Page images


fall not see the land which I fware unto their fathers. And after he had brought them into the promised land, and wrought great deliverances for theni several times, how does he upbraid them with their proneness to fall again into the same fin of idolatry? Judg. X. II. 12. 13. 14. And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philiftines The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites did oppress you,


cried unto me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me, and served other gods : wherefore I will deliver you no

Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen ; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. This incensed God so highly against them, that they still relapsed into the same sin of idolatry, after so many

affictions, and so many deliverances. Upon such an occasion well might the Prophet say, Jer. ii. 19. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy fins shall reprove thee: know therefore that it is an evil and bitter thing, that thou haft forsaken the Lord thy God. It is hardly possible but we should know, that the wickedness for which we have been so severely corrected, is an evil and bitter thing.

Thus much for the first part of the observation, namely, That it is a fearful aggravation of sin, after great judgments, and great deliverances, to return to sin, and especially to the fame fins again. I proceed to the

II. Second part, namely, That this is a fatal presage of ruin to a people: Should we again break thy commandments, and join in afinity with the people of these abominations ; wouldst thou not be angry with us till thou hadst confumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? And fo God threatens the people of Israel in the text which I cited before, Wherefore I will deliver you no more, Judg. X. 13. Wherefore ; that is, because they would neither be reformed by the afflictions wherewith God had exercised them, nor by the many wonderful deliverances which he had wrought for them.

And there is great reason why God should deal thus with a people that continues impenitent both under the jadgments and mercies of God.

1. Because

1. Because this doth ripen the sins of a nation; and it is time for God to put in his fickle when a people are ripe for ruin. When the measure of their fins is full, it is no wonder if the cup of his indignation begin to overflow. It is said of the Amorites, four hundred years before God brought that fearful ruin upon them, that God deferred the extirpation of them; because, Gen. xv. 16. 'the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. When neither the mercies nor the judgments of God will bring us to repentance, we are then fit for destruction ; accora ding to that of the Apostle, Rom. ix. 22. What if God, willing to Jhew his wrath, and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vesels of wrath fitted for destruction? They who are not wrought upon neither

by the patience of God's mercies, nor by the patience of his judgments, seem to be fitted and prepared, to be ripe and ready for destruction.

2. Because this incorrigible temper shews the case of such persons to be desperate and incurable: If. i. 5. Why should they be fmitten any more? says God of the people of Israel, they will revolt more and more. Matth, xxiii. 37. 38. How often would I have gathered you, fays our blessed Saviour to the Jews, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold, your house is left to you defolate; that is, Ye shall be utterly destroyed; as it happened forty years after to Jerusalem, and to the whole Jewish nation.

When God fees that all the means which he can use do prove ineffectual, and to no purpose, he will then give over a people, as physicians do their patients when they see that nature is spent, and their case past remedy. When men will not be the better for the best means that heaven carf use, God will then leave them to reap the fruit of their own doings, and abandon them to the dea merit of their sin.

That which now remains, is, to apply this to ourselves, and to the solemn occasion of this day.

And if this be our case, let us take heed that this be not also our doom and sentence.

First, The case in the text doth very much resemble ours; and that in three respects. God hath sent great judgments upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great

trespasses : trespasses : he hath punished us less than our iniquities have deserved; and hath given us a very great and wonderful deliverance.

1. God hath inflicted great judgments upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespalles. Great judgments, both for the quality and for the continuance of them. It shall fuffice only to mention those which are of a more ancient date. Scarce hath any nation been more calamitous than this of ours, both in respect of the invasions and conquests of foreigners, and of our own civil and intestine divisions. Four times we have been conquered; by the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans. And our intestine divisions have likewise been great, and of long continuance. Witness the Barons wars, and that long and cruel contest between the two houses of York and Lancaster.

But to come nearer to our own times, What fearful judgments and calamities of war, and pestilence, and fire, have many of us seen ? and how close did they follow one another? What terrible hayock did the sword make amongst us for many years and this not the sword of a foreign enemy, but of a civil war; the mischiefs whereof were all terminated upon ourselves, and have given deep wounds, and left broad scars upon the most considerable families in the nation.

-Alta manent civilis vulnera dextræ. This war was drawn out to a great length, and had a tragical end, in the murder of an excellent King, and in the banishment of his children into a strange country, whereby they were exposed to the arts and practices of those of another religion ; the mischievous consequences whereof we have ever since fadly laboured under, and do feel them at this day.

And when God was pleased in great mercy at last to put an end to the miserable distractions and confusions of almost twenty years, by the happy restoration of the Royal family, and our ancient government; which seemed to promise to us a lasting settlement, and all the felicities we could wish : yet how foon was this bright and glorious morning overcast, by the restless and black designs of that sure and inveterate enemy of ours, the church of Rome, for the restoring of their religion amongst us ? And there was too much encouragement given to this design by those who had power in their hands, and had brought home with them a secret goodwill to it.


For this great trespass, and for our many other sins, God was angry with us, and sent among us the most raging pestilence that ever was known in this nation, which, in the space of eight or nine months, swept away near a third part of the inhabitants of this vast and populous city, and of the suburbs thereof; besides a great many thousands more in several parts of the nation : But we did not return to the Lord, nor seek him for all this.

And therefore, the very next year after, God fent a terrible and devouring fire, which in less than three days tinie laid the greatest part of this great city in alhes. And there is too much reason to believe, that the enemy did this, that perpetual and implacable enemy of the peace and happiness of this nation.

And even since the time of that dreadful calamity, which is now above twenty years agone, we have been in a continual fear of the cruel designs of that party; which had hitherto been incessantly working under ground, but now began to shew themselves more openly: and especially since a prince of that religion succeeded to the crown, our eyes have been ready to fail us for fear, and for looking after those dreadful things that were coming upon us, and seemed to be even at the door: A fear which this nation could easily have rid itself of, because they that caused it were but a handful in

comparifon of us, and could have done nothing without a foreign force and assistance; had not the principles of humanity, and of our religion too, restrained us from violence and cruelty, and from every thing which had the appearance of undutifulness to the government which the providence of God had set over us. An instance of the like patience, under the like provocations, for so long a time, and after such visible and open attempts upon them, when they had the laws fo plainly on their side, I challenge any nation or church in the world, from the very foundation of it, to produce: insomu that if God had not put it into the hearts of our kind neighVOL. II.



bours, and of that incomparable prince who laid and
conducted that great design with so much skill and secre-
cy, to have appeared fo seasonably for our rescue, our
patience had infallibly, without a miracle, been our
ruin. And I am sure, if our enensies had ever had the
like opportunity in their hands, and had over-balanced
us in numbers but half so much as we did them, they
would never have let it slip ; but would long since have
extirpated us utterly, and have made the remembrance of
us to have ceased among men.


for what fins more especially God hath sent all these judgments upon us ' it will not, I think, become us to be very particular and positive in such determinations. Thus much is certain, that we have all sinned, and contributed to these judga ments ; every one hath had some hand, more or less, in pulling down this vengeance upon the nation. But we are all too apt to remove the meritorious cause of God's judgments as far as we can from ourselves, and our own party, and, upon any light pretence, to lay

it upon others.

Yet I will venture to instance in one or two things which may probably enough have had a more particular and immediate hand in drawing down the judgments of God upon us.

Our horrible contempt of religion on the one hand, by our infidelity and profaneness, and our shameful abuse of it, on the other; by our grofs hypocrisy, and sheltering great wickedness and immoralities under the cloak and profession of religion.

And then great dissensions and divisions, great uncharitableness and bitterness of spirit among those of the same religion: so that, almost from the beginning of our happy reformation, the enemy had sown these tares, and, by the unwearied malice and arts of the church of Rome, the feeds of dissension were scattered very early amongst us; and a four humour had been fermenting in the body of the nation, both upon account of religion and civil interests, for a long time before things broke out into a civil war.

And more particularly yet : That which is called the greut trespass here in the text, their joining in affinity

« PreviousContinue »