Images de page
PDF
ePub

seek him, but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him : so we fasted and besought our God for this, and he was intreated of us." Mark, fasting and prayer was their convoy; oh, beloved, what will not fasting and prayer do, when we are beset with divers enemies? there must be these two, the slacking of these make a stop. As for prayer, first, you know how it was with the Israelites when they fought against Amalek, when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, when he let fall his hand, Amalek prevailed; slacking in prayer made a stop. And so likewise for humiliation; there are two things that are opposite to that, which makes a stop: spiritual pride, and also nice curiosity concerning the means of grace. Spiritual pride makes a stop. Paul was caught up into the third heaven, and had great revelations; but lest he should be proud, and a stop should be made in that mercy, a messenger of Satan is sent to buffet him. It is recorded of a Frenchman having read excellent lectures of divinity, some of his auditors came to him and desired him that he would print them, he was so puffed up withal; as he broke out into this blasphemy: Lord Jesus, how art thou beholden to me! If I had turned my wits against thee, how much hurt could I have done thee! whereupon he was stricken with such blindness, ignorance, and dulness, that afterwards he was two years learning the Lord's prayer; this I speak to shew what a stoppage, spiritual pride will make.

And for curious niceness about the means of grace, 1 Sam. vi. The ark being in the hands and country of the Philistines, they sent it back, and so the ark returning, God was returning; but at the 19th verse, the Lord smote of the people fifty thousand three score and ten men, why? because they had looked into the ark of the Lord : their foolish niceness and curiosity about the ark, what a stoppage it made in the way of mercy! It is recorded by historians, that before the great massacre in France, the protestants were grown so curious about preaching, that no preaching would down with them, but acute sententious preaching. Beloved, both these are opposite to humiliation; and where these two, humiliation falls, and prayer slacks, there is a stoppage made, then will the Lord say to mercy, Stand, go no farther. For the present, God be thanked, there is a day

VOL. IV.

F

of humiliation, and a spirit of prayer up in the field, but when of late the enemies began to fall, how did men leave off prayer, and began to insult over the enemies; the Lord saw this, and therefore a stoppage was made in England's mercy.

An unthankful receiving of the mercies that God hath given us, and a slight beholding of the great works he hath done before us now lately, is another sin that hath made a stoppage in our mercy. It is said, Ps. cvi. 7, concerning the Israelites, “ Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the sea, even the Red sea ;" there lies the emphasis, at the sea, even the Red sea that God carried them through. So you have a notable place for this purpose, Hosea ix. 14, 15, “Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts,” they shall conceive, mercy shall be begun, but it shall not bring furth, why? at verse 15, “All their wickedness is in Gilgal :" why, how was all their wickedness in Gilgal ? they had much wickedness in other places: but the meaning is, Gilgal was the first place they went into when they went into Canaan, and there they were circumcised, and there the Lord rolled away their reproach, and therefore it was called Gilgal; now to sin in Gilgal, in that place where the Lord had done so much for them, though they sinned in other places, yet the sin there was so great, as if all the sin were there, because that was a place of special mercy; “ for there I hated them, for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more ;" there is a stoppage made in mercy, when sin is in Gilgal, in the place of such and such mercy. So, my beloved, you all know what great things the Lord hath done for this place, you were brought exceeding low, into great straits, oh, poor afflicted distressed England; but in the midst of all your troubles and fears, the Lord created a parliament for you, and delivered you with great deliverances; and if after all this you will go on in the way of sin, and thanklessly regard all that God hath done, this provokes God to make a stop. Mark how Ezra reasons for this purpose, Ezra ix., they had committed a great sin in taking of the daughters of the country to themselves to wife, verse 10: “And now, oh, our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments," Ezra xiii., “and after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our trespass; seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance

this:" see where the emphasis lies, not deliverance only, but such deliverance : “should we again break

: thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations ? Wouldst thou not be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping ?” Now, my beloved, you see where he sets the emphasis, and truly have not we this word, such, written upon our deliverances; you vere oppressed in your estates, and you are delivered from those manifold oppressions; you were oppressed in your consciences by the inventions of men, and you are delivered from those heavy oppressions in a great measure; you were in great danger to have lain in blood, you and your children, and you were delivered from that bloody war with Scotland; and your parliament worthies of late, delivered from a hellish conspiracy, I had almost said as bad as that of the powder plot: and now I say, after such deliverances, if you will go on still in the way of sinning, how just is it with God to say, 0 England, I thought to have done thee good, and to have built thee, but because he that was a drunkard before, is a drunkard still ; he that was a swearer before, is a swearer still; he that was a sabbath-breaker before, a liar, and unclean person before, is so still: therefore I will now unkingdom thee, and unchurch thee; if after such mercies and such deliverance you shall go on in a way of sin, I will make a stop in mercy, and in all the good I thought to do; this hath made a stop in our England's mercies.

The last sin that makes a stop in England's mercy, is a worldly disposition, whereby a man hangs back unto the great work of God, and the glorious reformation that is now a doing. You know that when they came out of Babylon, and were to build the temple, the people were for their ceiled houses, and the temple went not on so long as they stuck to their cieled houses, but when once they were brought off from their cieled houses, the temple was built, and they settled. So now, the Lord is about to rebuild you, and build a temple among you ; if our hearts be after our cieled houses,

a

how just is it with God to say, I thought to do you good, but you will not be at the cost; I know you would have your brethren in Ireland delivered, but you will not be at the cost, you that are rich will not lend twenty, or thirty, or a hundred pounds towards it; I thought to have gone on and purged the whole kingdom, but you will not be at the cost, you would have the pictures out of your windows, but you are loth to be at the cost to buy new glass; you would have preaching ministers in every congregation, but you are loth to be at the charge; this makes a stop in our England's mercy. Thus I have to my poor ability shewed you the seven sins that make a stop in the Lord's proceedings of mercy; the Lord grant we may lay them to heart, and be humbled for them.

We grant these are the sins that do make a stop in England's mercy, and the Lord is gone out of the way of mercy, and is angry: how shall we open a way to England's mercy, how shall we bring God back again, and how may the Lord's anger be appeased ?

In answer to this, I shall shew you it is a hard thing to appease God's

anger when it is gone out. It must be done, and that quickly. I shall shew you what you shall do, that you may do it.

Therefore it is an exceeding hard thing and very difficult to appease God's anger. God's anger is compared to a stream;

a Tophet is prepared of old for the king (saith the text) and out of his mouth goes a stream of fire.” It is hard to turn a stream, you may easily turn the water when it is in the gutter before it comes into the stream, but when it is gotten into the river, it is hard turning of it; God's wrath is a stream, it is hard turning of it.

When you do solicit God to turn out of the way of his wrath, and turn into a way of mercy, you solicit him to that which is not for his ease, that is a burthen to him. Though you think you have great interest in a man, if you solicit

, him to that which is not for his ease, you will hardly obtain : now God says in Scripture, it is an ease to him to be avenged on his adversaries; ah, “ I will ease myself of myself of my adversaries :" when you turn him from wrath, you turn him from ease.

Again, there are but few to do it. If the sea break over

a

the banks, and there are but few to stop it, it is hard to do; if fire hath taken two or three houses in a street, and but few to quench it, it is hard to do: the fire of God's anger is broken out, and there are but few to quench it: it is a hard thing, therefore.

Again, God seems to be engaged in the way of his wrath. God walks according to his word. Now, says God, you would have me return again to the way of my mercy, and leave off mine anger, and for this purpose you

tell me you do pray

and humble yourselves and reform; but was it not so in Josiah's time? his heart melted, and he prayed, and broke down the images and pictures, and the offenders, Baal's priests, were punished; nevertheless I turned not from the fierceness of my wrath: why should I turn from mine anger now, for your sakes, more than in Josiah's time? Oh, it is a hard thing to turn God from his anger.

But it must be done, and done quickly. If a fire be broken out, and not quenched quickly, it is more hard to quench; if the sea break in at a place, and be not stopped quickly, it is more hard to stop. Run in and make an atonement quickly, says Moses to Aaron; it must be done quickly.

What then shall we do? Do as Joshua did. There are six things that Joshua did here, when they fled before the men of Ai. 1. He was very sensible of God's stroke that was given to them, for he says, Lord, would we had been contented in the wilderness. 2. He was humbled under God's hand, for it is said, he rent his clothes, and fell down upon the earth. 3. And he prayed, and cried mightily unto God, as you read in the chapter. 4. And he put away the evil of their doings. 5. And he punished Achan the offender. 6. He made a holy resignation. And there must be a concurrence of all these six things if we would bring God back into the way of his mercy towards England.

We must be sensible of God's stroke. Though men be greatly afflicted, yet if they be not sensible of their affliction, and of the stroke that God gives them; says God, I have spent one rod upon them, and they do not feel it, I will lay on till blood come. God will make men sensible of their afflictions, and of the afflictions of the church, else he lays on more.

Again, Though a man be very sensible of God's stroke and

« PrécédentContinuer »