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done already. It is said, “ By faith Abraham offered up Isaac,” Heb. xi. 17; yet he did not actually offer him up, but intended it, and set himself to do it at God's command. It is said, that “ Moses took his wife and son, and returned to the land of Egypt,” Exod. iv. 20; yet he was but in the beginning of his return. When we have begun any good work for God, he speaks of it as done altogether. Therefore he having begun that great and good work for the churches, the fall of Babylon, it is our duty also to speak of it as if it were done already.
Let us therefore correct our manner of speaking. If any storm or trouble arise upon the churches, we are ready to break forth into despondent conclusions, saying, God is now gone, mercy gone, the ordinances gone; we were in good hope to have seen good days, the ruin of the church's enemies; but they do so prevail, as that we have no hope at all in this particular. But though the extremity of the church be never so great, and the enemies never so flourishing, we ought to say, They are fallen, they are fallen.
But how can we speak thus, when an utter improbability and unlikelihood dwells upon the business?
Yes. For when God destroys his enemies, he either takes them away by a weak hand, as Jer. 1. 45, “ The least of the flock shall draw them out;" or, they shall perish by their own hands, as Ps. ix. 16, “ The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands;" or, they shall be destroyed without hands, as Job xxxiv. 20, “ The mighty shall be taken away without hands.” And is this true, may the soul say, that the enemies of the church shall perish by a weak hand, or by their own hand, or without hands; then will I never sink and despair in my heart, or give ill language to God's faithfulness, though the condition of God's churches be never so low, though the condition of the enemies be never so high.
If we are to speak of this work as if it were done already, when it is not done indeed; then how contrary are those to God's word, who say it is not done when it is done indeed : that will not acknowledge God's work, that say on the contrary, It is not fallen, it is not fallen, when it is fallen in truth. And such there shall be, who when the vial is poured upon the seat of the beast,“ shall gnaw their tongues, and blaspheme the God of heaven, not repenting of their deeds,"
Rev. xvi. 10, 11. But I hope better things of you, and such as accompany salvation. Only now if there be any here, that have given any assistance to Babylon, by pen, tongue, or hand, let them repent. On, every one, repent you of your superstition, repent, repent you, lest you partake with Babylon in all her plagues and torments to all eternity. And remember that speech of Godtesscalchus: I am afraid to deny the truth, lest I be for ever denied by the truth. Christus est via et veritas, non consuetudo. Christ is the way and truth, not custom, not innovation. And if there be ever a drunkard, swearer, adulterer, sabbath-breaker, or profane person here, let him labour to get into Christ, lest when he shall see these great works come to pass, and come to pass ye shall see them shortly, with greater works of God than I have mentioned, ye may be able to rejoice in them; whereas otherwise you will say, Aye, these be glorious works indeed, and comfortable for those that are in Christ, but I am a poor wretched drunkard, and not in Christ. Wherefore above all things get into Christ, so shall you rejoice with the felicity of God's chosen.
And if any have had any ill thoughts or words of, or against God's people, now change your words and your thoughts of them, for, for their sakes it is, that these great works are to be done. “ Thus saith the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all the nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships,” Isa. xliii. 14.
ON ZECHARIAH I. 18—21, II. 1.
PREACHED BEFORE THE HONOURABLE HOUSE OF COMMONS, AT THEIR
PUBLIC Fast, NOVEMBER 29, 1643.
“ Behold I come as a thief, blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments lest he walk naked, and they see his shame," Rev. xvi. 15.
To the HONOURABLE THE KNIGHTS, CITIZENS AND BURGESSES OF THE
COMMONS HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT. Right WORTHY SENATORS.-According unto your command I have presented these notes unto your hands and the world's view; give me leave, withal, to present my humble thankfulness for your unwearied labour of love to these three kingdoms, and in them unto all the churches of Christ ; for as once the Poles' ambassador said in regard of the Turk, Per latus Poloniæ petunt Europam, I may say in regard of your and our enemies, through the sides of England, Scotland and Ireland, they strike at all that is truly called christendom, your wisdom therefore doth well to make good these passages.
It is true, indeed, your work is great, but it is for the great God; and Solomon saith, “ The house that I build is great, for great is our God,” 2 Chron. ii. 5. Shall not we do great things for him who hath done and suffered great things for ins and by us ? “ Sicut calere contra frigidum hoc est repugnare frigido, virtutis est atque vigoris, sic amareet appetere insuavo sive molestum,” &c.- Parisiens de Fide.
Your work is clogged with many difficulties ; but if it were not so, how should the strength of your love appear either to your God or to your country? A man may be said to love the truth before the wind of opposition riseth, but be cannot be said to hold it fast, or cleave unto it, till he meets with some that would take it from him, Deut. xiii. 1—4. Difficulty doth commend duty: there was a stone rolled upon Christ's grave, and there is a difficulty rolled upon every truth or way of God which through the evil of the times hath been buried; but when you come to the grave's mouth, the place where you think to meet with most difficulty, there and then the stone shall be rolled away. “ Operum difficultates coelorum suavitates consequuntur.” The more difficulty in doing, the more sweetness in the work done.
Your work is berounded with many dangers, but the neglect of it is more dangerous, and the frown of a prince may sometimes stand with the favour of God; “ Nec mendacii utilitas est diuturna, nec veritatis damnum diu nocet:" neither shall flattery always hold in credit, nor truth ever continue in disgrace.
Your work is reproached sometimes, and calumniated by divers adversaries : but as Seneca said to his friend, Male de te loquuntur homines, sed mali; so may I say to you, Men speak evil of you, but they are evil men, and it may be, yea it is likely God will hear the language of your Peninahs, and make you the more fruitful, especially you doing as Hannah did, who though she was willing to answer to the charge of Eli, because he did speak from zeal, yet she would not an
that whoso ,פרעגדר ישכנו הנחש ,which they have borrowed of Solomon
swer the reproach of Peninah because she spoke from batred. “ Cur respondet sacerdoti, sed Peninnæ non respondeat Anna? quia Peninna erat persona privata, sacerdos autem publica: item Peninna loquebatur ex odio, sacerdos ex zelo: unde illud negligendum erat, ille instruendus." -Mend. in Sam. Surely malignant clamours are best answered when neglected. Tutius aliquando agit qui calum. nias non exaudet. Jesus Christ was eclipsed that God's servants might shine.
Your work, also, is or may be disadvantageous unto your own particular interests, your public employments cannot but hinder your private affairs, yet be pleased to remember Moses and Joshua, who were men of great service in their generation, having as full an opportunity to have made themselves rich as ever men had, yet we do not read of any great lot they shared out to themselves or their posterity. You are now employed upon God's service; as for your own private affairs, if you afford them some relics of your love, and so much only as the public leaves, it is enough; for what is too cold for God is hot enough for the world ; yet as the baggage unto an army, so are things temporal to spiritual, and personal estates to public employments. “ Toleramus potius præsentia quam diligamus."--Augustin.
And in the throng of all your discouragements, be pleased also to remember how good, how honourable, how successful your service is and will be.
It is good, first, in regard of the State ; for you are now in travail for your country's liberty, which though it may stick some time in the birth, and a dragon stand before you to devour it before it is born, yet in due time it shall be brought forth, and we shall not only be liberati, but liberi. The Hebrews lave a proverb
, ' , breaketh down the hedge shall be bitten with serpents. The hedges of the State or Church are the laws, as Drusius interprets it : “ Qui diruit maceriam, eum mordebit serpens ; qui legum constitutiones impingit, non feret impune; qui religionis sacra violat, non erit a pæna immunis :" or the ordinances thereof. Those enemies of yours or ours, that have or would tread down our hedges even to the ground, shall not ever go unpunished. When the hedge is lowest the serpent is nearest.
Good, again, in regard of the churches ; for through your pains and labour of love, those swelling parts, I had almost said wens, which engrossed all the outward nutriment unto themselves, the direful presage of a people's death and ruin, are either taken off or made more proportionable. “ Ut videmus in corpore humano (cui apostolus in pluribus epistolarum suarum passibus comparat) quod si nutrimentum luit ad unum membrum, ita ut enormiter ingrossetur et alia nimia attenuatione demacerentur non potest diu vivere: sic in corpora eccles. si supe. riores fiant ita graves attractione substantiæ quod inferiores vix possunt præ inopia se sustinere, hoc est signum jam propinquæ ruinæ."-Gersom.
Your service is very honourable ; for what greater honour than under Jesus Christ to be your country's saviours and your Lord's servants ? Upon Moses's death, it was said, Moses, the servant of thc Lord, is dead; not Moses, the prince of the people, but the servant of the Lord, So Psalm xviii., in the title of the Psalm, it is said, “ A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord;" not, A Psalm of David, the anointed king of Israel, but, as if it were more honour to be God's servant than Israel's king, it is said, the servant of the Lord: such honour have all our worthies.
Your service is and will be most successful ; it is truth you stand for; and though the truth may labour, as Hierom speaks, it cannot be overcome : • Veritas laborare potest, vinci non potest.” For what, saith Mendoza, is more
impregnable than the heavens ? and truth hath built itself a tower there. " Quid enim cælo inexpugnabilius ? veritas arcem in cælo collocavit,” Ps. cxix.
Thy word, O Lord, is settled in the heavens,” Ps. cxix. Wherefore, worthy Sirs, as heretofore, so now much more be always abounding in the work of the Lord, in due time you shall reap if you faint not. If you want money to carry on your (yet not your, but God's) public design, remember what was promised unto Cyrus, who in regard of rebuilding the temple, was to do your work in the type. “1 will go before thee, saith God, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places,” Isa. xlv. 2, 3. And doth not your own experience tell you, thus, even thus hath our God dealt by us; for the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places have been brought forth unto us ; gold and silver that hath not seen the light for many years before. God is the same God still, and his promise, which is your mint, the same.
If you want outward strength and power, then remember how often, when the Jews were to build the temple, and therein to meet with enemies, the Lord inculcates that his attribute upon them, the Lord of Hosts : “ Thus saith the Lord of Hosts,” thrice in one verse, Zech. xv. 3; and five times in four short verses, Hag. ii.
“ Silver is mine, and gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts ; I will fill this house with my glory, saith the Lord of Hosts,” &c.
And if you find not the hearts of the people coming up always to your forwardness, then your wisdom knoweth how to improve the beats of their hearts while they last. All things, you know, are easy and beautiful in their season ; and because men know not time and judgment, therefore their misery is great
But, above all things, let your eye be upon that most which God's eye is most upon, truth, reformation, and pure religion. State hypocrites desire truth for peace sake, godly statesmen desire peace for truth's sake; war is for peace, but peace for truth : wherefore that I may serve you herein, I take the boldness to lay these few lines before you.
The sermon calleth for exactness of reformation. If I have not been exact, whilst I have called for exactness, your goodness knoweth as well how to connive at what is mine, as to embrace what is God's. Go on, right worthy patriots, still to defend your country, to contend for truth, to be willing to lose and be lost for Christ. Whilst I live, I shall live praying for you, and when I die, I hope I shall die praising God for you. Your humble servant in the gospel of Jesus Christ,
ZechARIAH 1. 18-21, 11. 1.
“ 18. Then lift I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns.
“ 19. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.
“ 20. And the Lord shewed me four carpenters. “ 21. Then said I, What come these to do? and he spake, saying,