« PrécédentContinuer »
And as God rewards grace with his own grace, so he rewards sin with its own likeness.
How else shall Sion rise, if Babylon do not fall? It is said, when the Lord exalteth the low tree, he bringeth down the high tree, then shall all the trees of the forest rejoice. God is making way to such a jubilee, therefore Babylon must fall, and that assuredly.
Those that are too big for themselves, and cannot manage their own greatness, must needs fall. Pride goes before a fall. It is the natural genius of Babylon to be proud and great, great and proud. Babel was at first built to affront providence, that the world might be no more drowned. Afterwards says that king, in Daniel, “ Is not this great Babylon that I have built for mine honour?” And, Rev. xviii., saith our late Babylon," I sit a queen,” &c. They have been great, and in their own eyes great, surely therefore their own weight shall sink them.
Must not those needs fall, that are set in dark and slippery places, whom the angel of the Lord drives? Now, if ever, the places of God's enemies are very slippery, themselves in the dark, and the angel of God driving them. Therefore they shall fall, and fall assuredly.
And if so, then learn we how to take notice of, and behold these great works of God concerning the fall of Babylon, as they fall out in our generation. It is in regard of the evil that comes to evil men, as in regard of the good that comes to the good. Now when the saints do receive any mercy, their hearts stick not in it, nor their eyes on it, but they see it lying under its relation, in relation to the word and promise, saying, It is indeed a great mercy that I have a house, and place to dwell in ; but God hath not only given me sweet habitation, but he hath given it me in the way of a promise, to perform the mercy promised. He hath given me wife, children, and friends, to perform the mercy promised. Nay, he hath given me Christ himself, to perform the mercy promised. Luke i. Thus they see all things lying under a promise in that relation. So also when ye see any judgment befal the enemies of God's church, you are not to look upon them as mere works of God, but to look upon them in their relations, in relation to the threatening, as lying under the threatening, and the fruits of it; and the reason hereof is
this especially, because otherwise you do not see the whole work of God, when you do see it before you. As it is said of Israel, “ Yet the Lord hath not given you eyes to see,” &c. Deut. xxix. 4.
As now suppose that a fool, a madman, or a beast should come into the congregation, though they should see the water of baptism, yet they would not see the sacrament, or half the sacrament, because they could not see it under its relation. Wherefore, my beloved, whenever you shall behold the hand of God upon the world, in the fall of Babylon, and his great works, that way, be sure that ye behold them under the relation, in relation to the Lord's threatening, and say: True, here is a Babylonish priest crying out, Alas, alas, my living! I have wife and children to maintain, and all is gone, my preferment is gone, my hope is gone, my place and office gone. But all this is to perform the judgment threatened. God threatened before, that he would “put it into the hearts of the princes of the earth, to eat her flesh and drink her blood," Rev. xvii. 16. Now it is in a great measure fulfilled, for her great revenues and rich livings are in part her flesh and blood. God said before, that “ her merchants should stand afar off weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great city,” Rev. xviii. Thus is the word of the Lord fulfilled, and God is faithful.
As the fall of Babylon is very certain, so it is the duty of the saints to speak of it as if it were done already.
We are bound to honour the faithfulness of God, more than the faithfulness of any other, because other things are faithful to us, as Salvian observes, because he is faithful. We expect cooling and cleansing from the water, and that is faithful. Why? For God is faithful, he bids it be faithful
We expect warmth and light from the fire, and that is faithful. Why? For God is faithful, he bids it be faithful to us.
In all these faithful creatures there is but a drop of God's faithfulness; and when they promise, we believe them: and shall we not believe Him, when he promises and when he threatens ? When a faithful friend promises,
it shall be ; but we are to honour God's faithfulness more, and therefore to speak of the thing promised or threatened, as if it were done already.
When we do but begin a good work, God speaks of it as
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. 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. Oh, 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 gar. ments lest he walk naked, and they see his shame," Rev. xvi. 15.
TO THE HONOURABLE THE KNIGHTS, CITIZENS AND Burgesses or 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 us 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 he cannot be said to hold it fast, or cleave unto it, till he meets with some that would take it from him, Deut. xiji, 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 cælorum 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 Pepinahs, 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