Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

vate men's occasions void of some movings of quarrels or change, The public state is or should be as the earth, a great and solid body, whose chief praise is settledness and consistence. Now, therefore, when public stirs and tumults arise in a well ordered Church or Commonwealth, the State is out of the socket: or, when common calamities of war, famine, pestilence seize upon it; then, the hearts of men quake and shiver within them; then, is our prophet's earthquake, which is here spoken of: Thou hast made the earth to tremble.

1. To begin with the PASSIVE MOTIONS, OF PUBLIC CALAMITIES; they are the shakings of our earth. So God intends them: so must we account them, and make use of them accordingly. What are we, I mean all the visible part of us, but a piece of earth? Besides, therefore, that magnetical virtue, which is operative upon all the parts of it, why should or can a piece stand still, when the whole moveth?

Denominations are wont to be, not from the greater, but the better part; and the best part of this earthen world is man: and, therefore, when men are moved, we say the earth is so; and, when the earth iu a generality is thus moved, good reason we should be so also. We must tremble, therefore, when God makes the earth to do so. What shall we say then to those obdured hearts, which are no whit affected with public evils? Surely, he were a bold man, that could sleep, while the earth rocks him; and so were he, that could give himself to a stupid security, when he feels any vehement concussations of government, or public hand of God's afflictive judgment. But it falls out too usually, that, as the philosopher said in matter of affairs, so it is in matter of calamities,‘Communia negliguntur. Men are like Jonas in the storm, sleep it out, though it mainly concern them: surely, besides that we are men, bound up each in his own skin, we are limbs of a community; and that body is no less entire and consistent of all his members, than this natural : and no less sensible should we be of any evil that afflicts it, If but the least toe do ache, the head feels it; but, if the whole body be in pain, much more do both head and feet feel it. Tell me, can it be, that, in a common earthquake, any house can be free; or, is the danger less, because the neighbours' roofs rattle also? Yet, too many men, because they suffer not alone, neither are singled out for vengeance, are insensible of God's hand: surely, such men, as cannot be shaken with God's judgment, are fit for the centre, the lowest parts of the earth, where there is a constant and eternal unrest; not for the surface of it, which looks towards a beaven, where are interchanges of good and evil.

It is notable and pregnant, which the prophet Isaiah hath: hear it, all ye secure hearts, and tremble. In that day did the Lord of Hosts call to weeping, and mourning, and baldness, and girding with sackcloth ; and, behold, joy and gladness, slaying of oxen, and killing of sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine. And what of that? Surely, this iniquity shall not be purged till you die, saith the Lord God of Hosts." What shall we say to this, Honourable and Beloved

Wherefore hath God given us his good creatures, but that we should enjoy them? Doth not Solomon tell us, there is nothing better than that a man should eat, and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labour ? Eccl. ii. 24. And why is God so incensed against Israel for doing what he allows them? Know then, that it is not the act, but the time, that God stands upon. Very unseasonableness is criminal: here and now, comforts are sins: to be jovial, when God calls to mourning; to glut our maw, when he calls to fasting; to glitter, when he would have us sackclothed and squalid; he hates it to the death: here we may say with Solomon, Of laughter thou art mad, and of mirth what is this thou doest? He grudges not our moderate and seasonable jollities: there is an Ope-tide by his allowance, as well as a Lent. Go thy ways: eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, for now God accepteth thy work. Lo, God's acceptation is warrant enough for our mirth. Now, may his saints rejoice and sing; but there is a time to mourn, and a time to dance. It was a strange word, that God had to the prophet Ezekiel, That he would take away from him his wife, the comfort of his life, and yet he must not mourn: but, surely, when he but threats to take away from us the public comforts of our peace and common welfare, he would have us weep out our eyes; and doth no less hate that our hearts should be quiet within us, than he hates that we should give him so just cause of our disquiet. Here the prophet can cry out, Quis dabit capiti meo aquas ? And how doth the mournful prophet now pour out himself into Lamentations ; How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Sion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven to the earth the beauty of Israel ! Lam. ii. 1. Oh, that our hearts could rive in sunder, at but the dangers of those public judgments, which we have too well deserved, and be less sensible of our private concernments! then should we make a right use of that dreadful hand of God, of whom our prophet here, Thou hast made the earth to tremble.

2. This for the Passive earthquake of Public Calamities: now for the ACTIVE, OF PUBLIC STIRS AND TUMULTS: with these the land is moved too: and this quaking is so much more unnatural, for that men are here the immediate troublers of themselves; whereas, in the other, they are moved by the immediate hand of God.

And here, alas, what shall we say to those men, that take pleasure in the embroiling of states ? that, with Nero, can sing to see the city on fire? that love to dance upon a quaking earth? yea, that affect to be actors in these unkindly motitations ? That great mathematician braggart could vainly say, “Give me a place where to set my foot, and I will move the earth.” That, which that proud engineer would do by art, these men will do by wickedness: that, and more; for they will be moving that earth, which they cannot but tread upon.

I remember Georgias Agricola, who when I was a young man was noted for the most accurate observer of these under-ground se. crets of nature, tells us, most probably, that the secondary and immediate cause of an earthquake is a certain subterraneous fire; kindled of some sulphureous matter within the bowels of that vast body, and increased by the resistance of the ambient coldness: the passages whereof being precluded and blocked up by the solid and cold matter of the earth, it

rages

and roars within those dark hol. lows; and, by the violence of it, as murmuring to be thus forcibly imprisoned, shakes the parts about it; and, at last, makes way by some dreadful Vesuvian-like eruption. Such is the mis-kindled heat of some vehement spirits: this, when it lights upon some earthy, proud, sullen, headstrong disposition, and finds itself crossed by an authoritative resistance, grows desperately unruly ; and, in a mad indignation to be suppressed, is ready to shake the very foundations of government; and, at last, breaks forth into some dangerous rupture, whether in Church or State.

Let no man think I intend to strike at a wise, holy, well-governed zeal: no; I hug this in my bosom, as the lively temper of grace, as the very vital spirits of religion: I wish there were more of that in the world: I speak of the unruly distempers of male-contented persons; and of the furies of Anabaptism and Separation. Let such men think what they will of themselves, Solomon has past his doom upon them; Prov. vi. 14: Homo nequam miscet contentiones; as Tremellius turns it: He is no better than a wicked inan that hatcheth divisions. However they may slight this contentious humour, I dare confidently say, a private murderer shall make an easier answer, than a public disturber. Even apostolical charity can wish, Would to God they were cut off that trouble you. And, more than So,

whereas they would not be more stirring than their neighbours, if they did not think themselves wiser; he, that is wiser than they, gives them their own: It is an honour for a man to cease from strife, but every fool will be meddling; Prov. xx, 3,

So then, a quarrelsome man in a parish, especially if he have gotten a little smattering of law, is like a cholic in the guts; that tears, and wrings, and torments a whole township: but a Seditionary in a State, or a Schismatic in the Church, is like a sulphureous fiery vapour in the bowels of the earth, able to make that stable ele. ment reel again ; worse than that monster of tyrants, who could say, èus Gevovlás yaite uíxonio Tupí; “ When I am dead, let earth and fire jumble together:" but this man says èus zwvlós; “Let me live" to see the earth totter, and with that shaking torn and divided : which is the usual effect of the earthquake, and the second head of our intended discourse; Thou hast broken, or divided it.

II. I come not hither to astonish you, with the relation of the fearful EFFECTS, which earthquakes have produced in all ages: as it were easy to do, out of histories and philosophical discourses; where you may see rocks torn in pieces, mountains not cast down only but removed, hills raised not out of vallies only but out of seas, fires breaking out of waters, stones and cinders belched up, rivers changed, seas dislodged, earth opening, towns swallowed

other such hideous events; of which kind, our own memory can furnish us with too many at home; although these colder climates are more rarely infested with such affrightful acci. dents. It is more properly in my way, to shew you the parallel ef. fects of the distempers and calamities in States and Churches.

many

up, and

1. To begin, therefore, with the ACTIVE BREACHES.

Whom should I rather instance in, than that woeful heart-burning of Korah the son of Levi, and of Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Reuben? No sooner were they enflamed with an envious rage against Moses and Aaron, than two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, rise up in the mutiny against their governors: and these draw with them all the congregation of Israel to the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. What is the issue? After Moses his proclamation, the people withdraws from their tents; the earth opens her mouth; swallows up Korah and his company, with all that pertained to them; and they go down quick into the pit. What a shriek do you think there was, when they found themselves sinking into that dreadful gulf! As for the two hundred and fifty Reubenites, fire came out from the Lord and consumed them, Lo, the two terrible effects even of material earthquakes, opening and burning, which we shall find spiritually happening in all commotions of this nature.

Look at the rebellion of Jeroboam: the male-contented multitude, when their petition speeds not, cries out, What portion have we in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse : 10 your tents, O Israel : look to thine own house, David. What was the effect? Israel departed to their tents: only Judah stuck to Rehoboam: there is the division. The stones fly about the ears of Adoram, and become his sudden tomb; and drive their Liege Sovereign to his cbariot: there is the fire of violence,

So, upon the harsh proceeding of Innocent the IVth against Fre, derick the Emperor; Marima partialitas populorum subsecuta est, as Tritemius tells us. There was such a division of the people, as lasted, in the computation of that author, no less than two hundred and sixty years; not without the effusion of much blood : those, which took the Pope's part were called Guelfes; those, which took the Emperor's, Gibellines. Here was péya xáopice indeed, with this Roman earthquake.

What should I overlay you with instances? Will ye see the like effects in the Church? I could tell you of those Eastern earthquakes, caused by the Arians, Donatists, Circumcellians; of those of Provence, and the bordering parts, wherein so many thousand honest and inoffensive Albigenses were overwhelmed. I could tell you of the Parisian massacres, and many other such tragical acts. Take that one, whereof Binius himself can tell you; Pope Urban the VIth, coming to his episcopal chair, would be correcting the loose manners of the Cardinals: they, impatient of his reformation, flew out to Anagina; chose and set up another for an anti-pope, Clement VIIth: and, thereupon, perniciosissimum schisma, " a most pernicious schism," arose; which could not be stinted of thirty-six years, or, as Fasciculus Temporum says, of forty years: in all which time, saith he, even the most learned and conscientious men knew not, who was the true Bishop of Rome; cum gravi scandalo totius Cleri,

et grandi jacturâ animarum. In the mean time, what woeful work, do you think there was! what discontented murmurs! what roaring of Bulls! what flashes of reciprocal anathemas! what furious sidetakings! what plots! what bloodsheds !

Here, at home, what deadly divisions have our intestine earthquakes brought forth! How have whole fields, whole countries, been swallowed up, with the unhappily raised Barons' Wars; with the fatal quarrels of the Two Roses! Blessed be God, our land hath had rest for many years, ever since that happy and auspicious union; and blessings and peace be ever upon that gracious head and royal line, in whom they are united! I say we have had a long and happy peace, although perhaps it is no thank to somebody: for, had that sulphureous mine taken fire, as it was very near it, this State, in all likelihood, had not been shaken only, but quite blown up: those goodly piles, and therein the monuments of ancient kings, had been, together with the yet stirring limbs of dying princes, buried in their own ruin and rubbish: Deus omen.

It is a dangerous thing, Honourable and Beloved, for a man to give way to a secret discontentment, or to the first offers of sedition. Curse not the king, no not in thy thought: curse not the rich, in thy bed-chamber; Eccl. x. 20. That great lawyer said well, If treason could be discovered but in the heart, it were worthy to be punished with death: for, however slight and force-less these beginnings may seem, they bring forth, at last, no less than public distraction and utter subversion. What a poor despicable begin. ning had the Scirifii, two brothers in Barbary, who desired nothing of their father but a drum and an ensign; but with them they made shift to over-run the two kingdoms of Fez and Morocco! What a small snow-ball was that, which cursed Mahomet began to roll; which since hath covered all the vallies, yea and mountains of the east! What a poor matter is a spark lighting on the tinder, and yielding a dim blue light upon the match? yet, if once it hath lighted the candle, it soon kindles a fire able to burn a world. Yea, what can be less considerable than a little warm vapour, fuming up in some obscure cell of the earth? Had it had but the least breathing out, it had vanished alone without noise or notice: but now the inclosure heightens the heat, and the resisting cold doubles it; and now, it having gathered head, grows so unruly, that it makes the earth to tremble at the fury of it, and tears up rocks and mountains before it, in making vent for itself

. Of this nature is a mutinous spirit: he needs no other incentive, than his own disposition; and, by that alone, enraged with opposition, is able to infame a world. So wise Solomon: As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife; Prov. xxvi. 21.

It hath been always, therefore, the wisdom of Churches and States, by an early suppression to prevent the gathering of these hot and headstrong vapours; by the power of good laws, by careful executions: and so they must do still, if they desire to have peace. If we would have our earth stand still, we must not stand still; but most seasonably, with all speedy vigilancy, disperse those unquiet and turbulent fumes, which rise up in it.

« PrécédentContinuer »