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it thus: Good courage is that gracious disposition of heart whereby a man, being called by God unto any service, doth adventure upon difficulties either in doing good or enduring evil, and that without fear.
Here are four or five things considerable in this description. First, Good courage is a gracious disposition. There is a moral boldness, and a natural audacity, and this is not good courage, for the former is in heathens, and the latter is in brute beasts. Job describes the horse after this manner : “ He rusheth into the battle, he laughs at the trumpet, and his neck is clothed with thunder," chap. xxxix. This brute beasts may have, and therefore this is not the virtue I press upon you.
Again, There is a sinful desperateness whereby men are apt and ready to rush upon all that is evil, and are sinfully bold, and they think him a fool or a child that will not drink, and be drunk, and whore, and run into all kind of evil : this is not good courage. David, he was as valiant as any one of them, as ever the earth bare, and yet, notwithstanding, in the matter of sin he was very timorous.* Surely good courage is such a flower as grows upon a good conscience: a man, in truth, hath so much good courage as he hath a good conscience; and it that a man shall desperately run upon what is evil and sinful, his courage does degenerate into a foolish desperateness. “Wait on the Lord (saith the psalmist) and be of good courage; and again, I say, wait on the Lord.” Good courage is hemmed in with waiting upon the Lord.
Again, There is a vaunting, bragging, boasting cavalierism which hath no true courage. Such a cavalier was Rabshakah, who said, “ With us is valour and courage;" when he defied the hosts and servants of the living God. Good courage is the health of the mind; this vaunting, bragging, boasting is the swelling of the mind, not courage.
Again, There is a fierce, angry, revengeful disposition,
* Fortitudo justorum est carnem vincere, propiis voluptatibus contraire delectationem vitiæ præsentis extinguere, hujusmodi aspera pro æternis præmiis amare, prosperitatis blandimenta contemnere, adversitatis malum in corde superare; reproborum vero fortitudo est transitoria sine cessatione diligere, contra flagella conditionis insensibiliter perdurare, bonorum vitam non solum verbis et moribus, sed etiam gladiis impugnare, in semetipsis spem ponere et iniquitatem quotidie sine ullo desiderii defectu perpetrare.--Greg. Moral. lib. 3. † Tumor animi non est magnanimitas.- Seneca.
whereby men are ready to run upon cruelties: this is no good courage. “ The righteous is as bold as a lion.” The lion himself is merciful, not revengeful; if a creature lies down before him he will spare it.* I remember a story one hath concerning Malcolm, a king of the Scots. It seems there was one of his nobles who underhand conspired his death. The king having notice of it, he chose a day to go a hunting, and called many of his nobles to go with him, and amongst the rest he calls this courtier that was working of his death; and when they were in the field, he singles him from all the rest, bids them go on with their game, he had something to speak to him alone : saith he, I hear you are, underhand, working of my death: if you put poison into my cup, a woman may
do that; if you set upon me with a company of rascals, thieves may do that; if you will put me to death, do it as a soldier, I will take my sword, take you your's, we will fight it out. The man fell down before him, and the king pardoned him, and gained him ever after to be his own.t This was true courage, but a fiery, cruel disposition is no good courage; courage is a gracious disposition.
It is a gracious disposition of heart. The heart, properly, is the natural element of courage, and therefore some do derive the word courage, so; courage, quasi cor agit, it is an action or motion of the heart. The truth is, the heart of man is the artillery yard where all the thoughts of courage train continually.
Again, I say, whereby a man being called by God unto any service. God's call is the ground of a christian's courage. This was pretended in Rabshakah's speech; “ Hath not the Lord sent me?" And this was, in truth, the ground of Joshua's courage : “ Be of good courage, have not I com
" Leonum clementiæ multa indicia sunt, prostratis pareunt, in virus potius quam in fæminas sæviunt, infantes non nisi in magna fame perimunt.-Solinus.
+ Si igitur animus tibi sit, si valeas, si audeas, absolve quod propofuisti, redde hostibus meis et sociis fuis quod promisisti : si me occidere stat animus, quando rectius, quando secretius, quando virilius ? venenum parasti ? mulierculis id relinqnito, tortulo insidiaris ? hoc et adulteræ possunt? ferro ex insidiis me aggredi decrevisti ? hoc sicarii et non militis est officium, solus cum solo congredere, ut saltem prodito tua turpitudine careat, quæ per fidia carere non potest. Miles autem hæc audiens mox verbis regis quasi gravi per cussus fulmine ad pedes regios cum lachrymis et tremore cucurrit: cui rex noli timere (inquit) quod nihil a me patieris ; cumque ei de cætero se fidelem amicum futurum promisisset, revertunter ad socios, hihil pænitns referentes.-Mat. Paris, p. 21, Hist. Willil. 21.
manded thee?" If a man ventures upon any design, and God's call doth not lead him to it, when he comes to make good his standing, the ground quakes under him, his heart trembles, his knees knock, his arms shake, and his heels begin to run. When a man is called to do a work by God, though the opposition and difficulty be never so great, he may encourage himself here; but I am called by God, and he will carry me through.
Again, I say, whereby a man being called by God unto any service does venture upon difficulties, either in doing good or enduring evil. One would think that it were a desperate venture, but indeed a brave venture, of the men of Jabesh Gilead which we read of i Sam. xxxi., which fetched away the dead body of Saul out of the hands of the Philistines. There being a great fight between the Israelites and the Philistines, the Philistines had the best of it, kept the field and buried the dead; and amongst the dead they find Saul, they cut off his head and fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan. And when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard of it, all the valiant men arose, and went and took the body of Saul from the wall of Bethshan. Here was valour, here was courage. Wherein was it seen? In venturing upon difficulties in doing good and enduring evil.
I add, All this must be done without fear: and therefore in Scripture these go together: “Be of good courage; fear not, neither be dismayed.” The more a man's fears are enlarged, the more his courage is lessened; and the more a man's courage is enlarged, the more his fears are lessened. Good courage, it makes a man higher by the head and shoulders than the thing feared, though never so great : good courage lifts a man up above fear. Put all together and you have the description of good courage. It is that gracious disposition of heart whereby a man, being called by God unto any service, he does adventure upon difficulties, either in doing good or enduring evil, and that without fear. Let us now advance to the second thing, the confirmation of the point.
Secondly, In evil times, in times of danger, good courage is very requisite. In times of danger good courage is the strength of a man, it is the spirits of a man, it is the sparkling of a man's heart, it is the life of one's life. Saith Solomon, “ The spirit of a man shall sustain his infirmity.”
Without strength there is no bearing of burthens. Now this is the way to be strong, to stand under burthens in evil times : “ Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.”
Again, Evil times are full of changes, and good courage will keep us from the power of those. It is a good speech Seneca hath : He is a stout man whom adversity doth not quail; he is yet more stout whom prosperity doth not allure; but he is most stout of all whom the change of things doth not disturb.* And in another place, saith he, He hath no great mind that can be bent by injuries. And evil times are full of injuries. Without courage a man will easily be bent by them; bent unto sin and bent unto what is evil. Had not the three children been men of courage, how would they have been bent to idolatry; but being men of courage, say they, “ Our God is able to deliver us; but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods," Dan. iii. 17, 18. Oh, my beloved, in evil times good courage keeps us from evil bending, and therefore in evil times good courage is very requisite.
Again, Evil times are very expensive. Then a man shall be called to lay out much ; his estate, his house, his liberty, his body, his all: and no affection, no disposition so spending as courage; good courage will make a man spend and be spent for God. But if a man should expend and lay out all upon other things, they will not be able to quit charges. Good courage will make a man spend all on God, and be spent for God, as Paul was. Thus you see that in evil times good courage is very requisite.
Thirdly, If this be so, you see what our duty is; to be of "good courage,and play the men.” You all know into what evil times we are now fallen, better than I can speak: are we not berounded with many enemies, the Syrians before and the Ammonites behind; if Joab were alive he could see the battle before and behind. In the prophet's time, he prayed “ that God would open the eyes of his servant that he might see who were with him ;” now we had need to pray that God would open
men's eyes to see who are against them : certainly enemies are amongst us, within and without, at home and
* Fortis est quem adversa non frangunt fortier est quem prospera non alliciunt, fortissimus est quem vicissitudo rerum non deturbar.–Seneca.
† Magnus animus est quem non incurvat injuria.–Seneca.
abroad, before and behind, they are very many. Now the people of God are in danger, now the cities of God and religion is in hazard; and therefore, as Joab once, so now I may speak unto all, “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God, and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.” Be of good courage. That is my exhortation; notwithstanding the times be evil, yet be of good courage. Good courage now if ever is requisite; requisite for magistrates, requisite for ministers, requisite for parents and governors of families, requisite for these gentlemen that have listed their names for this great service of God and their country, requisite for all the people.
Requisite for magistrates. Good courage is always in a magistrate's commission; though times be never so peaceable they are to be men of courage, fearing God, much more in troublous times. Good courage is a virtue annexed to their place; and therefore as injustice from the hand of a judge is worse than from any other, because there is a special repugnancy between him and the sin ;* so want of courage and neutralizing in a magistrate is worse than in others, because good courage is always annexed to his place.
Ministers, they must be of good courage. We read of divers valiant men, 2 Chron, xxvi. 17, 18, who withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, “ It pertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord,” &c. You may see who they were in the 17th verse : “ Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord that were valiant men.” Wherein did their valour appear? In that they withstood the king in doing that which was unlawful.
These were valiant priests indeed, and it stands upon record, and that for ever. In times nearer to ourselves, we read of Dr. Latimer, that when the men of his order were to send new year's gifts unto the king, he sent a Bible with this posey written on the outside thereof: “ Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Was not Mr. Deering very bold with Queen Elizabeth, who told her, that though she once went, tanquam ovis ad lanienam, as a sheep to the slaughter; yet now, tanquam indomiter juvenca, as an untamed heifer. In evil times the ordnance and murthering pieces are planted against the house of the ministers,
* Peccatum majus ubi repugnantia major inter peccantem et peccatum.-Aquin.