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A SERMON PREACHED AT THE PVBLIQVE FAST the ninth of Feb. in St MARIES OXFORD, BEFORE The Great Aſſembly of the Members OF THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF COMMONS There Aſſembled: And publiſhed by their ſpeciall Command.

Luk. 19.41, 42.

And when he was come neere, he beheld the City, and wept o­ver it.

Saying, if thou hadſt knowne, even thou, at leaſt in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.

OXFORD, Printed by LEONARD LICHFIELD, Printer to the Vniverſity. 1643.

Die Sabbati decimo Februarii. 1643.

ORdered that Mr Moſtyn, and Mr Tompkins, give the Biſhop of Downe thankes for his Sermon, and, deſire him it may be printed by a Printer at his own appoyntment, (unleſſe for Expedition he pleaſe to imploy the Printer to the Vni­verſity.)

Noah Bridges.
1

IEREM. 5.9. Shall I not viſit for theſe things, ſaith the Lord, and ſhall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this?

AT the firſt hearing of theſe words read, you wil conceive that I am come with an angry meſſage in my mouth; yet are you bound to heare it, becauſe it is from the Lord, Dictum Iehovae: even a fearfull threatning from God himſelf againſt his people Iſrael, which is repeated no leſſe then thrice in this book, here in the ninth verſe of this Chap. againe v. 29. and after Chap. 9.9. Now (ſaith S. Ierome) verba to­ties inculcata, vera ſunt, viva ſunt, ſana ſunt, plana ſunt: Words ſo often inculcated are true and lively, ſound and plain. The Truth of this threatning appeareth by the fear­full execution of the judgement threatned upon the Iews, who became a ſpectacle of Gods vengeance unto all Ge­nerations. This doth ſomething concerne us; for the A­poſtle ſaith, Rom. 15.4. Whatſoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning. And again, he telleth us, 1. Corin. 10.6. that the puniſhments of the Iewes are our examples, to the intent that we ſhould not luſt after evill things, as they alſo luſted. If therefore it appear that2 we have ſinned in like manner as they did, that our caſe is like unto theirs, I ſhall have a good warrant to take up this Dictum Jehovae, to come with this threatning in my mouth, ſhall I not viſit for theſe things, ſaith the Lord, and ſhall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this?

In which words two things are expreſſed; Firſt, the Prophets commiſſion, or the authority by which he ſpake, in theſe words, Dicit Dominus, ſaith the Lord. Secondly, The meſſage which he brings, which is a fearfull threatn­ing againſt his people Iſrael, ſhall I not viſit for theſe things, and ſhall not my ſoul be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this?

The Prophets commiſſion is not from man, nor by man, but from the Lord, for dicit Dominus, the Lord ſaith it. It is ordinary with all the Prophets, to alledge the authority by which they ſpeak, and to bring forth their commiſſion, thereby to draw the attention of their hea­rers, and to procure faith and obedience to their words, as being the words of God himſelfe. And this they have done in many and diverſe phraſes, ſuch as are theſe eſpe­cially, the word of the Lord came unto me, the Lord ſaid un­to me; the Lord ſpake by me; I ſaw the viſions of God; the ſpirit of God came upon me; and this here in my text, dicit Dominus, wherewith every particular Prophecie is ſealed, to ſhew the dignity of the Prophecie, and the truth of the Prophet, that he ſpeakes not the viſion of his own heart, (as it is ſaid of the falſe Prophets, Ier. 23.16. ) but that he doth propheſy from the mouth of God himſelfe. Our Prophet in the beginning of this book brought forth his commiſſion, ſhewing that the word of the Lord came un­to him in the daies of Ioſiah, and yet afterwards as oft as he beginneth a new matter, and particularly here where3 he threatneth Iudgement, to ſhow that there is nothing his own; he doth it in the ſtile of the Court of heaven, with a Dicit Dominus, ſaith the Lord.

Now if it be the Lord that ſaith it, if this meſſage be from God, then it is our duty to heare it; for when God ſpeakes, all men are bound to heare: He that made the care, ſhall he not be heard? Ye, it is our duty not only to heare it, but alſo to heare it aright, not as it is the word of man, but as it is indeed the word of God: we muſt receive it as Gods meſſage, that is, with reverence, and attention, with feare and trembling, with wiſedome and diſcretion, and eſpecially with faith and obedience, elſe all our labour is in vaine: for this is the Propter quod, the end of hearing: therefore God ſends his word unto us, that we may obey, and obey we cannot, unleſſe we beleeve the word which we heare; for faith is the mother of obedience, as Saint Paul hath taught us in that excellent gradation, How ſhall they call on him in whom they have not beleeved. Rom. 10 14. Calling on God is the firſt act of obedience, and this cannot be done without faith. And ſo we ſee the true reaſon why men do not profit by the word that commeth unto them from the Lord, even becauſe they doe not be­leeve it. The Goſpel was preached to the Iewes who pe­riſhed, as well as unto others, but, ſaith the Apoſtle, It did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it, Heb. 4.2. Turne over all the volumes of the Pro­phets, and you ſhal find that this was the immediate cauſe of the deſtruction of the Iewes, even their not beleeving and obeying the words of the Prophets. They made a mock at Gods threatnings; for as it followeth a little after my Text, verſ. 12. They ſaid, It is not he, neither ſhall evil come upon us, neither ſhall we ſee ſword nor famine. And the4 Prophets ſhall become wind, and the word is not in them. And this their incredulity brought forth diſobedience: for how often doth the Lord complaine, When I called none did an­ſwer, Eſa. 65.12. and 66.4. and as it is in Chap. 35. verſ. 15. of this Prophecie, I have ſent vnto you all my ſervants the Prophets, riſing up early, and ſaying, returne ye now every man from his evill way, and amend your doings: But ye have not inclined your eare, nor hearkned vnto me. And therefore if we would profit by the word that commeth from the Lord, we muſt give credit to the meſſage, beleeve all Gods threatnings, that ſo we may apprehend the dan­ger, and labour to prevent it by repentance, as did the re­penting Iſraelites, Hoſ. 6.1. when they heard Gods judge­ments threatned, they called one another, ſaying, Come let us returne vnto the Lord, for he hath wounded, and he will heale us. As yet the judgement was only threatned, it was not inflicted, and yet they cry out, He hath wounded, he hath torne us, as though they had even then felt the ſtrokes which after came upon the wicked: for why, they knew that God is true, and that none of his threatings could fall unto the ground; therefore they were ſenſible of their danger, and did ſue unto God for deliverance. So did Noah, for the Apoſtle ſaith, Heb. 11.7. By faith Noah being warned of God of things not ſeen as yet, moved with feare, prepared an arke to the ſaving of his houſe. Where obſerve three degrees of Noahs obedience.

  • 1. His faith, he belee­ved Gods threatning, though it was of things as yet not ſeene, for he received Gods warning by Faith.
  • 2. His feare, he was moved with feare.
  • 3. His wiſe dome and care, he prepared an Arke to the ſaving of his houſe.

In like man­ner ſhould we receive Gods warning by faith, beleeving his threatnings, that ſo we may feare and tremble at his5 judgements, and being moved with feare, we may pro­vide for our own ſafety as he did. This is the part of eve­ry wiſe man; for ſaith Solomon, Prov. 22.3. A prudent man foreſeeth the evill, and hideth himſelfe. That is, he know­eth that the judgement threatned will come upon the land, and he provideth by all Lawfull means for his ſafe­ty, eſpecially he maketh his Peace with God, and hideth himſelfe under the wings of his protection, that ſo he may be able to ſtand in the evill day.

And thus having briefly prepar'd you to receive the meſ­ſage, I come to ſhew you what it is. It is a very angry one, like Samuels meſſage: for unleſſe we have carouſed the cup of ſlumber unto the very dreggs, this will make both our eares to tingle, 1. Sam. 3.11. and our heart ſtrings to tremble. It is a fearfull threatning againſt his people, ex­preſſed by way of interrogation, yea of a double interro­gation, and this interrogation hath the force of a moſt powerfull affirmation. Shall I not viſit for theſe things, and ſhall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this? That is, I ſhall viſit for theſe things, my ſoule ſhall be a­venged on ſuch a Nation as this. Wherein he appeales, as it were, unto themſelves, to declare whether he can doe any leſſe, then puniſh theſe ſins. As the Iudge calls unto the guilty Priſoner at the Barre, to ſpeake, and to ſhew cauſe, if he can, why the ſentence of death ſhould not be pronounced: ſo God is brought in here dealing with his people. He hath in the words going before, by this Pro­phet, accuſed them of many grievous ſins, of Rebellion, hypocriſy, ſecurity, contempt of his judgements, neglect of his word, abuſe of his ſervants, diſobedience to his call, impudencie in ſin, idolatry, adultery; and having found them guilty of all theſe, he calls them to ſhew cauſe6 why the law ſhould not be executed upon them. Shall I not viſit for theſe things, ſaith the Lord, and ſhall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this? As if he ſhould ſay, Now ſince there are ſuch abominations in Ieruſalem, ſince there is ſuch obſtinacy in this people, let all the world judge, and even your ſelves ſpeak, if it be not meet and juſt, that I who am the moſt juſt judge of the world, ſhould call you to an accompt, and Iudge you for theſe things. I puniſh the ſinnes of the Nations who know not my name, how much more ſhall I puniſh the ſins of this unthankfull Nation, to whom I gave the knowledge of my will, whom I choſe to be mine owne people, and whom I have bleſſed without meaſure with innumerable benefits; yet have they followed the ſins, for which other Nations were deſtroyed, and eſtranged themſelves from me: they have provoked my Majeſty by their Idolatry, wronged their Neighbour by fraud, oppreſſion, and all manner of unrighteouſneſſe; and by a perpetuall Rebelli­on they have reſiſted my will: therefore is my will wholy bent to revenge, I will viſit for theſe things, my ſoule ſhall be avenged.

From the words thus explained, I will draw ſeven con­cluſions.

  • 1. That puniſhments are a viſitation, ſo called in my Text.
  • 2. That all puniſhments are from God, Shall not I viſit.
  • 3. Sinne is the cauſe of all puniſhment, Shall not I viſit for theſe things.
  • 4. That great ſinnes procure not only a viſitation, but a vengeance, he will be Avenged.
  • 5. Such ſinnes procure a ſpeedy vengeance, ſuch as God in his will doth earneſtly affect, and in his work doth ſeri­ouſly effect; for his Soule is ſet upon revenge, that is, he hath a bent mind, a ready will, and an earneſt deſire to be avenged: Shall not my ſoule be avenged?
  • 6. That theſe7 grievous ſins bring Gods vengeance, not only upon par­ticular perſons, but alſo upon the whole Nation: Shall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation?
  • 7. That no Privi­ledges nor Prerogatives can ſecure a Nation from puniſh­ment; but if ſinne doe abound, God will be avenged on any Nation, even on this Nation of the Iews, who were his owne peculiar people, Shall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this? By theſe ſeven ſteps ſhall we climbe up unto the underſtanding of this Text.

1. Puniſhments are a viſitation, ſo called in my Text, Shall I not viſit? that is, ſhall I not puniſh? Indeed in many other places we find the word uſed in a better ſenſe, to ex­preſſe Gods kindneſſe and favours to his people. And if you would know how this word commeth to have two ſuch contrary ſignifications, as to expreſſe ſometimes his benefits, and ſometimes his judgements: we muſt look into the proper ſignification of the word. To viſit pro­perly is to enquire, or make a ſearch, to take a view of a thing, and exact an account, which may be both of good and bad. Therefore ſometimes the Hebrew word Pakad that ſignifieth to viſit, is by the latine interpreter rendred quaerere, to enquire, as Iob. 31.14. Cùm quaeſierit,〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉jiph kod. quid re­ſpondebo? When he ſhall viſit, what ſhall I anſwer? To this end doe Kings inſtitute viſitations by themſelves or by their Miniſters, even to enquire into the State of their Kingdome, for the puniſhment of evill doers,1. Pet. 2.14. and for the praiſe of them that doe well. So the Apoſtles viſited Chur­ches, that is, they did view throughly the State of the flock. Now becauſe when God commeth to viſit the Sonnes of men, he taketh notice both of the good and the bad, rewardeth the good, and puniſheth the bad: hence it is, that his viſitation expreſſeth ſometimes his mercies, and8 ſometimes his judgements. So that there is a twofold vi­ſitation from God, a viſitation in mercy, and a viſitation in juſtice. This threatned in my Text is a viſitation in juſtice, like that mentioned in the ſecond precept of the Law, He viſiteth the iniquities of the Fathers upon the Children. And Iſa. 26.14. Thou haſt viſited and deſtroyed them, and made all their memory to periſh. And in many other places Gods viſitation doth expreſſe his judgements. I conceive that the phraſe is borrowed from the proceedings of a Iudge againſt guilty perſons; in which proceedings there are two maine acts.

  • 1. An inquiry and diligent examina­tion, whether the party be guilty or not: this is properly to viſit.
  • 2. after he is found guilty, puniſhment is inflicted upon him. Such is the proceeding of every juſt Iudge, and after this manner doth God himſelfe proceed, and the ſe­cond act which is puniſhment, is called by the name of the firſt act, a viſitation or an enquiry, and that for two rea­ſons.
    • 1. To ſhew that God doth never puniſh but after an enquiry made, and examination of the fact: he is that Lord who in the Parable, Luk. 16.12. calls his Steward to an accompt: He called him and ſaid unto him, how is it that I heare this of thee; give an accompt of thy Stewardſhip. There is the viſitation or inquiry: and then followeth the pu­niſhment, for thou mayeſt be no longer Steward. That this is the order of Gods proceedings he ſheweth clearly, Gen. 18.2. Becauſe the cry of Sodome and Gomorrah is great, and becauſe their ſinne is very grievous: I will go downe now, and ſee whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come vnto me: and if not, I will know.
    • 2. To ſhew that if God come to viſit, that is to make a ſearch for ſinne, we cannot poſſibly eſcape puniſhment; for we are all guilty in his ſight, not able (as Iob ſaith) To anſwer him9 one of a thouſand: ſo that the beſt of us had need to pray with the holy Prophet, enter not into judgement with thy ſervant; for in thy ſight ſhall no man living be juſtified. Pſal. 143.2.

Now to make ſome uſe of this in a word, if puniſhments be a viſitation, then whenſoever we are under the croſſe, let us remember, it is God that viſiteth us, and then in like manner let us viſit God, viſit him by prayer; for to pray unto God is to viſit him, according unto that, Iſa. 26.16. Lord in trouble have they viſited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chaſtning was upon them. Viſit him by repentance; for as by ſinne we turne our backs upon God and depart from our heavenly Father; ſo by repentance we come home againe, and ſet our faces towards God, walking in the wayes of his Commandements. Finally, viſit him by faith, faith is the eye of the ſoule, by faith we look upon him whom we by our ſinnes have pierced, by faith wee who were far off are made neare, by faith we have bold­neſſe and acceſſe unto him.

The ſecond concluſion is, that all puniſhments are from God, Shall not I viſit? he ſaith not ſhall not the Aſſyrians viſit? but ſhall not I? for puniſhment is an act of Iuſtice, & ſo moſt proper to God, who is the Iudge of the world, as is expreſſed, Amos 3.6. Shall there be evill in a City, and the Lord hath not done it? Certainly whatſoever calami­ties doe befall us, they come not by chance or any blind fortune, or the malice of men or Divells; but by the deter­mined Councell and foreknowledge of God. If the peſti­lence come amongſt us & conſume us, it is the Lord that ſends it; or if famine come and pine us away, it is from the Lord; or if the ſword be unſheathed to kill and deſtroy, it is the ſword of the Lord. I will ſend (ſaith the Lord, Chap. 1025.9. ) and take all the families of the North, and Nebu­chadnezzar the King of Babylon my ſervant, and will bring them againſt this land and make them an aſtoniſhment, and an hiſsing, and perpetuall deſolation. It was God that delivered Iehojakim King of Iudah, into the hands of the King of Babel, Dan. 1.2. It was not Nebuchadnezzars do­ing, but the Lords. It is plain in the Hiſtory of Job, that the Divell for all his malice could not touch Iob, nor any thing that was his, untill firſt the Lord had ſaid un­to Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power, Job 1.12. Inſomuch that Job being ſpoiled of all his goods, cryed out, The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken. He ſaith not, the Sabaeans have taken away, but the Lord hath. So the repenting Iſraelites in all their extremities, cryed out, He hath wounded us, he hath torne us, Hoſ. 6.1. all the wounds which they felt, they acknowledge to come from God, and therefore they have recourſe unto him for remedy, knowing that Gods hand is like unto Achil­les his ſpeare, which onely can heale the wound that it hath made.

The conſideration hereof, ſhould teach us patience un­der the croſſe, even with all meekneſſe and humility to ſubmit our ſelves unto the hand of God. So did David, I was dumbe (ſaith he) and opened not my mouth, becauſe thou didſt it. When Shimei did curſe and revile him, he did not ſo much as look upon the inſtrument, but upon God whom he had offended, ſaying, Let him curſe, be­cauſe the Lord hath ſaid unto him, Curſe David. 2. Sam. 16.10. So ſhould we in all our ſufferings, not ſo much look unto the inſtruments, as unto God, from whom our afflictions doe come. Verily, there is not a greater let that hindereth men from profiting by their afflictions, then11 their blindneſſe, whereby they aſcribe all their calami­ties, to ſecondary cauſes and inferiour means, to fortune or chance, and never look up unto the hand of God that ſtriketh them; like a Dog that ſnatcheth the ſtone, and obſerveth not the hand that flung it. Such was the blind­neſſe of the Iſraelites, Hoſ. 5.13. when Ephraim ſaw his ſickneſſe, and Judah ſaw his wound: then went Ephraim to the Aſſyrian, and ſent to King Jareb; yet could he not heale you, nor cure you of your wonnd. And there be many ſuch, and ſome worſe, who in their troubles will not only goe unto Aſhur, but even to a Witch at Endor, as though there was not a God in Iſrael. Oh wretched people! doe they think it is the Divell that hurteth them, or that he can heale them? No, it is only God that woundeth us, and he only can heale us: He killeth and maketh alive,1 Sam. 2.6. bringeth down to the grave and raiſeth up. Therefore let us in all our extremities have recourſe unto him, ſaying with Iehoſa­phat, O Lord, we know not what to doe, but our eyes are unto thee. 2 Chron. 20.12.

As all puniſhments are from God, ſo the cauſe that pro­cureth them is alwayes in our ſelves: for ſinne is the cauſe of all puniſhment, as it followeth in the third place, ſhall I not viſit for theſe things? that is, for theſe ſinnes. Almighty God who is goodneſſe it ſelfe, and hateth no­thing of that which he hath made, doth never ſtrike with­out a cauſe, nor for every light cauſe either, as he hath expreſſed, Lam. 3.39. wherefore is the living man ſorrowfull, man ſuffereth for his ſinne: And a little before, verſ. 33. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. It is not willingly, but with much reluctation, as he expreſ­ſeth, Hoſ. 11.8. How ſhall I give thee up, Ephraim? how ſhall I deliver thee, Iſrael? how ſhall I make thee as Admah? how12 ſhall I ſet thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within mee, my repentings are kindled together. Therefore is the exe­cution of juſtice called Opus alienum, Iſa. 28.21. For the Lord ſhall riſe up as in mount Perazim, he ſhall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he might doe his worke, his ſtrange worke, and bring to paſſe his act, his ſtrange act. It is called a ſtrange work, becauſe he hath no delight in it, as he profeſſeth, Ezech. 18.32. I have no pleaſure in the death of him that dieth. God hath no pleaſure in death and in deſtruction, but is in a manner conſtrained by our finnes to inflict them: for ſin crieth unto the heaven for venge­ance, and ſuffereth not God to reſt till he have poured it out: ſin is ſo contrary to Gods nature, that he cannot but puniſh it, according to that, Pſal. 5. 5. The fooliſh ſhall not ſtand in thy ſight: for thou hateſt all workers of iniquity. He reaſons from the nature of God, after this manner; God hateth ſin, and therefore he will puniſh it. It is not with­out cauſe that the ſame word in the Hebrew doth ſignify both ſin and puniſhment; for theſe two are inſeparable, if impiety, there can be no impunity. It was Gods threat­ning unto Adam, in the day that thou eateſt of the forbidden fruit thou ſhalt dye the death, Gen. 2.17. This is the ſentence of the Law, Curſed is every one that abideth not in all things that are written in this book, Deut. 27.26. This is repeated by the Prophet, Ezech. 18.4. The ſoule that ſinneth, it ſhall dye: the ſame is confirmed by the Apoſtle in many places, Rom. 1.18. The wrath of God is revealed from hea­ven againſt all ungodlineſſe, and unrighteouſneſſe of men, Rom. 5.12. By ſinne death entred into the world: So that if it had not been for ſin, death could not have found a door to enter in at. But when by one man ſin entred into the world, death entred by ſinne, and paſſed upon all men, Rom. 6.23. 13The wages of ſin is death, Rom. 8.13. If ye live after the fleſh, ye ſhall dye. And S. Iames ſaith, chap. 1.15. Sin when it is finiſhed, bringeth forth death. He ſaith not of every ſin, that it bringeth forth death; but only of ſin when it is finiſhed, or come to a full height: for God in his mercy forgiveth ſins not finiſhed, or at leaſt he tolerateth them till they come to perfection, that the ſinner may be with­out all excuſe; but in his juſtice he judgeth and condem­neth ſinnes conſummate by frequent iteration, hardneſſe of heart, and impenitencie: as he ſhe weth, Amos 1.3. For three tranſgreſsions of Damaſcus, and for foure, I will not turne away the puniſhment thereof &c. as if he had ſaid, if Damaſcus had ſinned onely once, in perſecuting of my Church, I might have turned away my judgements: but they have ſinned often, to three tranſgreſſions, they have added foure, they have threſhed Gilead with threſhing in­ſtruments of iron. And for ſo many tranſgreſſions I will not turn away their puniſhment. Such a continued courſe in ſinne, doth not only deſerve death, which is common to all ſinnes; but it aſſuredly bringeth it forth, and moveth God to inflict it upon the ſinner. The word〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉there uſed by the Apoſtle ſignifieth to be delivered of that which hath been conceived: ſo that the Apoſtle will give us to underſtand ſo much, that ſin, when once it commeth to perfection, is with child of death, and muſt needs be de­livered.

If it be ſo that ſin bringeth puniſhment, and that there is no ſuffering but only for ſin: then whenſoever any evill is upon us, let us look back into our former courſes, exa­mine our by paſt lives, and ſee what we have done, to pro­voke Gods wrath and indignation againſt us: for certain it is, that all afflictions are from God, and as certain it is that14 all afflictions are from God, and as certain it is, that God never ſtrikes, but where he findes a cauſe in the party. Oh happy were we, if the ſenſe of our ſufferings might thus lead us into the ſight and ſenſe of our ſins, that ſo we might have recourſe unto the Phyſition of our ſoules. But alas! we all periſh for want of conſideration: for we goe on, walking raſhly, and mind not what we do, or in what caſe we ſtand to God-ward. No man repented (ſaith our Pro­phet, cap. 8.6. ) but why? No man ſaid, what have I done? Every one turned to his courſe, as a horſe ruſhethnto the battle. There can be no repentance, till firſt there be a loo­king back,I. am. 3.40. to ſee what we have done amiſſe; therefore let us ſearch and try our wayes, and turn again to the Lord. Firſt we muſt ſearch and try our wayes, to find out our own wandrings, before we can returne unto the Lord.

The fourth poynt followeth, that great ſinnes, ſuch as were among the Iewes, and doubtleſſe are amongſt us, do procure, not only a viſitation, but a Vengeance: which is an act of Gods wrath, and ſo a terrible puniſhment, in ſome ſort proportionable to the offence committed, which God inflicts upon men, not ſo much for their correction, as for the ſatisfying of his owne juſtice. Firſt I ſay, it is an act of Gods wrath, according to that, Micah. 5.15. I will execute vengeance in anger, and fury upon the Heathen. A­gain, I ſay that God inflicteth vengeance upon men, not ſo much for their correction, as for the ſatisfying of his own juſtice. For this difference Ariſtotle puts between puniſhment and revenge,Lib. 1. Rhetori. c. 10. that puniſhment is for their ſakes that ſuffer it; and revenge for his ſake that takes it. So long as our ſinnes are any way tolerable, God doth only pu­niſh, intending our amendment; but if our ſinnes become great and grievous, ſuch as cry unto the heaven, God will15 proceed to revenge; then he will not looke ſo much unto us, as unto himſelfe; for his honour is ingaged, and muſt be relieved, by executing vengeance upon the wicked. Gods Juſtice calls for revenge; for by ſinne God is wron­ged, and he muſt be righted, and get himſelfe honour up­on thoſe ſinners who have diſhonoured him. Thus being to execute judgement upon Pharaoh, he ſaith, I will get mee honour upon Pharaoh, Exodus 14.17. God got himſelfe ho­nour, by magnifying his Juſtice in the deſtruction of that Rebellious Tyrant. This is a thing ſo agreeable to the Di­vine nature, that thereby God is known to be God, ac­cording to that of the Pſalmiſt, God is known by executing of judgement. Hereby was he made knowen unto the Egyp­tians, as he ſaith, Exod. 7.5. And the Egyptians ſhall know that I am the Lord, when I ſtretch forth mine hand upon E­gypt. Yea vengeance is ſo proper unto God, that he doth challenge it as his owne peculiar, Deut. 32.35. Vengeance is mine, I will repay. Which place is twice quoted by the Apoſtle, once Rom. 12, 19. to diſwade us from private re­venge: and againe, Heb. 10 30. to deterre us from wilfull ſinning. Beſides he is ſtyled the Lord God of Vengeance twice, Pſ. 94.1. and the Lord God of Recompences, by our Prophet. cap. 51.56. and Nahum. 1.2. he is called a jealous, furious, and revenging God.

If God be an avenger; then let us remember what the Apoſtle ſaith, It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Heb. 10 31. His wrath is a conſuming fire, before which when it is kindled, the wicked ſhall be con­ſumed, as ſtubble before the fire: when God commeth to revenge, they ſhall cry unto the Mountaines to fall upon them, and cover them from the face of him that ſitteth on the Throne. We ſhall therefore doe well to adviſe with16 Our ſelves now, how we ſhall doe to beare that wrath; we ſhould now poſe our ſelves with that queſtion of the Pro­phet, who among us ſhall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us ſhall dwell with the everlaſting burnings? If Gods wrath be in ſupportable, then ſhould we labour in time to prevent it. And the only way to prevent it is, now to revenge upon our ſelves for the ſinnes we have commit­ted; for revenge is a part of Repentance, as is excellently expreſſed by the Apoſtle, 2 Corin 7.11. Behold, the ſelfe ſame thing that yee ſorrowed after a godly ſort, what careful­neſſe it wrought in you; yea, what clearing of your ſelves; yea, what indignation; yea, what feare; yea, what vehement deſire; yea, what zeale; yea, what revenge? But how ſhall we revenge upon our ſelves? even by mortifying our ſin­full luſts and corruptions, beating downe this body of ſin, afflicting our ſoules by faſting and abſtinence: we muſt not onely take from our fleſh all ſinfull pleaſures and de­lights; but alſo reſtraine our ſelves of the uſe of lawfull pleaſures, of meat and drinke: Et abſtine at à licitis, quia illicita concupivit. This is that worke where unto we are now called, and whereof this day we make a profeſſion. If we doe truly humble our ſelves and afflict our ſoules, we ſhall not be judged of the Lord: otherwiſe Gods ven­geance is neer at hand.

So it followeth in the fift place, That grievous ſins pro­cure a ſpeedy vengeance, ſuch as God in his will doth earneſtly affect, and in his worke doth readily effect: for his ſoule is ſet upon revenge, ſhall not my ſoule be avenged? God is not as man conſiſting of ſoule and body; yet the Scripture ſpeaking of God after the manner of man, aſ­cribes unto him not only bodily members, as eyes, eares, hands; but even a ſoule alſo. Gods Soule is here mentio­ned17 to expreſſe the earneſtneſſe of his deſire. As in other places when God is brought in, ſaying, My ſoule hateth this, my ſoule abhorreth that, it is to expreſſe a great and a vehement deteſtation: ſo here when God ſaith, my ſoule ſhall be avenged, he will expreſſe a vehement deſire. He will have his people to conceive that by their ſinnes they had grieved him (as we ſay) at the very heart, that is, offen­ded him exceedingly, and that he will eaſe his heart by ex­ecuting vengeance upon them, as he threatneth, Iſa. 1.24. Ah, I will eaſe me of mine adverſaries, I will avenge me of mine enemies.

Therefore let us take heed of grieving Gods ſoule: if his ſoule be grieved, his ſoule will be avenged. It is a dan­gerous thing to grieve men, eſpecially if they be power­full; how much more dangerous is it; to grieve the great God of heaven and earth, as is expreſſed, Iſa. 7.13. It is: ſmall thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God alſo? Remember therefore the Apoſtles admonition, Epheſ. 4.30. Grieve not the holy ſpirit of God, whereby you are ſealed. Or if we have grieved him by our ſinnes, the next beſt is, that we be grieved with our ſelves for all our abo­minations. That is the only way to keepe back Gods ven­geance both from our ſelves and from the Nation.

For that is the ſixt concluſion ariſing from this Text, Grievous ſins bring a vengeance, not only upon particu­lar perſons, but alſo upon the whole Nation: Shall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation? As God in Scripture ac­cuſeth particular perſons for ſinne, ſo he chargeth whole Nations, Kingdomes, and Cities. Iudah is a ſinfull Nation, a people laden with iniquity: Iſa. 1.4. Gilead is a City of them that worke iniquity, and is polluted with bloud. Hoſ. 6.8. and in the fourth Chapter of that Prophecy at the firſt verſe.18 the Lord takes up a complaint againſt the whole Land: The Lord hath a controverſie with the inhabitants of the Land, becauſe there is no truth nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the Land. &c. The Apoſtle Peter taxeth the age with corruption, Acts 2.40. Save your ſelves from this un­toward generation. And Saint Iohn ſaith, The whole World lyeth in wickedneſſe. 1. Joh. 5.19. And as the Nation is de­filed with ſinne, ſo we finde that Gods judgements are ge­nerall upon the whole Nation: when the Earth was filled with cruelty, and all fleſh corrupted his way, then God ſent the floud upon the old World: the whole Cities of Sodome were overthrowen: God ten plagues were upon the Land of Aegypt, ſo that from Pharaoh that ſate upon the Throne, unto the She pheards that followed the Ewes, there were none free from the annoyance of thoſe plagues: the ſeven Nations of the Canaanites were caſt out, when their iniqui­ties were full: Gods wrath was upon all the Camp of Iſrael in the wilderneſſe. In the Prophets you will often finde Judgements threatned againſt the whole Nation. Jſa, 1.7. Your Countrey is deſolate, your Cities are burnt with fire, your Land ſtrangers devoure in your preſence. Iſai. 60.12. The Nation and Kingdome that will not ſerve thee, ſhall pe­riſh. Hoſ. 4.3. Therefore ſhall the Land mourne, and every one that dwelleth therein ſhall languiſh, with the beaſts of the field, and with the foules of Heaven, yea the fiſhes of the Sea alſo ſhall be taken away. Hoſ. 13.16. Samaria ſhall become deſolate, for ſhe hath Rebelled againſt her God: they ſhall fall by the ſword: their Infants ſhall be daſhed in pieces, and their women with child ſhall be ript up. And as he threatned, ſo he executed his judgements upon the Nation: Firſt, the Kingdome of Samaria was ſo utterly deſtroyed, that it cea­ſed to be a Nation any more: a little after the Kingdome19 of Judah was carried away captive unto Babel, and albeit God was pleaſed to bring back againe their captivity, yet it was a very ſmall remnant, as ſaith the Prophet Iſai. 1.9. Except the Lord of Hoſts had left unto us a very ſmall remnant, wee ſhould have beene as Sodome, and wee ſhould have beene like unto Gomorrah. So God dealt with other Nati­ons, Zeph. 3.6. J have cut off the Nations: their Townes are deſolate, I made their Streets waſte, that none paſſeth by: their Cities are deſtroyed, ſo that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. Even Babylon the hammer of the Earth became heapes. Jerem. 51.37. An habitation of Owles, Satyres dan­cing, and Dragons crying within her palaces. Iſa. 13.21. So we know God will doe unto myſticall Babylon: when her ſins have reached unto Heaven, then will the Lord re­member her iniquities: ſhe ſhall be burnt with fire: yea, her deſtruction is ſo irrecoverable, that it is compared to a mill-ſtone caſt into the midſt of the Sea, which is not to be taken up againe. But to leave judgements to come, conſi­der what is become of the famous Kingdome in the Eaſt, where the Apoſtles themſelves planted Churches, and you will find that God hath removed their Candleſtick, or co­vered it under a buſhell; for they now groane under the ſlavery of the Turke. So true is that which Saint Iames ſaith, Sinne when it is finiſhed, bringeth forth death.

Here it will be expedient that I ſhew you briefly, what ſinnes theſe are that bring judgements upon the Nation, and what is the vengeance which God executeth upon a Nation. As to the firſt, it is not every ſinne that draweth judgements upon the Nation; but ſinne when it is finiſhed, or come to a full height: for there is a growth and per­fection in ſinnes both Perſonall and Nationall. Perſonall ſinnes are finiſhed, when men adde ſinne to ſin, acquire a20 habite of ſinne, draw upon themſelves a neceſſity of ſin­ing, harden their hearts, & continue in impenitency. There is a perfection alſo in Nationall ſins, and foure things con­curre to the finiſhing of ſinne in a Nation.

  • 1. Their num­ber and quality, if they be many and grievous.
  • 2. Their extent, if they be generall.
  • 3. Their freedome, if they goe unpuniſhed.
  • 4. Their continuance, if they be perſeve­red in without repentance.

If the ſins of a Nation come once to this full height, then are they ripe for Gods ſickle there will follow the death and deſtruction of that Nati­on. The vengeance which God executeth upon a Nation hath three degrees: the firſt I may call affliction, the 2d captivitiy, & the 3d utter deſtruction. For affliction, when 0198 God viſits a Kingdome with divers plagues, ſuch as are mentioned in the fourth of Amos, where he reckoneth up the ſeverall plagues which he had inflicted upon his peo­ple, as famine, or cleannes of teeth, ver. 6. drought or want of raine; ver. 7. blaſting and mildew, ver. 9. Peſtilence and the Sword, ver. 10. And when for all theſe they did not re­turne unto the Lord, hee threatneth yet a greater judge­ment, ver. 12. Therefore thus will I doe unto thee, O Iſrael. For this is Gods method in puniſhing: he beginneth with milder corrections, and when theſe cannot prevaile, he proceeds to ſharper judgements. In the fift of Hoſ. firſt he threatneth a gentle correction, ver. 12. J will be unto Ephraim as a Moth, and to the houſe of Iudah as rottenneſſe. But when they were not affected with the ſlow gnawing of a ſmall Moth, he threatneth a heavier judgement, ver. 14. I will be unto Ephraim as a Lyon, and as a young Lion to the houſe of Judah; I, even I, will teare and goe away: I will take away, and none ſhall reſcue him. And Levitic. 26. he threatneth ſeverall plagues againſt the tranſgreſſors of his21 Law: firſt, ſickneſſe ver. 16. then famine, ver. 9. after this deſtruction of their cattell, ver. 22. after that the ſword and Peſtilence, ver. 25. And after all theſe he addeth, And if you will not for all this hearken unto me, then will I bring ſeven times more plagues upon you; as if hee ſhould ſay, ſince ordinary afflictions cannot worke upon you, yee ſhall even goe into captivity. This is the ſecond degree of ven­geance which God brought upon his people, their abuſed ſoyle upon a ſurfeit of wickedneſſe, did ſpue out her per­fidious owners; they were carried captive unto Babel, and there were ſervants to a people, whoſe gods they knew not, whoſe language they did not underſtand: and as it was foretold, Their countrey was deſolate, their Cities burnt with fire, ſtrangers did devoure their Land in their pre­ſence, & the Daughter of Sion was left as a Cottage in a Vine­yard, as a lodge in a garden of Cucumbers, as a beſieged City. Iſa. 1.7.8. The third degree of vengeance which God bringeth upon a Nation, is utter deſtruction, ſuch as God brought upon the old World, upon Sodome and Gomor­rah, upon the Kingdome of Iſrael. It pleaſed God to bring back againe the captivity of Iudah, and they were as a fire-brand plucked out of the fire: but the flouriſhing King­dome of the ten Tribes came to a finall end, and ſo vani­ſhed in that her diſſipation, that no man ſince could ever ſay, this was Iſrael. Here was vengeance upon the whole Nation.

Such vengeance will God execute upon any Nation, if their ſinnes be come to a full height: and therefore how­ſoever thou be deſperately careleſſe of thy ſelfe, yet pitty the Nation that bred thee, and wherein thou breatheſt. If Paris be famous to this day, for occaſioning the deſtru­ction of Troy: how ſhall your names be branded with ig­nominy,22 if you bring deſtruction upon your Nation? but if you regard not the ſhame, yet feare the torment will fol­low your own Soules: God will require the bloud of them that periſh by your meanes, at your hands. If they that turne many to righteouſneſſe ſhall ſhine as the ſtarres, brighter then the firmament; then they who turne many unto wickeneſſe, ſhall burne in Hell as brimſtone it ſelfe, hotter then other wicked men, which yet ſhall be Faggots in Hell fire. The rich glutton in Hell had a great care for his brethren, that they ſhould not come into thoſe tor­ments; and the reaſon is, he knew that then his owne tor­ments ſhould be increaſed, becauſe by his example, he had been the author of their deſtruction. Have, I beſeech you, at leaſt as much charity, as damned Dives had; pit­ty your Nation, and be carefull that others fare not the worſe for your ſakes.

The laſt poynt is, That no priviledges and prerogatives can ſecure a Nation from judgement; but if iniquity doe abound, God will be avenged on any Nation, even upon this Nation of the Iewes which was his own people. In­deed never a Nation under the Cope of Heaven could compare with the Iewes for prerogatives: they were Gods people by peculiar adoption: the Lord did chuſe them a­bove all the people of the earth to ſet his love upon them: he gave his lawes unto Iacob, and his teſtimonies to Iſrael: he dealt not ſo with every Nation, as he dealt with them. To them partaineth (ſaith the Apoſtle) the adoption and the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the Law, and the ſervice of God, and the promiſes: whoſe are the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the fleſh, Chriſt came, Rom. 9.4. They had the Temple of God amongſt them, of which the Lord himſelfe ſpeaketh thus: This is my reſt for ever;23 here will I dwell. Pſ. 132.14. They had amongſt them the Arke of the Covenant, the Mercy-ſeat, the true worſhip of God, and what not? and yet they falling from God by a perpetuall Rebellion, muſt be deſtroyed, defaced, extin­guiſhed, and made a fearfull ſpectacle of Gods wrath to all poſterities. Thoſe prerogatives which they had, and the worſhip of God in which they truſted, could not free them from vengeance, as the Lord himſelfe forewarned them in the ſeventh chap. of this Prophecie: Behold yee truſt in lying words, which cannot profit, ſaying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord; will yee steale, murther, commit adultery, ſweare falſely, burne incenſe unto Baal, and walke after other Gods whom yee know not; and come and ſtand before me in my houſe, which is called by my name, and ſay, we are delivered to doe all theſe abominations? Is this houſe, which is called by myame, become a den of robbers? There­fore will I doe unto this houſe, which is called by my name, and wherein yee trust, as I have done to to Shiloh: and I will caſt you out of my ſight, as I caſt out all your brethren, even the whole ſed of Ephraim. Yea thoſe prerogatives and benefits which they had received, were ſo farre from ſa­ving them in the day of vengeance, that they did aggra­vate their guiltineſſe, and double their condemnation, as is expreſſed Amos 3.2. you onely have I knowne of all the fa­milies of the Earth, therefore will I puniſh you for all your iniquities: as if he ſhould ſay, becauſe I bleſſed you more then others, ſeeing now that you prove unthankfull, I will puniſh you more then others. God uſeth his former be­nefits, as arguments to prove that judgements were due unto them: for theſe three follow of courſe, Ingentia be­neficia, ingentia peccata, ingentes poenae: where God vouch­ſafeth to conferre great benefits upon a Nation, and they24 anſwer him with great ſins, certaine it is, that great judge­ments will enue. How doth our Saviour take on againſt theſe Cities, where he had preached, and wrought many miracles, and they were not converted? Woe be to thee Co­razin, Woe be to thee Bethſaida, woe be to thee Capernaum: for if that the great workes that have beene doe in thee, had been done in Tyrus and Sydon, in Sedome and Gomorrah, they would have repented: but it ſhall be eaſier for them of Tyrus, for them of Sodome at the day of judgement, then it ſhall be for you, Matth. 11.20. &c. So may I ſay unto many who now injoy the meanes of Salvation, and have drunk deepe of the cup of Gods bleſſings, and yet continue in their ſins: the time ſhall come when they ſhall cry out, oh that I were of Sodome, oh that I were of Gomorrah, oh that I had beene borne a Turke, a Pagan, and never knowne the good Word of God, rather then having knowne it, to have turned away from the holy Commandement.

Let us not therefore flatter our ſelves, in reſpect of an outward profeſſion of the true Religion, and becauſe of the manifold bleſſings wherewith Almighty God hath bleſ­ſed our Nations: for when God once commeth out of his place to puniſh the Inhabitants of the earth for their ini­quities, then the plea of Templum Domini will not ſerve the turne, if reformation of the heart and life be wanting: The Jewes, becauſe they had Abraham to their Father, thought themſelves free, and could not endure to heare of bondange: and indeed they were the ſeed of Iacob, the on­ly viſible Church that God had; yet when the faithfull City became an Harlot, God gave her a bill of divorce, his ſoule was avenged upon that Nation. Good God, if thy juſtice ſpared not Ieruſalem, what Nation can looke to eſcape? The Apoſtle directs us, what uſe we ſhould make25 of all the puniſhments of the Iewes, 1. Corin. 10.6. &c. Now theſe things were our examples, to the intent that we ſhould not luſt after evill things, as they alſo luſted. And that Scrip­ture brings me to my generall application.

You have heard Gods threatning againſt his people, in handling whereof I have proved, that great ſins procure not onely a viſitation, but a vengeance, yea, a ſpeedy ven­geance, not only upon particular perſons, but even upon the whole Nation, yea, upon any Nation, though never ſo neare and deare unto God, as upon the Nation of the Iewes. Now if we will reflect upon our ſelves, we wil find that we may vie bleſſings with the Iewes, bleſſings ſpirituall, and bleſſings temporall, the bleſſing of Peace the bleſſing of plenty, the bleſſing of many great and ex­traordinary deliverances from out enemies, and above all, the ineſtimable bleſſing of the word of God. And it fears me, that we ſhall find, we may tell ſins with them alſo, and overmatcht them by farte.

I pray you what were the ſins for which God was plea­ſed to execute vengeance upon his owne people? Was it Epicuriſme and fleſhly luſts; for theſe ſtandnereſt to the threatning in my Text, when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, they aſſembled themſelves by troopes in the harlots houſes: they were as fed Horſes in the morning: every one neighed after his Neighbours wife: Whereupon followeth this threatning, ſhall I not viſit for theſe things? Or was their ſinne Blood and Oppreſſion, Bribery and Injuſtice, Fraud and Deceipt, Robbery and Extortion, Lying, Avarice and Ambition, Pride and Prodigality, Oathes and Blaſphemy? Or was their ſinne Ingratitude and Hypocriſie, neglect of Gods word, diſobedience to his call, abuſe of his ſervants, and prophanation of his Sab­boths? 24〈1 page duplicate〉25〈1 page duplicate〉26carnall ſecurity, hardneſſe of heart, and contempt of Gods judgements? Or was it corruption in worſhip and groſſe idolatry? Of all theſe crimes they ſtand indicted by the Prophets, and in all theſe we have gone beyond them: as Jeruſalem juſtified Samaria, ſo have we more then juſtified Jeruſalem in all her abominations. I will inſtance only in one, or two. Our Prophet ſaith, Chap. 23.10. Be­cauſe of ſwearing the Land mourneth. And yet the leaſt child in our ſtreets could teach them all to ſweare: that ſin could not be ſo very common amongſt them; for they had a cuſtome to teare their clothes, when they heard one to blaſpheme: if we ſhould doe ſo in this age, I am ſure we ſhould not leave a ragge upon our backs. As we goe be­yond them in ſwearing, ſo alſo in lying: never was there any Iow, nor Frier either, that had a face ſo impudent, to deviſe ſuch lies, as now are publiſhed, allowed, rewar­ded, as being the beſt meanes they have to advance their holy Cauſe, Beſides, there are many ſins common amongſt us, which were either rare, or altogether unknowne unto the Iewes; as Uſury, which was not practiſed by them, except in their dealing with ſtrangers: neither doe we read of their Sacriledge, till after their returne from the captivity. Here, if time would permit me to ſpeake of your gaming, dicing, of your Maſques, and Stage­playes, &c. I could make it appeare, that there are ma­ny great ſinnes allowed amongſt us, which were not knowne vnto the Iewes, not ſo much as heard of in Sodome or Gomorrah. We haue new devices to cozen with, new inventions to pamper our bodies. and ſacri­fice to our panch, new faſhions to be proud with, new oathes to blaſpheme with, new dreſſings and tires of wo­men to provoke luſt: we have a new Rebellion, ſuch as was27 not knowne unto Gods people, and cannot be parallel'd amongſt the heathen: we have got a new Covenant to ſtrengthen that Rebellion; two new Idols ſet up, like Iero­boams Calues to draw away the people from the houſe of David, but that the one is inconſiſtent with the other; the Preſbytery of Geneva, and the independencie of New-England; and we haue almoſt as many new Religions as there were gods amongſt the heathen. Now ſhall not God viſit for theſe things? and ſhall not his ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this?

But beſides the number and quality of ſinnes, other things concurre to the finiſhing of ſinne in a Nation; as their extent, if they be generall; their freedome, if they be not puniſhed; their continuance, if they be perſevered in without repentance; and if we take a true view of our Na­tion, we ſhall find that none of theſe are wanting. Sin is ſo generall, that Almighty God now might cal for a ſearch as he doth in the firſt verſe of this Chap. Runne ye to and fro through the ſtreets of Ieruſalem, and ſee now and know, and ſeek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgement, and ſeeketh the truth. If God ſhould call for ſuch a ſearch to be made in our Land, I beleeve that but few ſuch ſhould be found. And for further tryall hereof, following the example of our Prophet, in the fifth verſe, Firſt, I will get we unto the great men of the Land, to ſee if they have knowne the way of the Lord, and the judgement of their God: but theſe have altoge­ther broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Their houſes are full of bribes, their hands are full of violence, they build unto themſelves houſes with the blood of the poore: if they doe not turne juſtice into wormwood, by a wrongful ſentence; yet I dare ſay, that they turne juſtice into vinegar,28 by their delayes. From the Rulers of the Land, I will paſſe unto the houſe of Levi, to ſee yet if the Prieſts lips doe preſerve knowledge, and their hearts holineſſe. Alas no­thing leſſe; but as the Princes of Jeruſalem are as roaring Lyons, and their Iudges as Wolves; ſo her Prophets are light and treacherous perſons: her Prieſts have polluted the San­ctuary, they have wreſted the Law. Zeph. 3.3.4. The Lord may complaine now, as he doeth by our Prophet, Chap. 23.11. both Prieſt and Prophet are prophane, yea in my houſe haue I found their wickedneſſe, ſaith the Lord. But I ſhall not need to accuſe the Clergy; for every mans mouth is open againſt them, and your ſacrilegious abuſe of them, is not the leaſt of theſe ſinnes, which God now cals to re­membrance; yet it cannot be denyed, but, as it is ſaid, Mal. 2.8. We have broken the Covenant of Levi, and there­fore hath God made us contemptible and baſe before all the people. It were eaſie to goe through all Eſtates and conditi­ons of men, and ſhew that ſinne like an Epidemicall diſeaſe poſſeſſeth the whole body of the Land, ſo that from the ſoale of the Foot, even unto the head, there is no foundneſſe in it, but wounds and bruiſes, and putrifying ſores, as is ſaid of Judah, Iſa. 1.6. And as our ſinnes are generall, ſo are they committed with great freedome: men are not reſtrained either with ſhame, or feare of puniſhment, which maketh our caſe yet more deſperate. When Phinces drew the ſword, and ſmote the adulterous perſons, he turned away Gods wrath, and cauſed the plague to ceaſe: but where there is not a Phinces to draw the ſword for the puniſh­ment of vice, there the guilt of theſe finnes lyes upon the Land, and draws downe the judgements of God upon the Nation, And it is not ſo with us now? for judgement is not executed, all ſinnes are either veniall, or venall: even29 the blood of many thouſand Innocents ſhed by Rebells, cryeth unto the heavens for a vengeance, becauſe there is none in earth to revenge it. And finally, doe we not conti­nue in our ſinnes without repentance, hardening our hearts againſt all Gods admonitions? So that it may be ſaid of us, as was ſaid of Ahaz,2 Chron. 28.22. That in the time of our diſtreſse wee treſpaſſe yet more against the Lord. Now ſhall I not viſit for theſe thing, (ſaith the Lord) ſhall not my ſoule be avenged on ſuch a Nation as this?

Yes, Almighty God hath already begun to viſit; he is come downe to execute vengeance upon our ſinfull Nati­on. In Ireland there is nothing but ruine, deſolation, and woe, dii multa neglecti dederunt beſperiae male luctuoſae: we of that ſinnefull Land did provoke God; and he hath ſtretched over us the line of Sodome, the Plummet of Sa­mariae. And as he hath done to Ireland, ſo is he like to doe to England: for he hath kindled a fire in your boſomes; he hath ſent ſuch an evill ſpirit between the King and His People,Iudg. 9.25. as he did betweene Abimelech and the men of Se­chem. This Kingdome, which is ſecured by Seas from For­raigne Invaſion, is now like to deſtroy it ſelfe: for there is ſuch a bloody, cruell, and unnaturall Rebellion in it, as may miniſter matter and occaſion to a new booke of La­mentations, This Kingdome was once like Iſrael,Lam. . . c. 2.15. great among the Nations, and Princeſse among the Provinces; the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth; a refuge and ſhelter to ſtrangers in diſtreſſe. But now the Lord hath cast downe her beauty from heaven unto the earth:v. 1.2. he hath ſwal­lowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: he hath ſlaine all that were pleaſant to the eye,v. 41. he hath powred out his fury like ſire, the Lord hath cast off his Altar:v. 7. he hath abborred his Sanctuary; he hath taken away his Taberracle,30 he hath deſtroyed his places of the aſſembly:2.6. the Lord hath caſed the ſolemne feaſts to be forgotten, and hath deſpiſed in the indignation of his anger the King and the Prieſt. In a word, God hath brought ſo many calamities upon this Land, that I could ſay with our Prophet, Chap. 9.1. Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountaine of teares, that I might weepe day and night for the ſlaine of the daugh­ter of my people. God hath ſent amongſt us his three great plagues, famine, peſtilence, the ſword: The greateſt of theſe is the ſword, as may appeare by Davids choyce: and now the Lord hath put the ſword in Commiſſion: he hath ſent it to ride Circuit from one County to another, as is ex­preſſed, Cha. 47.6. O thou Sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thy ſelfe into thy ſcabberd, reſt, and be ſtill. Whereunto anſwer is made in the next words, how can it be quiet, ſeeing the Lord hath given it a charge againſt Aſkelon, and againſt the Sea ſhore: there hath he appoynted it. Such a charge hath he given unto his ſword at this time. It is a ſword like that which is deſcri­bed, Ezek. 21. A ſword, a ſword ſharpned, and alſo foubi­ſhed ver. 9. It is the ſword of the great men that were ſlain, entring into the privy Chambers, ver. 14. It contemneth the rod of my ſonne, ver. 10, that is, it regardeth not the Kings Scepter, where even the Geneva note in the Margine tells us, that the King is called the Sonne of God, becauſe that all men ſhould reverence Him as being in Gods place. But this is a deſperate ſword, as is expreſſed, verſe 13. And what ſhall this be, if the ſword contemne even the rod? Such is the ſword which God hath ſent againſt our Land: It contem­neth the rod, deſpiſeth the Scepter, & ſpareth not the per­ſon of the King himſelfe; ſo that the breath of our noſtrills, the anoynted of the Lord was almoſt taken in their pits. 31Lam. 4.20. This ſword is ſo deſperate, that it devoureth without reſpect of ſex, age, or conditions of men: and there is no end of deſtroying. We may now with ſad hearts, and wet eyes behold the whole Kingdome, like a ſorrowfull Widow; not onely as Rebecca, pained with the ſtrugling of her children in her wombe; but as Rachel, weeping for her children, who will not be comforted be­cauſe they are not.

It is repotted of Judas Macchabaeus, 2. Mac. 12. that af­ter a ſhaughter of the People, he cauſed to offer up Sacri­fice for the dead. Now howſoever that author hath related this ſtory, yet I cannot believe that Judas offered any Sa­crifice for the benefit of the dead; for certainly that error is not ſo ancient: but it may wel be, that he cauſed to offer up Sacrifice becauſe of the dead; that is to ſay, by the ſlaughter of thoſe men that fell, he perceived that Gods wrath was kindled againſt all the People, and ſo he offered Sacrifice to make an atonement for themſelves. So we ſhall doe well now, to offer up ſacrifice becauſe of the Slain, to turn away Gods wrath from us, leſt we all like­wiſe periſh. I know there is a ſacrifice intended; but it is ſuch as will make no atonement. Many diveliſh polititi­ans would now make a ſacrifice of the Church: they call it a Reformation of Religion; but it would prove the de­ſtruction of it. This hath bin often attempted before, and it was obſerved by M. Cartwright, & the author of the Ec­cleſiasticall diſcipline, that it was covetouſneſſes which ſet on worktheir Lay-followers, to bring in their diſcipline. Whileſt they heare us ſpeake against Biſhops and Cathedrall Churches (ſaith the author of the Eccleſiaſticall diſcipline) it tickleth their eares, looking for the like prey they had be­fore32 of Monasteries; Yea, they have in their hearts devoured already the Churches inheritance. They care not for Religion, ſo they may get the ſpoyle. They could be content to crucifie Chriſt, ſo they might have his garments. Our age is full of ſpoyling ſouldiers, and of wicked Dionyſians, who will robbe Christ of his golden Coate, as neither fit for him in Winter nor in Summer. And ſaith M. Cartwright, They are Cor­morants, and ſeeke to fil the bottomleſse ſacks of their greedy appetites. They doe yawne after a prey, and would thereby, to their perpetuall ſhame, purchaſe to themſelves a field of blood. So that even in the judgement of theſe men who were the founders of this Rebellious Sect, it is no accepta­bleſacrifice to God, for men to appropriate to themſelves the maintenance of the Church, and ſuch things as have been dedicated to Gods ſervice. This is not to offer up a Sacrifice to God, but to ſacrifice the things that are Gods unto wicked and Sacrilegious men. Such a Sacrifice will be ſo farre from pacifying Gods wrath, that it will in­cenſe it the more againſt us, and againſt the whole Land: ſuch a Sacrifice will be as abominable unto God, as was under the Law, the cutting off a Dogs neck, and the offering of Swines blood. Iſa. 68.3.

It is another Sacrifice wherewith we muſt make an a­tonement, even that Sacrifice which David, repenting of his ſin, vowed unto God, Pſ. 51.17. The ſacrifice of a bro­ken and contrite heart, which God will not deſpiſe. Wee muſt humble our ſelves in the ſenſe of our ſins, and cry mightily unto God, that the fierceneſſe of his wrath may be turned away. By this humiliation Gods wrath hath beene often pacifyed: Ahab by an outward humiliation, procured the adjourning of a temporall judgement. So33 did the Ninevites, when their deſtruction was within for­tie dayes, they humbled themſelves and faſted; whereup­on the Lord repealed his ſentence, and they were not de­ſtroyed. In the ſecond of Ioel I find, that even when the day of the Lord was nigh at hand, ver. 1. that is, deſtruction readie to fall upon them preſently, yet God was willing to ſtay his hand, and that his people ſhould make his threatnings voyd: for in the 12. verſe he exhorts them unto repentance, ſaying, Therefore alſo now, ſaith the Lord, turne you unto me: alſo now, that is, even now when the ſentence is gone forth, when the judgement is at hand, now when I have whet my Sword, bent my Bow, and prepared the inſtruments of death; yet Turne ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: rent your hearts, and turne unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and mercifull, who knoweth if he will returne and repent, and leave a bleſsing behind him? Therefore blow the Trumpet in Sion, ſanctifie a Faſt, cll a ſolemne Aſſembly. Let the Prieſts, the Miniſters of the Lord weepe betweene the Porch and the Altar, and ſay, Spare thy People, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach. When Shiſhak King of Egypt, came up againſt Ieruſalem, in the dayes of Reho­boam, and tooke in the fenced Cities of Iudah; the Princes of Iſrael and the King humbled themſelves: And when the Lord ſaw they humbled themſelves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, ſaying, They have humbled themſelves, therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them ſome deliverance, and my wrath ſhall not be poured out upon Ieru­ſalem by the hand of Shſhak. 2 Chron. 12.7. So power­full is true humiliation to aſſwage the flames of Gods34 wrath. But for want of this humiliation, many times Gods people, maintaining a good Cauſe by lawfull au­thoritie, yet are foyled, as were the Iſraelites before Ai, who could not prevaile, untill ſuch time as Ioſhua fell on his face, and mourned and cried unto the Lord. Joſ. 7.6. The Iſraelites going againſt the Tribe of Benjamin, were Gods. people, they had a good Cauſe, and a ſpeciall Commiſ­ſion from God; yet were they twice foyled, becauſe they did neglect to ſeek God by repentance and humiliation, as doth appeare by the event: for being beaten unto it, they went up to the Lord, and wept and faſted, and offered burnt offerings and Peace-offerings before the Lord. Iudg. 20.26. Whereupon they overcame the Benjamites. In the firſt of Sam. 7.6. it is ſaid, that the people drew water and powred it out before the Lord, and faſted; that is, as the Chaldee ob­ſerveth, they poured out their hearts before God, and ſhed teares in ſuch abundance, as if they had drawne water and powred in upon the ground: whereupon God tooke their Cauſe in hand againſt the Philiſtims. So Iehoſophat proclaimed a Faſt when the Moabites came againſt him. 2 Chron. 20.3. And it is reported of O tho the great, that being to joyne battel with the Hungarians, he proclaimed a Faſt in his Campe, and called upon God. If we would thus humble our ſelves, God would ſoone humble our enemies: it is his owne Covenant, Pſ. 81.13. O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Iſrael had walked in my wayes: I ſhould ſoone have ſubdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adverſaries. This Covenant is ex­preſſely ſet downe by our Prophet, Chap. 18.7, 8. At what inſtant I ſhall ſpeake concerning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdome, to pluck up and to pull downe, and deſtroy it: if that35 Nation againſt whom I have pronounced, turne from their evill, I will repent of the evill that I thought to doe unto them. The like is promiſed, 2. Chron. 7.14. If my people which are called by my name, ſhall humble themſelves, and pray, and ſeek my face, and turne from their wicked wayes: then will I heare from Heaven, and will forgive their ſin, and heale their Land. Where obſerve, that we muſt not only humble our ſelves, pray, and ſeeke Gods face: but alſo we muſt turne from our wicked wayes; otherwiſe we cannot expect that God ſhould heale our Land.

Therefore in the next place I ſay, that with our humi­liation, we muſt joyne the reformation of our lives. It is not enough that we bow down our heads like a bul-ruſh, and afflict our ſoules for a day by faſting: if afterwards we returne to our ſins as a dogge to his vomit: we have often faſted, or made a ſhew to faſt, ſince this bloody Re­bellion begun: but it ſeemes God hath not regarded our Faſtings, for his anger is not turned away but his hand is ſtretched out ſtill. And the reaſon is, we doe not faſt from ſin: but pour out our ſelves into all manner of wic­kedneſſe and ſo long as we by our ſins fight againſt God, we may be ſure that God will fight againſt us. When Trajan, Generall to Valens the perſecuting Emperour, was defeated by the Gothes; the Emperour upbraiding him with cowardiſe and ſloth, as the cauſes of the over­throw, he told the Emperour, that himſelfe was the cauſe of the loſſe, for you doe ſo warre againſt God,Niceph. lib. 11. cap. 4. (ſaith he) that you abandon the victory, and ſend it to your Enemies. When Phocas had built a mighty well about his Palace for his ſecurity in the night he heard a voyce, ſaying, O King, though thou build as high as the clouds,Cedren. Hiſt. pag. 5 42. yet the City36 may eaſily be taken; the ſinne within will marre all. Except ſin be caſt over the wals, a wall of braſſe is but a vaine thing. To this purpoſe ſpeaketh the Comick, Si incolae benè ſint morati pulchrè munitam arbritror; at niſi invidia, avaritia, ambitio exulent, centuplex murus parum eſt. Therefore the Romans at firſt in their warrs (as Vlpian and Flavius Vopiſcus doe teſtifie) made choice of no criminous par­ties, no adulterers, no condemned perſons; yea, no bond­ſlaves, nor contentious brawlers. But afterward (as Li. vie ſaith) the Common-wealth being brought to the very pinch of deſpaire, they imployed ſuch wicked perſons, whereof Scipio complained,Liv. l. 10. Dec. 3. ſaying, Non eſt mihi tantum ab hoſtibus armatis periculi, &c. We need not ſo much to fear the forces of our enemies, as our own ill conditions: for indeed, as Ambroſe ſaith, Graviores ſunt inimici mores pravi, quam hoſies infeſti. Our ſinnes areenemies more to be feared, then armed men. It is out ſins that have layd Chriſtian Kindomes open to the tyranny of the Turke, & now our ſins have betrayed us into the hands of more cruell and harbarous enemies, then the Turkes: our ſins are the only cauſe of their prevailing: they have not pre­vailed ſo farre, for that their cauſe is good, or their carri­age better then their cauſe, for both are ſtarke naught) but God cannot endure that in his own people, which for a time he will in his enemies: the Midianites who cauſed the Jſraelites to ſin, were worſe then the Jſraelites; yet God firſt corrected his owne people, and then vexed the Midianites. Therefore how carefully ſhould wee take heed unto our wayes, now when the ſword is upon the lnd? many think that in the time of war, there is a liber­ty of ſin, and they may doe what they liſt, & ſuch is now,37 for the moſt part, the carriage of our Soludiers: they doe not Sanctifie a warre, as God requireth, Ioel, 3.9. but by their godleſſe behaviour they diſcredit the good cauſe for which they fight. As we ſhould keepe our ſelves from ſin at all times, ſo eſpecially in the time of warre: ſin hath no time allowed for it, but it is never more untimely, nor out of ſeaſon, then in the time of Warre; for Warre is the puniſhment of ſinne; Warre is the ſickneſſe, ſin is the ſurfeit: now when we are ſicke of a ſurfeit, will we not be carefull to order our ſelves well, to keep a ſtrict diet, and not then to drinke in ini­quity like water, diſtemper our ſelves, as though wee were in perfect ſtate of health, and ſo make our diſeaſe deſperate? Warre is the rod of Gods wrath for our ſinnes: now when Gods fearfull rod is over us, when his hand is upon us for our ſinnes, then to ſinne and provoke God more, is a high contempt againſt him, a putting him to open defiance. Warre is an act of Juſtice, of juſtice corrective, whoſe office is to puniſh ſinne: and is it not abſurd, that we ſhould then poure out our ſelves into ſinne, when we goe about to correct ſinne in others? Or with what face can we puniſh Rebells, when wee our ſelves ſtand out in rebellion againſt God? Beſides, God is the Lord of hoſts, the battell is his, and he giveth the victory: now how can we expect that God ſhould give us any victory, or goe out and in with our Armies, if we continue ſtill in our ſinnes, whereby Gods wrath is provoked againſt us? Remember therefore, I beſeech you, that caveat which God hath given us, Deut. 23.9. it is the great Canon of Martiall-diſcipline: When thou goeſt out with the hgſt againſt thine enemies, keepe thee38 then from all wickedneſſe. The reaſon followeth, ver 14. For the Lord thy God walketh in the midſt of thy Campe, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee: there­fore ſhall thy Campe be holy, that he ſee no uncleane thing in thee, and turne away from thee. For by experience we find that ſpeech to be true, which Azariah the Prophet ſpake to King Aſa, 2. Chron. 15.2. The Lord is with you, while yee are with him; but if yee forſake him, he will forſake you.

As with our humiliation we muſt joyne reformati­on of our lives; ſo we muſt teſtfie this our repentance by workes of mercy and charity towards the poore: Daniel joynes theſe two together, in that counſell which he gave unto Nebuchadnezzar, Breake off thy ſinnes by righteouſneſſe, and thine iniquities by ſhewing mercy to the poore. Dan. 4.27. Surely if ever there were a time to extend the bowells of mercy, now it is, when there are ſo many objects of mercy, even men full of miſery. But that whereunto I am now to exhort you, is not onely a worke of charity and mercy; but an act of thankfulneſſe whereunto you are bound by the Law of Nature, namely to contribute for the reliefe of the poore, maimed, and ſick Souldiers, who have ventu­red their lives, and ſpent their blood for the defence of their Country. I will adde onely one thing more, that this our repentance muſt be generall, as our ſin is gene­rall and Nationall: a particular man, by turning from his wicked wayes, may avert a particular judgement hanging over his owne head; but where the Rebellion againſt God hath been generall, and the judgement pre­pared is ſome generall calamity upon the Land, there39 nothing can turne away Gods wrath, but a generall converſion unto God; as the Lord himſelfe hath taught us, Ezech. 14.13. Sonne of man, when the Land ſinneth against me by treſpaſſing grievouſly, then will I stretch out my hand upon it: and though theſe three men, Noah, Daniell, and Iob, were in it, they ſhould deliver but their owne ſoules by their righteouſneſſe; they ſhall deliver nei­ther Sonnes nor Daughters: they onely ſhall be delivered, but the Land ſhall be deſolate. If the Sea roare and ſwell, and be ready to breake the bankes; it is not the care of one or two in repairing their bankes, that will prevent the inundation; but there muſt be a generall concur­rence of all that are neare the place: So now, when God hath begun to roare from above againſt our Na­tion, and is ready to ſwallow us up; there muſt be a ge­nerall endeavour to ſtop the breach; otherwiſe the par­ticular care of ſome few will not prevent the deluge of his wrath. Would we therefore remove this generall judgement which is upon our Land, our repentance muſt be generall, as the ſinne was generall that brought the judgement? let us therefore call one another, as did the repenting Iſraelites, Hoſ. 6.1. ſaying, Come, and let us returne unto the Lord, for he hath torne, and he will heale us: he hath ſmitten, and he will bind us up. And as it is, Chap. 50.4. of this book, let the Chil­dren of Iſrael and the Children of Iudah, come together, and weeping ſeeke the Lord. Thus if we ſeeke him, hee will be found of us; he will yet heale our Land, and reſtore unto us the yeares which the Caterpiller hath devoured; he will give us beauty for aſhes, and the40 oyle of gladneſſe, for the ſpirit of heavineſſe; hee will make the bones which he hath broken to rejoyce: which God of his infinite mercy grant, &c.

FINIS.

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TextA sermon preached at the publique fast the ninth of Feb. in St Maries Oxford, before the great assembly of the members of the Honourable House of Commons there assembled: and published by their speciall command.
AuthorLeslie, Henry, 1580-1661..
Extent Approx. 79 KB of XML-encoded text transcribed from 23 1-bit group-IV TIFF page images.
Edition1643
SeriesEarly English books online.
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Bibliographic informationA sermon preached at the publique fast the ninth of Feb. in St Maries Oxford, before the great assembly of the members of the Honourable House of Commons there assembled: and published by their speciall command. Leslie, Henry, 1580-1661.. [2], 40, [2] p. Printed by Leonard Lichfield, printer to the Vniversity,Oxford :1643.. (Attributed on A1v to the Bishop of Down, i.e. Henry Leslie.) (The last leaf is blank.) (Reproduction of the original in the British Library.) (Annotation on Thomason copy reads: "March 8th 1643".)
Languageeng
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  • Bible. -- O.T. -- Jeremiah V, 9 -- Sermons.
  • Fast-day sermons -- 17th century.
  • Sermons, English -- 17th century.

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