and leave it to him for our eſtabliſhment and ſettlement. Let us I ſay, turn unto the Lord. Truly ſirs (will you give me leave to open my heart unto you) my heart trembles to think of ſome mens turnings, and of ſome turnings which ſome men look for; not a turning to God, but a turning further from God. Many people expect a change, not that they might change their lives, or manners; No, beloved, they would have a turning, not to God, but to the Devill. Oh! how would ſome men turn to the Devil of drunkenneſs? how would ſome men turn to the Devil of ſwearing? to the Devil of Sabboth-breaking, and all man­ner of prophaneſſe? That they might live and ſin without controul. Friends is this the turning that God looks for? Surely ſirs, theſe people (if they might have their wills) would bring in a night, a ſad and darke night in ſtead of a light and gladſome morning, a ſadder night then ever yet England ſaw; For if the Lord ſhould eſtabliſh us, and we make uſe of that eſtabliſhment to eſtabliſh our ſelves in ſin, and ſo provoke the Lord to go further from us, and leave us, we have juſt grounds to fear that the Lord would then ne­ver come again amongſt us.

Do theſe men turn unto the Lord? how many of them probably are in the Tavern at this time? how many in the Alehouſe at this very time? At this time I ſay, wherein (as one would expect) we10 ſhould all as one man joyn together in our earneſt prayers, to im­plore a bleſſing from heaven upon the Counſel of the Parliament, ſhortly to be aſſembled, that the Lord would make them inſtru­ments for our ſettlement and eſtabliſhment now after all our break­ings and ſhakings. But where are they? Do theſe men walk in Gods wayes? Do theſe men look for a change that may be for the better? Do theſe men look for eſtabliſhment, and that the Nation ſhould be ſetled upon their deſires, and upon their endeavours?

There is a place, that I hope in all things doth not run parallel, but in this is to our purpoſe. It is in 1 Sam. 12.19. All the people ſaid unto Samuel, pray for thy ſervants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not, for we have added unto all our ſins this evill to aske us a King. Now I ſay, I do not conceive that the Text runs parallel with our caſe in this particular; therefore miſtake me not. But now marke, Samuel ſaid unto the people, feare not, ye have done all this wickedneſſe; yet turn not aſide from following the Lord, but ſerve the Lord with all your hearts, and turn not aſide, for then ſhould you go after vaine things that cannot profit nor deliver, for they are vain. It was not ſo great a ſinne in them, but that deſiring and having a King was conſiſtent with ſerving the Lord: Nor had they thereby ſo ſin'd as to forſake God. Turn not aſide (ſayes he) from following the Lord, but ſerve the Lord, &c. But then go on to the two laſt verſes: Onely feare the Lord and ſerve him in truth with all your heart, for conſider how great things he hath done for you: But if you ſtill do wickedly, you ſhall be conſumed both you and your King

People think, Oh I if they had a King, all ſhall be well, their ſtate and condition ſhall then be proſperous, and they ſhall be all ſafe. But beloved, If men go after vaine things, if they do wick­edly, it cannot be a King that can help them. The people of Iſrael they had a King according to their deſires; But what, was that e­nough to ſecure them? Surely if the Lord forſake them, it could not be their King that could help them: and therefore ſaith the Pro­phet, verſ. 22. The Lord will not forſake his people for his great names ſake, becauſe it hath pleaſed the Lord to make you his people. If the Lord hath once aſſumed a people to be his, he will do much for them, and beare long with them ere he will forſake them. And therefore as the Prophet there, verſ. 29. would pray for them, ſo alſo would he teach them the good and right way. Fear the Lord, ſaith he, and ſerve him in truth, with all your hearts, for conſider how great things he hath done for you, verſ. 24. And beloved, hath not11 God done great things for us? What great hopes hath he given us of a ſettlement after all our feares and confuſions? And we expect a King: But if ye ſtill do wickedly, ye ſhall be deſtroyed both you and your King. Mark, That which the hearts of the people were ſet upon, was a King, nothing would pleaſe them but a King, yea you ſhall have a King; But yet do not go away from God, and follow after vain things, for if you do, you ſhall be conſumed and deſtroyed, both you and your King together. Beloved, there's nothing that ſo ſurely brings ruine and deſtruction upon a King and Kingdome, as wilfull and reiterated ſins and wickedneſſes: If you ſtill do wickedly, you ſhall be deſtroyed both you and your King. You did wickedly before, and what became of your King? was it your wickedneſſe or his? Many of you will not ſay it was his. And if you ſtill do wickedly, the next King (for ought I know) may fare as he did, therefore take heed of ſin. Beloved, I propoſe this one thing to you, it was ei­ther the ſin of the King (the Father) that brought the evill upon him, or the ſin of the People, or both together. If his own ſinne, then the judgement was juſt upon him as to God, though not in them who did it; But if it was the ſin of the people, let me ask you, will not that which ruin'd the Father ruine the Son? If you ſtill do wickedly, you ſhall be deſtroyed both you and your King.

Surely Kings, Princes, and chief Magiſtrates are leaſt beholding to drunkards, to murderers, to prophane perſons, to unclean laſci­vious perſons, to thoſe that wallow in the ſtinking puddle and naſty dunghill of ſin: Kings and Princes are leaſt of all beholding unto them, for they draw down judgement upon the whole Nation. Theſe perſons, though they look for a morning of joy and gladneſs upon the Nation, yet will ſurely bring a diſmal night of ſorrow notwith­ſtanding their expectations.

And therefore, Come let us return unto the Lord, that as he hath torn us for our ſins, ſo he may binde us up; and as he hath broken us for our tranſgreſſions, ſo he may heale us upon our returning: Here's incouragement, which is the ſecond part of the Text. Of which a little.

Friends, none but he that ſmites us can beale us; none but he that tear's can binde us up. All other Phyſitians, all other Chyrurgions, they are but meer Quacks and Empericks. We may ſay of them as Job of his friends, Job 13.4. Ye are forgers of lies, ye are phyſitians of no value. And beloved, have we not found it ſo in our State-Mountebancks, who have ſet up their Stages, that they might pick12 our Pockets, and made us bow down, that they might ride over us? Have we not found that of David verified? Men of high degree are a lie, and men of low degree are altogether vanity? Are they to be truſted in? Is there any more weight in them then in the duſt of the ballance? O let us return therefore unto the Lord, for he hath broken us, and he will heale us, he hath ſmitten us, and he onely can binde us up: He hath here promiſed it, if we return (as before) unto him: And beloved, conſider this, as God wounds and ſmites by his in­ſtruments, ſo he alſo heals and binds up by inſtruments. The enemies of Gods people, God makes uſe of as the rod in his hand to chaſtiſe and correct his Children for their ſins: and he alſo raiſes up inſtru­ments to deliver them from their ſufferings. In Eſay 58. there you have a promiſe made, that the juſt and righteous ſhall build the old waſte places, ſhall raiſe up the foundations of many generations, and ſhall be called the repairer of the breach, the reſtorer of the paths to dwell in. Do you look for happy dayes in England? Would you have the Old waſte places built, and the breaches repaired? Why, then ſee what the Lord requires of you: Read that place fore-quo­ted, Iſa. 58.6. Is not this the Faſt that I have choſen? &c. This is a day wherein you faſt and humble your ſelves to ſeek eſtabliſhment. Well, will you ſee what Faſt the Lord requires? Looſe the bands of wickedneſſe, undo every heavy burthen, let the oppreſſed go free, and that ye break every heavy yoke; It is to deale thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are caſt out to thy houſe; When thou ſeeſt the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thy ſelf from thine owne fleſh: Then ſhall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health ſhall ſpring forth ſpeedily, &c. And verſ. 12. They that be of thee ſhall build the old waſte places, thou ſhalt raiſe up the foun­dations of many generations, &c. Though our government hath layn in the duſt theſe many yeares, and though we have had a dark and black night upon us, yet God can cauſe our light to break forth as the morning; he can raiſe us up ſome to build our waſte places, to be repairers of our breaches, and reſtorers of paths to dwell in.

But I ſay, the promiſe is to good and righteous men; Theſe are the men, if any, that muſt lay the foundations: not prophane looſe wretches, enemies to all righteouſneſſe, the Lord in mercy keep ſuch out of that great Aſſembly of Parliament: And if any get in, the Lord in his wiſdome find out a way to caſt them out again. Beloved, nothing but juſtice, and truth, and righteouſneſſe, and mercy can heale a broken Nation, let us then this day, and every13 day elſe beg of God, that he would graciouſly be pleaſed to be pre­ſent with, and to ſit Preſident in, and over that great Councel of the Land, that they may break off every yoke, and take off every heavy burthen, and keep off all unjuſt yokes and heavy burthens that any whatſoever would impoſe upon us. That ſo that great Aſſembly may be a repairer of our breaches, and a reſtorer of our paths to dwell in. Let us pray that both they, and all we may be more carefull to bring King Jeſus into our hearts, then K. Charles into his Throne: Not as if I looked on theſe two as contradictory, oppoſite, or deſtructive the one unto the other; But thus, I tell you King Jeſus is to be preferred before any mortall creature what­ſoever: And if he that ſhall rule be carefull to rule according to Truth, and under King Jeſus, If God and the great Council of the Nation ſhall think fit, Let him come and welcom.

But ſirs, let me tell you, King Charles cannot ſave your ſoules; but if King Jeſus rule in your hearts, he can and will ſave you: What would it advantage you, if all of you had your hearts deſire here? If things go even as you would wiſh? and yet when Death comes, you ſhould be drag'd to Hell, to endleſſe torments, what would it advantage you? Be not then ſo mad as to purſue world­ly concernments, or worldly comforts with ſuch eagerneſſe: But a­bove all ſeek and purſue after things of everlaſting concernment: And I tell you no mortall King can ſave your ſouls, and therefore let us moſt look that King Jeſus his reign and government may be eſtabliſhed over us. See his ſweet and gracious government, Iſa. 32. begin. Behold a King ſhall reign in righteouſneſſe, and Princes ſhall rule in judgement, and a man ſhall be as a hiding place from the winds, and a covert from the tempeſt as rivers of water in a dry land, & as the ſhadow of a great rocke in a weary land, &c. Ther's a deſcription given of a bleſſed and good King: He ſhall be a ſhelter, a cover­ing, he ſhall be all in all to a diſtreſſed people. Jer. 23.5. there it is ſaid, Behold the dayes come ſaith the Lord, that I will raiſe unto David a righteous branch, and a King ſhal reign and proſper, and ſhall execute judgement and juſticein the earth; in thoſe days Judah ſhall be ſafe, and Iſrael ſhall dwell ſafely, and this is the name whereby he ſhall be called, The Lord our righteouſneſs. This is ſpoken of the Lord Jeſus Chriſt, he that is the King of Kings, he ſhall rule in Righteouſneſs. And he or they that Rule under him, muſt rule in Righteouſneſſe; Let us not then look ſo much (as moſt do) after wordly peace and freedome, and temporal deliverance from preſent14 burdens, as after ſpiritual peace, and freedome from everlaſting torments; not ſo much to enjoy periſhing comforts, as to have the comforts of everlaſting enjoyments: And then may we expect the performance of what is promiſed in the cloſe of our Text. After two dayes will he revive us, in the third day he will raiſe us up, and we ſhall live in his ſight; We ſhall live not onely temporally, com­fortably and happy, but a life heavenly and everlaſting, we ſhall be happy to all eternity. Then (as it follows) ſhall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord, more of Gods minde, and of his mer­cies, and he ſhall come unto us as the raine, as the early and latter rain upon the earth, which being parched with drought, re­ceiveth it in readily, fructifieth, and bringeth forth abundantly. Come then, let us all return unto the Lord, for as he hath torne, ſo will he heale, and as he hath ſmitten, ſo will he bind us up.


HEre's my Sermon, now where's my ſin? What's my Charge with which I have been ſo (I cannot ſay whether more) igno­rantly or maliciouſly traduced: why its three-fold; I have preacht againſt the King, and the coming in of the King: So ſome, My whole Sermon drives at this; The coming in of the King would bring in prophaneneſſe; ſo others. A third ſort ſay, I am angry. Now to anſwer to theſe diſtinctly. And firſt, I have preacht againſt the King, and his coming in, I ask wherein? how doth that appear? I will come as cloſe and as ſpeedily as I can to my Charge, I mean to that part of my Sermon from whence they might ſuppoſe me crimi­nous. I ſhall therefore paſſe over almoſt one halfe of it, for that was but by way of Explication: And it concern'd others, Iſrael. That troubles not, no preaching at a distance, and ſpeaking of o­ther mens faults, and reproving them, that bites not, as much as you will of that: But this home-preaching, and treading too cloſe upon our heels, This gauls, this vexes this troubles us. Why, what's the matter? what's the matter? Did not you ſay. That becauſe by our ſins we had left God, therefore God had left us? And did you not ſay, That our Kings and our Princes heretofore, and our15 Princely Prieſts and Biſhops had been as ſnares upon Mizpah, and as nots upon Tabor (their high places and great offices). And how have they not rag'd and tyranniz'd, &c. And did you not beſeech us, that we ſhould not let the apprehenſions of our preſent greater ſufferings, cauſe us altogether to forget our former iniquities? And did you not adviſe us, that upon that day of our ſolemn Humilia­tion, wherein we ſought to God for ſettlement, that we ſhould not forget the cauſe and ground of our unſettlement? Here's enough to anſwer at once and together, and I think this is my greateſt charge. And now what of all this? Let me ask you by your cavilling a­gainſt this, Don't you diſcover your ignorance? Is it not plain you are not acquainted with the Scripture? Or that you take no notice, or underſtand not what you read, or hear? That you are meer ſtran­gers to the nature and manner of a true Faſt? Is not a faſting day (eſpecially publique, generall, and ſuch ſolemn Faſt dayes) a day wherein to humble our ſoules before the Lord by a hearty, ſincere, and impartiall confeſſion and acknowledgement of all our ſinnes? And being a generall day of Humiliation through the whole Land, to confeſſe and be humbled for the ſins of the whole Land in general. And in ſuch a day are not the ſins both of Princes and People both paſt and preſent to be remembred and acknowledged? And that not onely in generall termes (which is moſtly ſlight and overly) but punctually and particularly, of thoſe ſins they were guilty of, and lay under. This is (if you know not, as it ſeems you do not) for your better information and (as I deſire) Reformation; Do but read the inſtances of the Solemn Faſts recorded in Scripture, and you will be wiſer hereafter. I reſer you for this more particularly to thoſe three moſt Solemn Faſts which are there recorded, Ezra 9. Nehem. 9. and Dan. 9. And ſee and obſerve the manner of the ce­lebration, and whether their particular ſins were not enumerated, confeſſed and bewailed. And had we of this Land and Nation no ſins to be remembred? to be confeſſed? Are you ſo forgetfull? or were you ignorant of them? Are we not unſetled? Are not our foundations of government overturned? Do not the pillars of the Nation tremble? Is it not a Judgement? Do I not ſay ſo much? And what were there no ſins that are the cauſes of it? Do ſuch great, and heavy, and generall judgements befall a Nation (both King, Princes, Prieſts and People) without ſin procuring them? you dare not ſay ſo? And were there no ſins in England but the ſins of the people? What was the Popiſh Match? and the building of Houſes16 and Chappels thereupon for Idolatrous and ſuperſtitious worſhip? What was the countenancing and exerciſe of that falſe worſhip, e­ven in the Kings own dwelling? And were not our Communion-Tables turn'd into Altars, with ſuperſtitious cringings and bow­ings towards them? and in ſome places wax Tapers ſet upon thoſe Altars? and ſecond Service (which the people could not〈◊〉) there performed? How was the zealous profeſſion of Religion (un­der the nickname of Puritaniſme) diſcountenanced and diſgraced? How did the Court-Biſhops (eſpecially the Biſhop of Canterbury, Dr. Laud) vex, perplex, and ruine men in their High Commiſ­ſion Court, and Star-Chamber? How would drunken and prophane Miniſters (if but zealous for Ceremonies) give the checke to (and up­on the leaſt occaſion) trouble and ſue the beſt Knights and Gentle­men in the Country even for trifles, and be therein upheld and coun­tenanced by thoſe Court-Biſhops; Inſomuch, that when the Knights and Gentlemen were aſſembled in Parliament, and had op­portunity to be revenged upon them, they ding'd them quite down without mercy or conſideration.

I need not tell you what courſes were taken that the King might be maintained without Parliaments, and ſo with out the love of his Subjects, and redneſſe of their grievances, I could name much, more; you that liv'd in thoſe times, and were able make obſer­vation know it. If you don't, others do. And are not theſe grounds of unſettlement? And upon a ſpecial ſolemn Faſt (ſuch a one as this eſpecially) wherein we ſought to God for eſtabliſhment and ſettle­ment) would it not be proper, that theſe things and ſuch the like might and ſhould have been remembred and mentioned, the more to conſternate our ſpirits, and promote our humiliation: But you ſee I did not, I lightly paſt it over in Generals.

Oh! But you ſaid, ſince thoſe three eminent perſons, profeſſors of thoſe three moſt noble Profeſſions, Divinity, Law, and Phy­ſicke ſuffered upon the Pillory like Rogues and Cutpurſes in ſuch an opprobrious and diſgraceful manner. That the K. and his party never proſpered, did I ſay ſo? and did I not ſay true? Did not their Cauſe go every day backward? I ſay, their Cauſe, the King and Biſhops, for they I meant, I put them both together. There is a ſaying, In nomine Domini incipit omne malum: And every man that was acquainted with the Tranſactions of thoſe Times, cannot but acknowledge, that that was the ſource of all our miſeries: So dangerous a thing is it for Clergy-men to leave their Calling, and17 turn Courtiers. Men whoſe riches lie in their heads, will be al­wayes tampering. 'Tis good therefore they be kept to their proper buſineſſe.

For ſay, was it not a pretence of conformity and uniformity in Religion that began all our quarrell? Not that I think an Ʋnifor­mity an evil (what ever others ſay) but rather a good, and by all good wayes to be endeavoured, and I ſuppoſe till then we ſhall not be well ſetled: And ſure the quarrell began there, I could wiſh the ſettlement began there; For upon true judgement I ſpeak it, though it be a ſhame and a matter of ſadneſſe: Moſt of the troubles and combuſtions in Civil States have been either begun or fomented by men of our profeſſion, I mean of the Clergy, and was it not ſo with us? Our firſt War intended, was it not againſt the Scots? and wherefore was it? who began it? Was it not called generally Bellum Epiſcopale, the Biſhops War, I put the King and Biſhops together, with reſpect to this: The Biſhop could not begin a War (I mean arm the people) without a King. And the Biſhop having ſo great a power and influence upon the King, prevail'd with him to raiſe Armes againſt them (the Scots.) And the immediate Prodromus and forerunner of this War, was it not the moſt horrid and reproachful ſtanding of theſe eminent perſons upon the Pillory? I do profeſſe (the perſons, and every thing conſidered) it was the ſaddeſt ſight (next to the Kings beheading) that ever (eſpecially for many gene­rations) was ſeen in England. I ſaw not the latter, but I did the for­mer. And I well remember Mr. Burtons words when upon the Pil­lory; Marke it (ſays he) little do we know what this dry tree (point­ing to the Pillory) may bring forth. And ſpeedily after, the next news from Scotland was; If the Engliſhman looſe his lugg, the Scot would loſe his cragg, meaning againſt the rage and tyranny of the Biſhop: For having dealt thus barbarouſly with theſe three ſo emi­nent perſons, he then thought the terrour thereof would have daun­ted and cowed the Scottiſh Nation, when as this did but heighten their indignation, and raiſe greater oppoſition againſt him.

Yea, but were not the Scots too blame in this matter? It may be ſo, but I know it not, for I am not acquainted with the Laws, Rights, and Conſtitutions of their Kingdom, and therfore I ſay no more to it. But I ask this queſtion; Was their not entertaining Epiſcopal Go­vernment, and the Service-book a ſufficient ground to embroil two Nations, two Chriſtian Nations in War, to ſhed the blood one of another? And if (for conformities ſake with England) Scotland18 muſt have a Service-Book, why could not our own Engliſh Service-Book ſerve the turn? but there muſt be divers alterations, more conform to Romes language, then in our own Liturgie; of which Mr. Prins Book to that purpoſe can give you information. But the Scots abhorrid it as Swines fleſh, and it would not down with them. And no doubt, could they have been beaten into it, to have dined on it, we ſhould have been forced to have ſupt on it with them. But hereupon, on goes the War againſt them. And how well this Holy War was like to ſucceed, you may gueſs by the beginning; for even thoſe rude and ignorant Souldiers, who were led againſt the Scots, to kill them into conformity, in our own Countrey (as they paſt along towards Scotland (in deſpight of their Commanders) broke into divers Churches, pull'd down and burnt the rails about the Communion Table, and tore the Surplices, and the Common-Prayer Books: Theſe things were notorious, & not done in a corner. It would be too much beyond my de ſign to men­tion all that followed: Plain it was, nothing proſpered after. And is this now ſuch a hainous offence to ſay ſo? Or was it not rather a matter to be acknowledged as a ſin, to be confeſt, and for which deeply to be humbled, and to repent of? I might have mentioned the cruel uſage of Dr. Layfield, who at the inſtigation of the Bi­ſhop, after a long impriſonment in the Fleet, was whipt from thence to Weſtminiſter, where raw (as he was) he ſtood upon the Pillory, his noſtrils ſlit, and burnt in the cheeks or forehead. But did I charge this evil, or any other, upon the King, as the cauſe either of his or our ſuffering? Nay, did I not diſclaim that bold preſum­ption, in the words even immediately foregoing, ſaying, Whe­ther's ſins were greater (ours, or our Princes) God the Judge beſt knows: For what am I, that I ſhould ſtep into his chair. This I concluded on, and I think none can deny it, If our ſins had not been univerſal, the judgement would not have been ſo general? And I do profeſs, I dare not judge the Kings ſins to be greater then the peoples, becauſe he drank deeper in the judgement: But if I had charged the ſin of the King upon himſelf, or his Father, why ſhould theſe men pretend to be ſo angry? it would not have been to reproach him, or triumph over him, but to have been humbled with him, and for him (as well as for our ſelves) for our pardon, re­formation and amendment: So that I hope this is not to ſpeak againſt the King, or his coming in.

And I ſuppoſe, they will not ſhew themſelves (my Reproachers,19 I mean) ſo ignorant or ſottiſh as to ſay, That I ſpake againſt the King (or his coming in) by telling them, that their Wickedneſs might be a means to deſtroy both him and them: For which I quoted that place, 1 Sam. 12.19. and ſo on: Much leſs, did I ſpeak againſt the King, in adviſing them to be more careful to bring King Jeſus into their hearts, then King Charls to the Throne; and telling them, That they may be undone with him, yea, and by him, both temporally and eternally: But that King Jeſus will aſſuredly ſave them, if he rule over them. I hope you will not ſay this is a crime? if you do, the Lord make you wiſer. And this I think is all you have to charge me with in this matter; and how wiſely, juſtly, cha­ritably, Chriſtianly, let all wiſe men judge. Confident I am, what I delivered, might have been ſpoken even in the Kings preſence, and he would not have been offended: What would theſe captious hearers have ſaid, had I uſed ſuch plain language as was ſpo­ken unto him at his Coronation, in the Coronation Sermon? Coronation Sermō preacht at Scoon, Ian. 1651. by Mr. Rob. Douglas. Printed at A­berdeen, 1660.That his Father ſet himſelf in a hoſtile way, to overthrow Religion, Parliaments, Laws, and Liberties; and in page 27. of the ſame Sermon, they charge his Grandfather King James with foul defecti­on; and that he pereſecuted faithful Miniſters, and that he laid the foundation whereupon his Son (our late King (ſays he) did build much miſchief to Religion, all the days of his life. And he tells him, that the guiltineſs of the tranſgreſſion lies upon the Throne and Family; and that is one of the ſins for which he had profeſſed humiliation very lately, and adviſes him to take warning. And in his Exhortation to the King, page 32. he tells him, There is too much iniquity upon the Throne by his Predeceſſors, who framed miſchief by a Law: ſuch Laws as have been deſtructive to Re­ligion, grievous to Gods people. and page 36. he may ſay it freely, That chief cauſe of the judgement upon the Kings Houſe, hath been his Grandfathers breach of Covenant with God; and his Fathers following his ſteps, in oppoſing the work of God, and his Kirk, within theſe Kingdoms. He ſays, They have broken the Covenant with God, and men have broken Covenant with them. Moſt cruelly and perfi­diouſly (ſays he) they have invaded the Royal Family, and trod­den upon all Princely Dignity: And therefore charges him in Chriſts name, not to break Covenant; if he do, he aſſures him, The Controverſie is not ended between God and his Family, but it will be carried on to further weakning if not to the utter overthrow of it. Here's plain dealing, now what would our men have ſaid to this20 matter? Surely never a villain in England would have preached ſuch a Sermon: and yet ſuch fooliſh ſots have we in England, to ſay ſo of a Sermon that hath none of all this (nor any thing like) in it.

But now Sirs, to convince you of your perverſeneſs, and to let you ſee, how like you are to thoſe noxious creatures (the Flies) that flie-blow wholſome meat, ſo are you. It is uſuall with them, if there be any bruiſed place, they are ſure to light upon that firſt, and there to ſucke and feed themſelves: But if there be none, they flie-blow ſo long, till they have made it fit for their purpoſe: So do you flie-blow diſcourſes. For whereas you charge me to be a­gainſt the King, and his coming in, did I not ſay, It was a judge­ment that we were removed from our ancient foundations? And what could I mean, or did I mean? But the changing our government. And did I not quote that place, Iſay 3. to the end of verſ. 8. as a dreadfull judgement moſt ſadly fallen upon us? And did I not af­terwards ſay; That as we had been under that curſe and judgement, ſo we might ſee that bleſſed morning promiſed to Gods people, in the ſame Prophet, Chap. 1. ver. 25, 26, 27. Do but read the pla­ces, and let any man ſay what could be thence intended? And did I not pray for the haſtning of that happy morning? And when I quoted that place in 1 Sam. 12.19. to the end, did I not in expreſs words ſay, That that place in all things did not run parallel with our condition? But that in ſomething it was pertinent to my pur­poſe; which was in the later part onely, in that the peoples wicked­neſs would deſtroy themſelves, the King, and Kingdome? And did I not in plain words ſay, That that portion of Scripture held not pa­rallell in that very particular, in that it was ſaid they ſin'd in deſi­ring a King? with more to that purpoſe, as you may ſee in the Sermon. And did I not ſay, That if it were the late Kings own ſins, (which I did not, nor dare I determine) that brought that judgment upon him, it was not juſt in them who did it. And when I adviſed you to be more careful to bring King Jeſus into your hearts; then King Charles into the Throne, did I not expreſly, and in theſe ſig­nificant words ſay; That the one was not oppoſite, contradictory, or deſtructive to the other? But onely that King Jeſus was to be pre­fer'd before him? And that if he (King Charles) be minded to rule for him, and under him; did I not ſay, If God and the great Council ſee it fit, let him come and welcome? Well, the Lord forgive you, and make you wiſer, and more diſcreet and boneſt. And I cannot21 paſſe by, but muſt reprove you for one moſt abominable lie of ſome of you; That I ſhould pray in my Prayer, That as the Lord had de­livered us from one Devill, ſo he would deliver us from another; and that hereby I did mean the King. Good Lord! what a lying malicious Devill hath poſſeſt theſe people. No, theſe and ſuch like prophane and ungodly wretches in an humane ſhape are the Devils I prayed againſt. I prayd, That as the Lord had graciouſly in a good meaſure delivered us from the devil of Herſie and blaſphemie, ſo that he would alſo keep us and deliver us from the Devil of prophaneneſſe: And the God to whom I prayed knows, that theſe ungodly wretches are all the Devils I prayed againſt, and no other; not having any thought, apprehenſion, or imagination of the King in this particular. And ſo much to my firſt charge.

2 Now for my ſecond, in which I ſhall be brief. My Sermon, ſay ſome, drove all at this, The bringing in of the King would bring in all prophaneſſe; But did I any where ſay ſo? Truly I needed not, Prophaneſſe is in already in the Nation; nor did I thinke the King would bring it in, and I hope he never will. But this I think, all the ungodly and prophane people in the Nation have a very great and ſtrong deſire of the Kings coming in, as hoping to have as much liberty to be prophane, and to exerciſe it, as they had before. Oh! how hath the Parliament Acts and Ordinances hampered and chained, and fettered theſe beaſts; They cannot ſwear, or be drunk but they muſt pay for't. Taverns, Innes, and Ale-houſe muſt be ſhut on the Lords day, all day long, that they cannot tipple, & be drunk. They muſt not walke in the ſtreets nor in the fields on that day under a penalty, and many of them have been ſued and indicted for it, and the like. And oh! How like wilde Buls in a net, have they fretted, and vext, and raved at it? Oh! that bleſſed book (think they) that moſt excellent book for ſports on the Sabboth; That was a good, a bleſſed, a merry time with us. Theſe people are like thoſe, Jer. 44.16,17,18. As for the word that thou haſt ſpoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: But we will certainly do whatſoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incenſe unto the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our Kings and our princes in the Cities of Iudah, and ſtreets of Ieruſalem: For then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and ſaw no evill. But ſince we left off to burn incenſe to the queen of heaven, &c. we have wanted all things, and have been conſumed by the ſword, and by the famine. 22Well ſirs, think as you will; For my part I thinke that accurſed book was none of the leaſt provocations that drew down the judge­ments of God upon the Nation. And yet how glad would many be of this licentious liberty re-introduced: And oh! for ſome good Court Biſhops to help us in this particular againſt the Round-heads, and theſe puritanical Presbyterians.

Beloved Reader, I charge this upon the Court Biſhops onely; For confident I am, there were many good and godly Biſhops in the Nation who abhorred that execrable thing, and yet this is the thing theſe miſerable wretches look for. And here let me not be miſtaken, or miſ-reported, as if I thought that none but prophane and god­leſſe perſons look and long for the Kings coming. No, far be it from my ſoul; For I am aſſured there are many godly and honeſt hearts, ſober and diſcreet perſons who earneſtly deſire it, and would be glad to ſee it, But as for prophane and ungodly perſons, (drunkards ſwearers, whoremongers, Sabboth-breakers, deſpiſers of Religion and godlineſſe in the power of it) upon what good account can they de­ſire him, I leave it to any reaſonable man to judge. Do they deſire it either for the Kings good, or their own good, certainly no? But they are ſure, if one party (whom they how hate) ſhould pre­vail, they ſhall ſtill walke in their chains and fetters; but from an­other they hope (at leaſt) for freedome. And ſhould they be ham­pered and reſtrained by that other, they would hate both alike. For 'tis not this perſon or that perſon, this party or that, which is the quarrel or offence. But the old enmity of oppoſition and hatred between the two ſeeds of godly and ungodly. And if the King be, as by ſome he is reported, (which God grant) godly, and ſhall ſhew it by his curbing their wickedneſſe, they will not like him long, but would be weary of him. And clearly the obſervati­on and information of their prophaneſſe the laſt Faſt day, is to me (yea, and to any conſidering perſon) a ſufficient argument of their ungodlineſſe: and theſe onely are the men I ſpoke of, and deſired to conſider the vanity of their expectations. That (if it had been the will of God) I might have been inſtrumental to undeceive but ſome one of them, and ſee how they requite me for my labour! But I ſhall not loſe it.

And truly, although theſe be the perſons I chiefly aym at (as moſt worthy of reprehenſion: Yet ſince I am now diſcharging my conſcience in this way (of writing) which I think not to do again. I would beg leave to adviſe ſome of our more civill and moderate op­ponents23 in one particular. 'Tis too eaſie and familiar with many of you (upon the leaſt provocation, ſometimes without it) to return upon us, with the word Presbyterian by way of reproach as a Nick­name, and to inveigh againſt Presbytery: But Sirs, do you under­ſtand what you do? It's true, the Biſhops have a long time kept the name (and thing) in a kind of ſilence under hatches. But will you (without paſſion and partiality, and as in the preſence of God (for ſo I deſire to deale with you) be informed in the truth? Then I muſt tell you this one thing, the Scripture ſpeaks more of, and for Presbyters then Biſhops Not that I bring this as an argument to prove Presbytery to be more ſacred then Epiſcopacy; For I thinke them both ſo alike, and I intend not to handle that controverſie. My deſigne is, to let you know (if the Scripture may rule you) you may as well ſpeak ſcornfully of Biſhops as Presbyters; and of Epiſ­copacy, as of Presbytery; For I tell you again, the Scripture makes oftner mention of Presbyters then Biſhops. Now for your informa­tion, and to clear this to you, you muſt know, that the word preſ­byter (though we by uſe make it Engliſh) is a Greek word, which we in our Engliſh Bibles have always tranſlated by the word Elder. It comes from〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Senex, one that's old. And〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is Se­nior, one that's Elder. And this word is uſed in Scripture ſometimes in a naturall ſenſe, to ſignifie one elder in age: and ſometimes in an eccleſiaſtical ſenſe, for an Officer in the Church of Chriſt. Now it was my purpoſe to have examined all the places in the Greek Teſtament where the word Presbyter is uſed, and to have obſerved how ma­ny times it was uſed in an eccleſiastical ſence, ſignifying a Church-Officer: But the day before the writing hereof, there came very happily to my hand a Book lately publiſhed by one, whoſe other workes praiſe him in the gate, and this not a little, ſcil. Mr. George Lawſon, Politica Sacra, which ſaves me ſome labour, which I am willing to embrace at this time for haſt-ſake, eſpecially from ſuch an Author. And he tells me page 139. of that Book, that he finds the word Presbyter in an eccleſiastical ſence and notion about ſix­teen times in the New Teſtament. And now as for the word〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which is ſometimes tranſlated an Overſeer (as Acts 20.28. ) and ſometimes a Biſhop, I could quickly number them, for 'tis but five times uſed: and one of them is ſpoken not of an ordinary Church-officer, but of our Lord Chriſt Jeſus, 1 Pet. 2.25.

So that I ſay the Scripture makes more uſe, and more often men­tion of the word Presbyter then Biſhop, and therefore not ſo to be24 ſlighted and reproached, or to be uſed as a terme of diſgrace to any man, unleſſe you have a mind to diſgrace the Scripture which thus honours Presbyters and Presbyterians above Biſhoips. Yea, but Bi­ſhops are above them; How know you that? They were ſo, and ſo have a long time; that's true. But did the Scripture put them there? Good ſirs let no man be angry with me, if I expreſs my mind freely. I mean not to make a quarrel of it, nor contend with any man about it, for I have better work to do; then nodum in ſcirpo quaerere. But where doth the Scripture put a Biſhop above a Presbyter? Let any man in the world ſhew me the place, Shall I ask you one thing? According to the uſuall apprehenſion, and among us in England, what was the office and buſineſſe of a Biſhop? And what is the office and buſineſs of a Preſbyter? You'l ſay, the office of a Biſhop was to rule and govern, for ſo they did. And the office of a Preſbyter or El­der is to teach and feed the Flock. But now, doth the Scripture thus diſtinguiſh and put a difference? No, but if there be any to be found there, 'tis on the other ſide the leaf, That puts the honour of ruling upon the Preſbyters (the Elders) and the buſineſſe of tea­ching and feeding upon the Overſeers, the Biſhops. 1 Tim. 5.17. The Elders (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Presbyters) that rule well are worthy of double honour. And the Apoſtle in Acts 20. puts the buſineſſe of feeding (one part whereof is teaching) upon Biſhops. For verſ. 28. Take heed (ſayes he) unto your ſelves, and to all the flocke over which the holy Ghoſt hath made you (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) Biſhops (ſo in the Greek) to feed the Church of God. See here, you are made Biſhops to feed. El­ders to rule, and Biſhops to feed. So that by this it ſeems in the Apo­ſtles times the Biſhop was not the better man. But beloved, are you willing to know the truth? and wil you not kick againſt it, when 'tis laid plainly before you? Why then know, that then (in the A­poſtles time) Preſbyter and Biſhop were all one. And that (as the before-commended Mr. Lawſon hath it) whatſoever ſome of late have ſaid to the contrary, Presbyter and Biſhop were onely two different words, ſignifying the ſame Officer. And for evidence undenyable, do but read the 17. verſe of that Chapter (Acts 20.) and there you ſhall finde who thoſe perſons are whom he calls Biſhops or Over­ſeers, even the Preſbyters (the Elders) of the Church of Epheſus, put both together, and it runs clearly thus. St. Paul ſaid to the preſ­byters (or Elders) of the Church of Epheſus, Feed the flocke of God, over which the holy Ghoſt hath made you Biſhops. I wonder why our laſt Tranſlators of the Bible did not render it (Biſhop) here, but25 [Overſeer] which they have not done in any other place where this word is uſed. But I know the myſterie, and I could give you ſome account, as I have been credibly informed.

But to be ſhort, compare 1 Tim. 3.1,2,3, &c. with Titus 1.5,6,7, &c. and you ſhall finde the qualifications of a Biſhop, and of an Elder (or Presbyter) to be the ſame. And in that place to Titus, if you compare in 5. verſe and the 7th. you ſhall finde the Apoſtle uſing Elder and Biſhop as ſynonimous, ſignifying the ſame. This is plain, the Apoſtles themſelves were not the onely Biſhops even in the Apoſtles times.

And to cloſe all in this particular, let that place 1 Pet. 5. begin­ning be conſidered, where St. Peter writing to the ſeverall Chur­ches (as appears Chap. 1.1. ) in that 5th. Chap. he exhorts the Preſ­byters (or Eldrs) to a faithfull diſcharge of their duty (which is a diligent feeding their Flock, without lording it over them) much leſſe over their fellow Elders, verſ. 2, 3. of which he profeſſes him­ſelfe to be one in verſ. 1. The Elders (or Presbyters,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) which are among you, I exhort, who am (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉alſo a Preſ­byter (or Elder) a fellow-Presbyter, or a Presbyter together with you Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the overſight thereof, ſo we read it; but in the Greek it is〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, playing the Biſhops, or doing the work or buſineſſe of Biſhops. So that then, Biſhop and Presbyter, both name and thing, Title and employment was all one, without any domination according to the rule and Canon of their Lord and Maſter, Mar. 10.42. where a requeſt having been made in the behalf of ſome of his Diſciples for domination, he calls them to him, and ſayes, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over Gentiles (or Heathens) exerciſe Lordſhip over them, and their great ones exerciſe authority upon them: But ſo it ſhall not be among you, &c.

Much more might be ſaid, and is ſaid by others in this matter. And if any deſire further information & ſatisfaction herein, let them (without prejudice) read Mr. Baxters five Diſputations of Church-government and worſhip, and there they ſhall finde theſe things plain­ly and truly ſtated and diſcuſſed.

What then (will ſome ſay) you would have all leveld and equal. And you would have every Miniſter (every Presbyter) a Pope, to domineer and Lord it in his own Pariſh? Friends, be not too haſty, I do not ſay ſo, nor would I have it ſo. I would not have all equall, all are not fit for every thing. I am not of their opinion who ſay, all26 things requiſite to government and diſcipline in the Church are fully contained (I mean punctually and particularly) in Scripture. Nor do thoſe who ſay ſo, make it good in their practice, nor can they. And I ſay further; That opinion hath been the mother and nurſe of much ſchiſme and faction, I grant that much here muſt be left to prudence, and that not of ſingle or particular Paſtors, Preſbyters, or Biſhops; but to the conſideration and determination of the moſt godly, learned, grave, and able in the Nation, to which I would have all to conform. If any like it not, they are at their liberty. Ʋnity and order is more precious, then to be deſtroyed for the ſatiſ­faction of ſuch as will never be ſatisfied, as not well knowing their owne mindes. And as for Lordly dominion, and Poping it in our Pariſhes, I do profeſſe I do abhor it under every form. I as much adhominate a lording Presbyter, as a lording Biſhop; no name, ti­tle, or pretext whatſoever gives us any ſuch authority: And I would begge (as I do deſire) that we might be kept to that which ſhall appear to be our proper buſineſſe; which if thoſe of our pro­feſſion had been, England had not been in ſo ſad a condition as it is this day. I like not the Scotch Stool of Repentance, nor would I have excommunicate perſons driven into the Church again by the ſecular power: As by Writs de excommunicato capiendo, or the like. It may force men to an hypocritical acknowledgment of ſome kinde of penitence, but it cannot produce true repentance. I would have Church-cenſures, reach no further, nor cut any deep­er then their ſpiritual ſword will penetrate. I approve not rigid compulſions by the arme of fleſh, in ſuch things which are the onely work of the ſpirit; as is true and unfeigned repentance. Of which, if people by conſtraint make a feigned profeſſion, it doth but harden them in their ſin, and make them impudent; which (as I have been credibly informed) is too manifeſt in ſome places of the world, not­withſtanding the ſtrictneſſe of their diſcipline. I would have Church affairs (in this reſpect) ſo managed, as if the Civil Magiſtrate were no friend to Religion, farther then that thoſe who profeſſe it, and live peaceably, may be protected by him from outward violence.

No, let the beauty, excellency, benefit and neceſſity of the com­munion of the Church, with the priviledges thereof be clearly layd open to the people. Let the hazard, danger, and miſchief of juſt excommunication be declared and urged upon them. And let all Chriſtians with draw all countenance and unneceſſary leſſowſhip and ſociety from them, according to the Scriptures. And if the27 ſenſe, ſhame, and grief thereof (with other ſuch conſiderations, (ſet on by the ſpirit of God) will not humble them: Let them alone till the Lord cometh.

But then, I would not have thoſe who are by juſt excommuni­cation caſt out of one Church or Congregation, received in into another, for this were the way to make Conventicles of Hereticks, Schiſmaticks, blaſphemers, and all manner of prophane and ungod­ly ones: And in this I conceive the Civill Magiſtrate is much con­cern'd (eſpecially being a Chriſtian) For 'tis found too true by ſad experience, that factions in the Church beget fractions in the State. And therefore my ſoul longs for ſuch a happy day, wherein by the favourable aſpect of Chriſtian Magiſtrates, all wayes of faction, ſe­paration and diviſion may be fore-cluded: And if men be otherwiſe minded, let them ſit ſtill and be quiet. Or if they will be doing, it were good if they would go and gather Churches among the hea­then, and not intrude themſelves into other mens labours.

This which I have now declared, was and is onely to allay the heat of thoſe mens ſtomacks, who (being altogether ignorant of what the Scripture hath and ſaith in the behalf of Preſbyters and Presbyteri­ans) do ſo ſlight and vilifie them, as to make the name and thing a reproach unto them. You may as well call a man prick-eard Chri­ſtian, as prick-ear'd Presbyterian: And I have done this to give you timely warning, and to prevent your prophaneſſe. If you will not leave it, know, however you ſcorn them, the Scripture honours them; and take heed of kicking againſt the pricks: Your prophaneſſe is that I complain of, and if you will go on, Dominus venit.

And now I have one thing more to ſpeak to, and then manum de tabula; and it is to fore-warn (or rather after-warn you (for it hath been too long practiſed) of another evill: and that is, reproaching zealous, home and plain, down-right preaching, with the odious names of paſſion, anger, and railing. And let me tell you, this is no other then Sathans ſubtlety to render our preaching unto you unpro­fitable, and ineffectual. We confeſs we are men ſubject to paſſion (yea and ſinfull paſſion) as others are. Iam. 5.17.Inſtances might be given from Scripture of the Lords moſt precious Saints and ſervants in this ſad particular. But what then? Is plain and home, and down-right preaching paſſion and railing? Take heed of that. Nay, is it not lawful ſometimes to be angry and in paſſion? Eph. 4.26. Be angry and ſin not. A man may be angry, and not ſin. Nay, 'tis a ſin not to be angry ſometimes. Is not the Lord himſelfe ſaid ſometimes to be28 angry? And can he ſin? It's true, St. Paul would not have a Biſhop (or Preſbyter) ſoon angry;Tit. 1.7. not ſuddenly, lightly, haſtily. But doth that infer he ſhould not be angry at all? Nay rather, doth it not infer the contrary? He may, he muſt be ſometimes angry? Would you be drunke, and ſwear, and curſe, and prophane Gods Sabboths, and hate and ſcorn ſtrict profeſſion of Religion, and openly declare your enmity, and ſhall not (muſt not) we be angry? Muſt we not re­prove you ſharply, cuttingly? So the word properly ſignifies (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) I'le tell you ſirs, That which you call anger, and paſſion, and railing, is in Scripture call'd zeale. Tit. 1.13.

I could be large in this particular: but there is ſo much in this kind done to my hand already by a worthy and reverend brother, and that in print, in a little book, called Elias Abatement, or Corruption in the Saints; Being a Sermon preached by Mr. Thomas Caſe at the Funerals of a godly Miniſter, (one Mr. Gualter Roſwel) I ſay this be­ing ſo excellently and fully done to my hand, I ſhall forbear the fur­ther proſecution from my own thoughts. Onely becauſe every one hath not that Book; and ſome may meet with this, who poſſibly may never meet with that: And for that prejudice againſt Miniſters upon this account, is ſo great a miſchief to them, eſpecially to their people (being as I ſaid) a device of Sathan to hinder the entertain­ment of their Doctrine) I ſhall take ſo much pains as to lay before you ſome of that which that Reverend Author hath to this purpoſe, and which he did in vindication of that deceaſed brother, who it ſeems was changed to be a man paſſionate and cholerick.

In the firſt place he confeſſes; he was a man in whom the black a­duſt humour of choler had predominance in his natural conſtitution, (and who can help that?) And he ſayes, that many times gave a tin­cture to his diſcourſe and actions; which ſtanders by, more cenſori­ous then candid, interpreted to his unjuſt prejudice. Then he gives him a high commendation for his eminent gifts, parts, and abilities, comparing him (in his meaſure) to Elias, and John the Baptiſt, in many things. Amongſt others he ſays his Miniſtery was a thundring Miniſtery: and I would to God (ſayes he) we had more of them, there is need of them. And becauſe tis ſo good and pertinent, take more. Thunder (ſays he) purgeth the air: And if ſo, we have need of more ſuch ſons of Thunder amongſt us, and not ſuch as will ſing Placentia unto people: Sow pillows under their elbows, and ſing men to Hell with ſweet Lullabies of peace, peace, when there is no peace. Our air is peſtilentiouſly infectious in the ſenſe of our ſpiri­tuall29 Phyſitians, and our Climate is mortally infected with the peſts of hereſies and blaſphemies, and with the putrid ſtench of all manner of poyſonous luſts, which is the fatall ſource of all our plagues both in Church and State: and this our precious brother (ſaith he) was deeply ſenſible of: And hence it was that his ſpirit was warmed with­in him to a more then ordinary degree of zeal in his Miniſtery.

And he ſays his courage was rival with his zeal, he feared not the face of any man, but would boldly reprove (as Elias) even the high­eſt. In all the Changes that went over his head, in all the Contro­verſies of the times, wherein he exerciſed his Miniſtry, he was a moſt ſtrenuous aſſertor of the Truth, and a moſt couragious oppoſer of errour and innoviation: and that even, while ſome higher then others by head and ſhoulders (in their own eyes) did baſely and unworthily betray their cauſe, he feared not the face of man, in the cauſe of Je­ſus Chriſt: He durſt tell the greateſt perſon he had to do with of their faults, upon juſt occaſion in the worſt of Times. He was a hammer to beat down error and blaſphemy, where-ever it met him. He could not bear with them that preacht down Paedobaptiſme, the Chriſtian Sabboth, Univerſities, Schools of Learning, Ordination, and other ordinances and inſtitutions of Jeſus Chriſt;2 Tim. 4.3. as it was pro­pheſied, that ſome would not endure ſound Doctrine, ſo he would not endure unſound Doctrine. He ſayes, he could not bear with ſe­ducers, nor they with him, ſo that by this means he became a man of contention. And yet he commends him for a man of a tender ſpirit, mortified to the world, free and liberall, much in faſting and prayer.

And yet he ſayes, he had his ſhare in the perſecution of the Times wherein he lived, from his very firſt entrance upon his Miniſtery, according to the propheſie of our Saviour, Mat. 5.11,12. And tru­ly ſays he, It had been