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never any was in such a condition as I; what, driven from my houses and from my friends? Yes, Abraham; yes, Jacob; yes, Joseph; yes, David; yes, Daniel ; yes, John, And Luther saith, as usually he doth speak boldly, This is the common chance and fortune of the gospel.* The very
land of Canaan, the place of God's people is called by such a term as doth signify a land of beauty or comeliness, and a land of hinds,* or roes, or harts, that are swift in going, and of a flying nature, to shew, say some, that when God's people are in the most beautiful state, it is but a flying, moving state, &c. Yet when they are so, they are notwithstanding a delight unto God himself. Think, therefore, with yourself, There is no new thing befallen me.
Consider the way that God takes ordinarily to bring his people to mercy. He seldom brings them to any mercy but he brings them about by the way of the contrary misery. If he intends to give them a sure peace, he will bring them about unto it by the way of war; so he brought Israel to Canaan, the land of rest, through much war. If he brings them to riches, he will bring them about by the way of poverty, as with Job. If he intends a kingdom to them, he will bring them by a wilderness, as with David. If a sure habitation, he will suffer a man to be driven from his habitation.* And therefore when you are driven from your's, despair not, but say, Ah, this is God's way, now am I in God's way to a sure habitation.
Consider seriously with yourselves what that is which you leave, what the cause is that you do leave it for, and who it is you do leave it with: you leave your house, your habitation, your land, your riches, which shortly would leave you, whose wings are like the wings of an eagle, strong to fly away; you leave it for your God, your country, your religion. And is that lost which you do lose for truth? Is there any loss in losing for Jesus Christ? And with him you leave it, who is a faithful paymaster, and will pay you forbearance money
* Hic mos hæc fortuna evangelii.-Luther in Ezek. \x. 6. of Hic enim '28 usurpatur sæpius existimo spiritum consulto vocabulum hoc adhibuisse quo complecteretur utrumque de pulsionem et fælicitatem ne desponderent ejus cives animos sed in media sua tristissima abdicatione se esse Deo 28 cordi et deliciis.—Brightman in Dan. p. 22.
* Si enim non impense te deligeret Deus non ita tecum luderet hoc est non differet neque in contrarium disponeret suam promissionem et auxilium.-Luther.
also. Did he not pay Ruth well all that ever she did leave for him; mark but that one example of Naomi and Ruth: Naomi being in Israel, where the ordinances were, and there coming a time of famine, she left all to go into the land of Moab, and the text tells us (Ruth i.) she went for bread. If you inquire what became of her, you shall find she returns empty, bitter: “Call me not Naomi, call me bitter, for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” Her daughter Ruth, on the contrary left her country, Moab, to go to the place of God's ordinances; and when she came into Israel she was so poor, at the first, that she was fain to glean for her living, yet contented; and after a while the Lord provided a husband for her, the richest man in all the country, Boaz. The moral of this example is this : those that will leave the ordinances and way of God's true worship for bread, shall return home empty and full of bitterness; yea, though they be good people: but those that will leave their own places and habitations and friends to go unto the place of God's ordinance, though they be put to a gleaning condition at first, yet the Lord, in his providence, in his due time, will make them exceeding rich and very wealthy. Consider, therefore, when you are in this estate, what is that you leave, why, and with whom you leave it, even with Ruth's paymaster, who is as good a paymaster now as he was to Ruth.
If you would have comfort and supportance in that condition, consider seriously and much how God hath dealt with his people that have been thus served and used. And if you look into Scripture, you shall find that he still hath provided for them, given them favour in the places where they have come, and brought them back again from those places into which they have been scattered. He hath provided for them. Did not God provide for Jacob when he was driven out of his father's house by his rough brother Esau? Says Jacob, “ I passed over this brook with this staff and rod, and now I am returned with two bands.” When at the first he went out and took up his lodging in the cold fields the first night, lying upon a stone for his pillow, as the Scripture speaks, there the Lord appeared to him in a vision, and shewed him a ladder, with angels ascending and descending upon it, which is interpreted by Christ to be Christ himself, in John i. 51. And so if it should ever be your portion to be driven out by
your rough brethren Esaus, though you lie in the cold fields, God will there shew you this ladder. It is observed that our Saviour Christ sent out his disciples twice; the first time he commands them to take no money, nor sword, nor scrip, and then, upon account, they said they wanted nothing: afterward he sent them out again, and said unto them, “ Now let him that hath a sword take it, and he that hath a coat take it;" then they met with more suffering than we read of before, teaching thus much, that God will then more fully provide for his people when they are purseless, scripless, swordless, and in the most shiftless condition. Besides, the Lord gave them favour in the eyes of the people in the places where they came.
Had not Abraham favour, and Joseph favour, and Moses favour? David favour in the eyes of the king of Achish, Nehemiah favour, Ezra favour, and others of his people favour in the places into which they were driven ? And if you look into the xxxivth of Ezekiel, you shall find that when God's people were by the proud prelates of those times abused, the Lord promised to gather them from those places into which they were scattered. First he complaineth of the proud prelates that they would not gather them: verse 4, 66 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound
that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost, but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” Then he promiseth that he would do it himself: verse 13, “ I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers,” &c. This he did, this he doth, this he will do. If my people would but think of these things, they would never stick with God for their houses and liberties when the profession of his truth doth call for them. Think of it, therefore, seriously, it will bc exceeding helpful to you now, and comfortable then.
In such a condition God hath always provided for his people, given them favour, and in due time gathered them to their own place again; and he is the same God now that ever
would have comfort and be supported in that estate, put yourselves often to these disjunctions. Either I am one
of God's family and household servants or not; if not, why do I not mourn rather that I am none of God's house, than that I have lost mine own house ? and if I be, will not God provide for his own family? Men provide for their families, God will much more. Again, thus, either God doth take care of a man or woman in this condition or not; if not, what mean those frequent charges in Scripture upon men to pity, to respect, to care for, to entertain the stranger? and if God do take care, and that by promise, why should not I believe it, go away, and be very quiet? Again, thus, either there is grace in me or not; if not, why do I not rather mourn for want of grace than want of house; for want of Christ than the want of liberty: if there be grace in me, surely it is not in the power of men to make me miserable. Seneca, though a heathen, speaks divinely to this purpose : A man's country is wherever he is well, but that whereby he is well is not in the place but in the man.* The whole world is a christian's country. And says another author: The blood of Christ knows no nations ;t all are alike to him. Indeed when the child or boy hath gotten a long pole, he thinks to go up to the top of such a mountain and there to touch the heavens ; and when he comes there, he sees he is never the nearer; then he thinks to run to the top of the next mountain, and then he will touch them surely, but when he comes there he is as far distant as before: so men think to get such and such a mountainous estate, and when they are at the top of that mountain they shall touch the heavens, or when they are in such and such a place they shall be nearer heaven; but heaven may be as near one place as another. “ The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." The prophet doth not say that England is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; London is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; Norfolk is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; Yorkshire is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; no, but he saith, “ The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof."
Chrysostom I speaks excellently to this argument, who, being to be banished, in his parting sermon to his people, saith
* Patria est ubicunque bene est illud cunctam per quod bene est in homine non in loco est.-Seneca.
of Sanguis Christi non novit rationes. # Chrysostom de exilio illius, tom iv.
thus : What should I fear?. Shall I fear death ? -" To me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Shall I fear banishment?66 The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.” Shall I fear the loss of mine estate ? _“I brought nothing into this world, neither can I carry any thing out of it.” Shall I fear poverty ?-I never desired to be rich. Shall I fear the misery and wasting and spoiling of the churches, part whereof i am now to leave ?-The church is greater, saith he, than heaven and earth. Christ never said, the gates of hell should not prevail against the heavens or the earth, as he hath said for the churches. Christ never took upon him the body of the heavens as he hath done of the church's. The church, it is the ship wherein Christ is; and though the waves arise, and storms beat, they shall never be able to sink the ship, yea, though Christ himself doth seem to sleep. Often, often therefore, my beloved, put thyself unto this disjunction : Either I am in the ship with Christ or else I am not; he in me and I in him, or else not: if not, why do I not rather mourn that I am not in Christ than that I am not in
my house? and if I be in him, surely he will be exceeding careful and very
tender. Oh that men and women would but think of these things, surely they would be quiet, patient, if not joyful in that condition. Think of them, therefore, and lay them up by you.
But I shall never be able to bear this affliction. What, to be driven from
house! If I meet with any cross now in my family, I cannot bear it, how shall I be able to be thrust and driven out of all, and that with patience ?
You do not know what you shall be able to do in that condition. Seneca tells us a story of one Marcellus, that being in banishment behaved himself so virtuously, that when a man was to part from him, he that parted from this banished man would rather count himself unhappy and the banished man, than he that was indeed so.* Dabitur in hora, God giveth more grace if need be, saith the apostle.
But when you know that parents bear with their childrens' frowardness in weaning times; and though they cry, and are more froward than ordinary, yet the parent excuseth it, and says, It is weaning time, it is weaning time. Now if God
* Quantus ille vir fuit qui efficit et aliquis exul sibi videretur quod ab exule recedebat.Seneca.