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SERMONS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS.
THE TRUE SOLDIER'S CONVOY.
A SERMON PREACHED MAY 16, 1640, UPON A PRAYER DAY FOR THE
PRINCE'S GOOD SUCCESS IN GOING FORTH TO WAR,
* Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is slain; thou hast scattered ihine enemies with thy strong arm.”—Psalm lxxxviii. 10.
TO THE READER.-Reader, out of desire to the good of God's people, and in respect of these troublesome times, it was thought not altogether unfit by some friends to print these few notes, in reading of which thou art desired not to ex. pect much completeness of dependency or style, as not being ordered to the press by the Author himself, but by a very weak hand; whatsoever, therefore, thou shalt find herein profitable, that improve; if any thing otherwise, that cover by christian love, and the God of love be with thee. Amen.
Numb. X. 35.
This chapter delivereth itself into four parts : in the first part the author speaketh of the silver trumpets, and of the matter and use of them; secondly, he sheweth the march of the children of Israel under their several standards; thirdly, he speaketh of a conference had between Moses and Hobab, verse 29; and, fourthly, you have Moses' prayer: “ And they departed from the mount, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, &c. And it came to pass when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” When they removed, still they prayed. When they set forth with their army they used those words, “ Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” When they returned with their army at the latter end of the year, or at any time, they said, “ Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.” You have here their going forth : “ Arise, O Lord,” &c.
It is as if he had said thus : O Lord, thou hast promised thy presence to thy people, and therefore thou hast given them thine ark, the outward sign of thy presence; now we are to go forth to war, and that is a dangerous work, oh, let us not go alone, without thee, but let us have thy presence; wherefore, “ Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.” He doth not say thus: O Lord, we entreat thee give us good munition or good provision, or (that which the world calleth the nerves of war) give us money; but, as if he would shew that God's presence is most desirable to an army, and that God's presence is their munition and provision, and containeth all things, he saith, “ Arise, O Lord," &c.
These words contain something implied and something expressed. Implied, two things. 1. That God hath enemies : that seems to be granted. 2. That God sleepeth to his enemies; therefore he saith, “ Arise.” These implied. Expressed, three things. 1. The manner of the petition: and that is that God would arise. 2. The effect of God's rising: and that is, that his enemies may be scattered. 3. The occasion of this petition: that is, their going forth to war.
From these words, “ Then Moses said,” &c., accordingly there are five notes or observations that I intend, God willing, to run through at this time.
First, That God himself hath many enemies.
Secondly, As God hath enemies, so sometimes he sleepeth to all their enmity.
Thirdly, Though God sleepeth and they work, yet there is a time when they shall be scattered; and when God ariseth they are scattered.
Fourthly, Our prayers awaken God.
Fifthly, When the people of the land go forth to war, God's people should go forth to prayer.
First, God himself hath many enemies. Let none wonder at this, nay rather wonder that God hath any friends in the world, it is so wicked; the Scripture is full for it: “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies," Psalm viii. 2; “ But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs," Psalm xxxvii. 20; “ Thine enemies roar," &c. Ps. lxxiv. 4. Ye know the Psalm, “ For lo thine enemies, O Lord; for lo thine enemies,” xcii. 9.
Those that are in league and covenant one with another have common friends and common enemies. God's children are in covenant with God, and therefore they having enemies, God hath enemies.
There is a special contrariety between God and the world : “ The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, for they are contrary,” Gal. v. 17. Take but this one instance in this matter of contrariety to see how contrary God and the godly are to the devil and the wicked. Let a thing be never so bad, God and the godly will turn it to good and God's honour. Let a thing be never so good, the devil and wicked men will turn it to bad and God's dishonour. Now enmity being nothing else but enlivened contrariety, and there being such a contrariety between God and the world, it cannot be but that God should have many enemies. That which maketh a thing so is more so. If a man loathe a beaker or vessel because physic hath been in it, he loatheth the physic much more; and if the world hate the godly because they are godly, then they hate God much more. Now the godly have many enemies, and that for this reason, because they are godly, therefore God himself hath more.
Further, when two are at a great distance and neither do yield, buckle, nor comply too or with one another, there must needs be a great enmity. Now, saith our Saviour Christ, “ You cannot love God and mammon; you must love the one and hate the other.” God will have no complying. And for this reason the senate of Rome, as the historians give it, would not acknowledge Jesus Christ to be a God: because he is such an one, say they, as if we acknowledge him to be God, he will not let us acknowledge other gods; other gods will comply, and be content we shall acknowledge others also, but for this Christ, if we acknowledge him we must acknowledge none other. Now God is very incomplying in all his ways, therefore God himself must needs have many enemies, and very deadly. Hence we may see that it is no strange and new thing for us that are the people of God to meet with enemies. Why should we be discouraged though we meet with enemies? Are we better than our Lord and Master? Shall God himself have many enemies and shall we think to have none? It was the complaint of a heathen man, Inimicos habeo, I have enemies : his friend standing by gave him
this answer, Sed pejus est quod amicos non habes, But that is worse, that thou hast no friends. Though a man have many enemies, yet if he hath some faithful friends he may comfort himself thus: Though I have most bitter and vile enemies, yet I have as fast and sure friends. So that here is a further argument to shore up our unbelieving hearts : God himself hath many enemies.
But my enemies are such as do pretend friendship; and truly so are God's enemies such as do pretend love. I pray you tell me, I put it to your own hearts, who are those that do pretend more love to God than the breakers of the second commandment, that do make images, and wherefore do they so? Say they, We will have an image of Christ wheresoever we be come that we may always be put in mind of Christ. What a mighty pretence of love is here; and yet the breakers of the second commandment are said to be haters of God. It is not said so of the breakers of any of the other commandments that they are haters of God, but of those that break the second commandment; “ visiting the iniquity of the fathers
the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” So that though they pretend the most love, yet they are the most haters.
But for my enemies, the Lord knoweth I have done them no wrong, but good. I pray you hath not God done good unto his enemies? God hath many enemies, but what hurt hath God done them ? Have you enemies? God hath so. Have you many enemies? God hath so. Have you many false enemies? God hath so. Remember this doctrine: God himself hath many enemies.
The second observation is: As the Lord hath many enemies so he is pleased for a time to sleep unto his enemies. He sleepeth; therefore it is said here, “ Arise;" arising is opposed to sleeping. Lord, why sleepest thou? Psalm xliv. 23. But what is that? Not that we should understand it literally, for so the prophet derided Baal's priests : “Cry aloud, it may be your God sleepeth," i Kings xviii. 27; but understand it metaphorically: a man is said to be asleep when he is so intense about one business that he doth not regard another; that business which he doth not meddle with he is said to be asleep to: so, now, when God shall have many enemies, and they shall blaspheme his name, and revile his people, and hinder