A Sermon Preached To the Honorable House of Commons, At their late solemn Fast, Wednesday, December 27. 1643.
Minister at Edinburgh.
Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, what he did in the red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon.
Published by Order of the House.
LONDON: Printed for Robert Bostock, dwelling at the sign of the Kings-head in Paul’s Churchyard. 1644.
Die Mercurij 27. Decemb. 1643.
IT is this day Ordered by the Commons assembled in Parliament, that Master Solicitor doe from this House give thanks unto Master Henderson for the great pains he took in the Sermon he preached this day, at the entreaty of this House, at Saint Margaret’s Westminster; being the day of public Humiliation; and to desire him to Print his Sermon. It is also Ordered that none shall presume to Print his Sermon without being authorized under his hand writing.
Hen. Elsynge Cler. Parl. D. Com.
I appoint Robert Bostocke to Print this Sermon,
To the READER.
THIS Sermon, such as it is, was preached to the honorable house of Commons at their desire, and is now by their Order printed for thy use, and, by the blessing of God, for thy benefit. The desire & endeavor of the Preacher was, according to the scope and nature of the Text, to shew, that after so often renewed and long continued humiliation; and after solemn entering into Covenant with the most high God, The true reformation of Religion, is the readiest mean to turn away the still pressing wrath of God from the Kingdom, And to bring the desired blessings of all sorts upon Church and State; which yet will prove but uneffectual, unless the Reformation intended by the Honorable Houses of Parliament and the reverend Assembly of Divines be attended & faithfully followed with Renovation and Repentance in the people: Repentance for every known Sin (and how can Sin be unknown in the midst of so many burning and shining lights?) But repentance especially for sins in the matter of Religion, the present Epidemical disease of this Land, which threateneth changes & Armies of sorrows; so it pleaseth the Lord to give more than a taste of the bitter fruits of bad Church-government and a sad representation of the face of the Kingdom, if every man should be left to preach, profess and print what he will. O that my people had harkened unto me, & Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their Enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of God, should have submitted themselves unto him; but their time should have endured forever. Hearken therefore unto the voice of God in the spiritual, plain and powerful preaching of his servants (one of the greatest evidences that the Lord hath a purpose of mercy toward you) and walk in his ways. Mark them which cause divisions and offences amongst you; be wise unto that which is good, & simple concerning evil; & the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
A SERMON Preached at the late Fast, before the Honorable House of Commons.
Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done, for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the Realm of the King and his Sons?
THE Lord, who is the Father of Spirits, hath a great diversity of influence and operation, upon the minds and hearts of the children of men; [The Lord worketh diversely upon the hearts of men.] he can send a dream upon Nebuchadnezzar, while he is at rest in his house and flourishing in his palace, which maketh him afraid and the thoughts upon his bed, and the visions of his head to trouble him [Dan. 4.4, 5.]. While Belshazzar the King maketh a great feast to a thousand of his Lords, he can make a hand to write over against the Candlestick upon the plaster of the Wall, which maketh the King’s countenance to be changed, and his thoughts to trouble him; so that the joints of his loins were loosed, his knees smote one against another, and his wise men and Lords were astonished with him [Dan. 5.5.]: he can make Balaam, when he is called to curse the people of God, contrary to his own intention & the desire of Balak, to bless them three times [Num. 24.10.]: He can make Caiaphas to prophesy what he understandeth not, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole Nation perish not [John 11.49, 50.]: And the Lord can reveal his will to Joseph, Daniel, and his Prophets, concerning things to come for the comfort of his Church [Gen. 37. Dan 2. & 4, & 5. & 7. &c.]. Again, the Lord can renew the hearts of his Enemies, and make such a Persecutor, as Paul sometime was, to be a believer and Zealous Preacher [Acts 9.]: He can restrain the impetuous violence of the heart of man; thus dealt he with Laban, that he durst not speak to Jacob either good or bad [Gen. 31.]; he can also and doth indeed overrule the hearts and ways of his most Malignant and desperate Enemies, whom he neither reneweth nor restraineth, and contrary to their Counsels and intentions, bring them marvelously about to his own ends, as he dealt with Judas, Herod, Pilate, and the people of the Jews, who devised and did mischief against Christ, but God meant it for good, to save his people from their sins [Act. 4.27.28.]. There is yet another way of divine providence and Sovereignty, when the Lord is pleased neither to proceed to far as to renew, nor do so little as to restrain, but thinketh meet to change the affections of the heart of man; whether from particular hatred and opposition, as he dealt with Esau coming against Jacob [Gen. 33.], and Alexander the great, marching against Jerusalem [Joseph antq. Judaic. lib. 11. c. 8.], or from that common and innate hatred that all men naturally bear against the true Religion and Church of God: Of which we have the example of Ahasuerus in the book of Esther, of Artaxerxes in the book of Nehemiah, of Cyrus and Darius in this book, and of the same Artaxerxes in this Text: In whose eyes Ezra did find such favor, and of whom he had as ample testimony of royal benevolence and bounty toward Jerusalem and the house of God there, as his heart could have wished, and as made him humbly to acknowledge, that the good hand of the Lord his God was upon him, and to blesse the Lord God of his fathers, which had put such a thing in the King’s heart, as to beautify the house of the Lord God which was at Jerusalem. In the letter of Artaxerxes expressing his munificence, and containing the Commission and instructions given unto Ezra for this purpose; the clause which I have read is worthy of a star or finger in the margin, wherein we may perceive, that the King as he had heard and learned not from a flattering Court-Chaplain, but from faithful Ezra, believeth, that the great wrath of God, shall come not only upon himself, but which was more, upon his Kingdom and Posterity; if Religion should not be settled, and the house of God ordered with all speed and diligence in everything, as God himself had commanded.
[The Text divided.] If we will look more distinctly upon the Order not of the words, but of the matter, we shall meet with three particulars fitting the present condition of affaires, and very worthy our gravest consideration: The first is the great evil to be avoided, even the greatest of all evils, The wrath of God against the Realm of the King and his Sons.
The second is, the mean which is the chiefest of all means, and without which no other mean can be effectual for averting or preventing of wrath, Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done, for the house of the God of heaven.
The third is, the connexion of the one and the other, or the inference of the effect from the cause: For why should there be wrath? &c. When that is not diligently done for the house of the God of Heaven, which the God of Heaven commandeth, then is there wrath against the Realm of the King and his Sons.
Would the Lord, who is so rich in wisdom and can use so many powerful ways of dealing with the heart of man, be pleased to put it in the King’s heart, to write such a letter and send forth such an Edict as this is, it would be the opening of a door of hope; or as good Schechaniah saith [Ezra 10.2.], there would be now hope in Israel concerning this thing: That the horrible deluge of wrath which now overrunneth this Land, should be assuaged, the Fountains also of the depth, and the windows of Heaven would be stopped, the Ark would rest, the Dove would come with an Olive-leaf in her mouth, we would all join in offering a Sacrifice of thanksgiving, the Lord would smell a savor of rest, and we should see a new world wherein should dwell righteousness and peace. Amongst all the great things which the honorable Houses of Parliament have done, there is none more acceptable to God, or more promiseth peace and happiness to this Land, then that a Church-assembly is called, for searching into the will of the God of Heaven, that whatsoever is commanded by him may be diligently done. The wrath of the Lord hath raged for many years in Germany and is not yet abated, because nothing is done there for Reformation of Religion, and building of the house of God. But there be three things in England which give us hope and promise deliverance. First, Your frequent and continued fasting and humiliation. Secondly, Your entering into a solemn Covenant with God for obtaining mercy. Thirdly, Your begun Reformation, and the course You have taken for perfecting the same, That whatsoever is commanded by the God of Heaven may be diligently done for the house of the God of Heaven. If these three be performed in truth, You may expect a blessing: True humiliation, Covenanting with God, and Reformation, are the Harbingers of peace and happiness: But when they are not in truth, the hypocrisy threateneth more than the performance promiseth.
[The wrath of God laid open.] Concerning the great evil to be avoided, which is the wrath of the God of Heaven, although it be infinite and above all dimension unmeasurable, as it is in the infinite and incomprehensible God, yet according to our capacity and the matter in hand, it is expressed and set before our eyes in the dimensions thereof. In the [Psal. 103.] Psalm 103. we have the dimensions of the infinite mercy of God, the height and the depth thereof, according to the height of heaven; or as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him: and like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him: the breadth as far as the East is from the West, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us: and the length, The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to them that fear him, and his righteousness unto his Children’s Children. In this place We have the like dimensions of his anger against them that use not the power which God hath given them, for settling his fear and worship according to his own will: The height and depth thereof is in the word Wrath, [Rom. 1.18.; Deut. 32.22.] which is a boiling and burning anger, and this is the wrath of God revealed from heaven, [In the height and depth thereof.] and burning to the lowest hell; The breadth is, where it is not said against the King, but the kingdom of the King; and the length of it is, the Sons & Posterity of the King to all generations.
To speak a word of these three severally: First, we know that the words used in Scripture to denote the wrath of God against his Enemies, do express humane affections and bodily passions, which are not in him who is not like unto man; But the thing intended is the Lord his most holy dislike and serious detestation of sin, with his most just and constant will and decree to punish the same: His Comminations and threats declaring his dislike and decree, and his judgements and vengeance which are the executing of his threatenings. This execution of wrath is principally meant in this place, and yet it is not called the wrath of God, but simply (Wrath) thereby shewing the greatness and immensity of the wrath of God; that there is no wrath comparable with his wrath, and therefore no wrath so formidable as his wrath. For first, all other wrath of Man or Angel is but the limited wrath of the creature, but his wrath is infinite like himself; as the man is, so is his wrath, and as God is, so is his wrath. The wrath of a King is like the roaring of a young Lion, but the roaring of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is more terrible; look how much the Wisdom, the Power, the Justice, the Mercy of God are greater than the Wisdom, the Power, the Justice, the mercy of man, so much is the wrath of God greater than the wrath of man. Secondly, the wrath of God reacheth to the soul as well as to the body; to Kingdoms as well as to particular persons or Families; to the posterity as well as to the present generation; it being accompanied with omnipotency to which all things are alike, easy and feasible. Thirdly, the greatness of his anger appeareth in this; that he is the Lord of Hosts, when the Heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them, Gen. 2.1. then and not before did God the maker of all things take upon him the name of the Lord, verse 4. After he had made all things by his word, and set them in order, he commandeth and ruleth all by his authority, he hath them all ready to execute his will; they are all his Host and Soldiers, from the Angels, Sun, Moon and Stars, unto the smallest Flies and Worms; and when he giveth the alarm to the least of them, the greatest on earth are not able to resist.
[Use 1.] The Use of this may be two-fold: One is against the wicked; since in these three respects there is no wrath comparable to the wrath of God, no wrath is so much to be feared as his wrath. Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense saith the Lord; and again, the Lord shall judge his people; It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Heb. 10.30.31.]; although it be much better for the Godly to fill into the hands of God, whose mercies are great and who in judgement remembereth mercy, then into the hands of men whose mercies are cruel; and it were more tolerable for them to have the pestilence then the sword raging in the Land [2 Sam. 24.14.] yet the wicked shall find that it had been more easy for them to fall into the hands of men then into the hands of God, who both killeth the body and destroyeth their temporal being, & casteth both soul and body into the fire of hell; For the Lord whose name is jealous is a jealous God [Exod. 34.14.]; and which is very proper for such as at this time flatter themselves in their own wickedness; The Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lye upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under Heaven [Deut. 29.20]. To which that of the Prophet is very agreeable; Then shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted [Ezek. 5.13.]. The wicked amongst the people of God, who blesse themselves in their own hearts, saying; We shall have peace, though we walk in the imaginations of our own hearts; are the natural element for the curses and judgements of God, which are moving to and fro, to lie and rest in, and when the curses and judgements of the Lord come upon them, the Lord is at rest and is comforted, and his people that fear his name and tremble at his judgements, are also at rest and are comforted.
[Use 2.] Another use is for the Godly, who in some similitude and conformity with the wrath of the jealous God, should stir up in themselves their zeal and just indignation against false worship, and the contempt of the true worship of his name. When Moses did behold the Idolatry of the people in the golden Calf, his Zeal was so strong and he so impatient, that he brake the Tables written with God’s own hand [Exod. 32.]. I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, saith Elias [1 Kin. 19.10.]; For the Children of Israel have forsaken thy Covenant, thrown down thine Altars, and slain thy Prophets with the sword. When Paul came to Athens and saw the City wholly given to Idolatry, his spirit was stirred in him, and a Paroxysm like a fit of a fever did take him [Acts 17.16.]. And when Lot was at Sodom, he vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds, his soul was tormented within him [Pet. 2.8.]. You must not any longer be lukewarm like Laodicea, neither hot nor cold [Rev. 3.16.], but (according to the fervent anger ascribed here to God) fervent in spirit serving the Lord [Rom. 12.11.]. When we are lukewarm in the matters of God, then doth the wrath of God wax hot, and when we are fervent and zealous, then doth his anger cease and the fire of his wrath is extinguished.
[In the breadth thereof.] The second is, the object of his wrath, or the breadth unto which it is extended: The Realm of the King: he saith not upon the King, or upon the King of the Kingdom, but upon the Kingdom of the King; and thus he expresseth himself upon two grounds, or for two reasons: The one is; because he knew that for his fault the people might suffer: The other is; that he looked more to the suffering of the people, then to anything that could befall himself. No question he had learned from Ezra and others of his spirit (so good and necessary a thing is it, that Ezraes and Nehemiahs be about Kings, such prove indeed as their names imply, helpers and comforters both to King and people) that Kingdoms suffers sometimes for the sins of their Kings and Rulers [2 Sam. 24, 1 Kin. 21.]; a truth not unknown unto natural men. It is also true that Kings sometimes suffer for the sins of the people: For the transgression of a Land many are the Princes thereof [Prov. 28.2.]. If you shall still doe wickedly, saith Samuel to the people [1 Sam. 12.25.]; ye shall be consumed, both you and your King. But all the debate is in the application; for Kings many times justify themselves, that the people suffer not for their sins, but for their own; and the people are as ready to justify themselves, that Kings suffer not for their sins but for their own; and when wrath is upon both, both are ready to stand to their own defense, and to plead their innocency: But the true determination is, that no man or multitude suffereth but for that sin, which some way is their own sin, and whereof they themselves are guilty. When David numbered the people, & the people were punished, the people were punished for their own sins; both their former sins which the Lord at this time did take occasion to call to remembrance; and their present sin in consenting to the numbering of the people; for had they been all unwilling as Joab was, and had not consented, they had not sinned. Kings should not be permitted to commit such public sins, but Council, Parliament, People, and every one according to his place and power should hinder them. It may displease them for the present, but afterward it shall be no grief nor offence of heart unto them, either that they have shed blood causeless, or have avenged themselves, as Abigail said to David [1 Sam. 35.31.]; yet David said truly, it was his sin, both because it did begin at him, and he was the principal Agent in it; and because he gave the provocation at this time, and his sin was the match that set on fire the wrath of God, which was ready before to be kindled against the people for their sins. It is a miserable debate betwixt a King and a people, when in the time of a public judgement, both of them stand to their own innocency, and the one accuseth the other of guiltiness: But it is a sweet contest and promiseth much mercy and comfort: when the Prince saith; I have sinned and done wickedly, but what hath the people done? and when the people say, we have sinned and done wickedly, and thereby have drawn wrath upon ourselves. Although at this time the King’s Majesty, when he sees so many of the poor people fall to the ground, so much blood spilt, should be moved in his heart to say as David said, I have sinned: Yet ye that are his Subjects, each one in his own place, should confess your own sins, and justify the Lord’s doing, for ye are guilty; first, of many sins before this time, especially that you have not called and endeavored so earnestly as ye ought for Reformation of Religion, that everything might have been done in the house of God according to his own will; but have pleased your selves with, and have rested in the beginnings of a Reformation; ye have been for the greater part more pleased with things which were not reformed, then the things which were reformed in the worship of God; and this sin hath been the cause of many other sins, for where God is not served aright, all other duties are but neglected or performed without sincerity. Secondly, for the present, this is the sin of the Land, that the people have not according to their power stayed the King from shedding of blood, but many have joined their Counsels and endeavors to begin and increase the common misery, and others have not resisted the evil, but suffered the sword to rage, which may make the people justly to say, We have sinned and done wickedly.
[In the length thereof.] The third is, the length of this wrath; for it reaches to the Kings Sons and so to the Posterity. The wrath of God endeth not at the persons that have sinned, but is extended to others that descend of them, without respect of persons, and especially for sins about the house and worship of God. For the horrid and blasphemous murmuring of Israel, when they repented themselves of their coming out of Egypt, and said one to another, let us make a Captain and let us return into Egypt; not only their own carcasses fell in the Wilderness, but their Children which had not murmured, yea which were not yet born must wander in the Wilderness forty years, and bear their whoredoms [Numb. 14.] In like manner in the seventy years of the captivity of Babylon, the Children that were born in Babylon, or were carried from their own Land, suffered in that captivity a world of miseries for the sins of their Parents. The examples of the Children of Dathan and Abiram, of the first borne of Egypt; of the young ones in Sodom, that had not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam; and many other judgements of God, plucking up root and branch, prove this to be the manner of the Lord’s proceeding against sinners, and that without respect of persons: The greater the persons be, the more grievous in the justice of God is the punishment; because the sins of great ones are not only sins, but examples of sinning, and proclamations of liberty to inferiors, and therefore I will be glorified in Pharaoh and in his servants [Exod. 14.], saith the Lord. For the sin of Saul. in slaying the Gibeonites, there was not only a famine in the days of David, three years, year after year, but seven of his sons also were hanged up in Gibeah. David himself was not spared, but because he had slain Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Children of Ammon; Nathan said, the sword shall not depart from thine house because thou hast despised me [2 Sam. 12.9.10.]: And afterward when his sin was pardoned, because he had given great occasion to the Enemies of God to blaspheme, the Child also that is born unto him shall surely die. This course the Lord doth after a special manner follow in sins about his house and worship; and therefore in the second command and no other doth the Lord threaten to visit the sins of the Fathers upon the Children. The reasons why the Lord doth so; are first, that all the world may know, how much the Lord abhorreth sin, especially in matters of his worship. To this purpose it is observable what he saith, Exod. 32.34. In the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them: So often as he punished the people and their posterity for other sins he remembered, their sin of Idolatry, which gave occasion to the saying, That in every plague of Israel there was one ounce of the golden Calf. Secondly, that men may abstain from sins of this sort, not only for respect to themselves, but to their posterity, whom they love so tenderly, and of whom they are often more careful then of themselves. And this he doth to the third and fourth generation, that both the Parents themselves and others who are witnesses to the sins of the Parents, may be sensible of God’s dealing, and know that the Lord is just, and the avenger of sin. I leave the theological discourse in vindicating the justice of God, only I say; first, that the Lord punisheth no man with eternal wrath for his father’s sins, but the soul that sinneth suffereth in that kind. Secondly, that the ungodly and wicked posterity cannot open their mouth against the justice of God, since they continue in the iniquity of their fathers. Thirdly, that the Godly when they are visited in their bodies, goods, or estates which they have from their Fathers, will find these visitations to be indeed indicia peccati non judicia propter peccatum [evidences of sin not judgments because of sin], and rather medicines and preservatives for their eternal happiness then wrath for their destruction.
[Use.] And I come to the use; that in this nick of time and jointure of affaires, the great wisdom which God hath given you in your public places, be stirred up and exercised, in taking heed that all the former sins of this Land committed by so many Progenitors, be not brought upon this Generation, according to that sore and sad sentence pronounced by the Son of God against Jerusalem, Matth. 23.35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, Son of Barachias whom ye slew between the Temple & the Altar; and verse 36. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this Generation. Yee cannot preserve all particular persons from the judgements due unto them for their own, and for their fathers’ sins; nor can ye preserve every Family from the wrath which the present and preceding generations have been treasuring up. It appeareth that the Lord hath decreed the destruction of some persons, and the extirpation of some Families: But it is in your hands to prevent the desolation of the Church and Kingdom. The Jews filled up the measure of their Fathers, by crucifying the Son of God when he came amongst them and would have wrought a Reformation, and therefore their habitation was left desolate, and they are no more a Nation nor a Kingdom unto this day: It is true the people were executioners, but the Rulers were the prime Agents. Do therefore the work unto which the Lord hath called You, and Yee shall save the Kingdom from this wrath: It is in Your hands as Instruments to make the posterity blessed, and to bless You for your faithfulness. Woe to them that leave their Station in such an exigence; they do what they can to bring all the blood and all the sins of former times upon this Generation, and to make the Posterity miserable. Let others profess or pretend what they will, I am assured, that such as are faithful in their places, are upon the right way to save the Kingdom, the King, and the King’s Sons from wrath.
[The means to avert and prevent the wrath of God.] Now there is nothing more necessary, nothing we should desire more earnestly to know, then by what means this great wrath of the great God may be prevented where it is imminent & feared, or averted where it is incumbent & felt; & to what end doth the Lord threaten his wrath, to what purpose doth he make it smoke, and in part to break forth in a flame, but that the means may be used to turn it away, that the fullness thereof come not upon us. We will find three sorts of means practiced in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and of the Prophets their contemporaries.
[The first mean.] The first was public fasting and solemn humiliation joined with Confession of sin, justifying of God in all the evils he had brought upon them, earnest deprecation of wrath, and supplications for a blessing that God would accept of their endeavors, and prosper his work against so many professed and secret Enemies.
[The second mean.] The second was, a solemn Covenant: For the Princes and Rulers first, and then the people entered into a curse and an oath, to walk in God’s Law, and to observe and do all his commandments, judgements, and statutes. Here there was swearing, subscribing, sealing; and all means used which could bind their inconstant and fugitive hearts unto God.
[The third mean.] The third was, the doing of the work of God; the building of the Temple, the reformation of Religion, the ordering of the worship & service of God, and the re-edifying of the walls which were ruined & lying in heaps. Their fasting and praying was not sufficient, they behooved to enter into Covenant. Their praying and Covenanting was not enough, nor were they to rest there, They behooved to build and reform. It hath pleased God to putt in your hearts, to give your selves to frequent fasting and humiliation, only consider, whether with the acknowledgment of your particular Sins and personal transgressions, ye have been humbled for public and National Sins, and especially such as have been committed about the worship of God, and the Government of the house of God. The Lord hath been much dishonored this way, for this hath he entered in a controversy with the Land; this therefore would be confessed that God may be restored to his honor by your confession. It feareth me that a great part of the people of the Land are not yet brought to this Confession, but are still fond of a formal Service, and a proud Prelacy; and therefore as ye are your selves in humility to acknowledge this sin as a high provocation, so would all good means be used for bringing the people to the sight and sense of it. It is true, there is a secret and real acknowledgement in the Covenant; but the Lord requireth a more direct, open, and plain confession; nor can he be pleased, or his wrath turned away, till that which hath been called and esteemed, for so many years, the glory and the beauty of the Church of England, be thus brought low and cast into the dust. It hath pleased the Lord also, to bring you a degree farther: That both the honorable Houses of Parliament, and many others, whose hearts the Lord hath touched, have entered into a solemn League and Covenant, for performing such duties, as are judged necessary at this time, for the honor of God, and for the deliverance and preservation of the Church and Kingdom, which no doubt will prove a precious and powerful mean of good, if the Name of the most high God, be not by it taken in vain: But take heed, that it be not forgotten by them that have taken it, before it be taken by others; And therefore two things would be looked unto. 1. That although it should never be taken by others, yet it obligeth such as have entered in Covenant; and although the whole Nation, be bound to the same duties, which ye are bound unto, ye have entered into a new Obligation, which, if you shall forget or violate; will certainly be laid to your charge. Jeremiah reproveth Israel not for the transgression of the Law, [Jer. 34.] which yet commanded the same duties, but for violation of the Covenant. 2. That others be instructed and moved to enter into the same Covenant: for if they who have entered in Covenant shall not consider that it is a perpetual Covenant never to be forgotten, or (which God forbid) shall forget their supervenient [additional] obligation, and others shall refuse to enter in Covenant, it will not only make a division in the Church and Kingdom, but shall be a ready way to bring on a greater wrath, then yet hath been seen or felt: Upon one sort for their perfidy; and upon the other, for their neglect or obstinacy.
[Considerations about the third mean.] There is yet a third mean, without which the former two are not sufficient: And this is, Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: A duty which in itself is necessary, and which to us who live under the Gospel, is no other thing, but the reformation and settling of Religion. Wherein we are to consider. 1. the Rule of reformation, which is the Commandment, Decree, or revealed will of God. 2. The extent of this reformation, whatsoever. 3. How or after what manner we should go about the work, diligently. 4. The reasons, which should induce us to this duty: one is, from the greatness and sovereignty of God: He is the God of heaven. The other from common equity: It is the house of the God of heaven; and it is equitable that every man bear rule in his own house.
[1. The Rule of Reformation.] The rule of building the house of God, and of the reformation of Religion, is the same and perpetual: the commandment of God, and not the commandment of man one or more, whether they be Civil or Ecclesiastical persons. It is their part to provide according to their places and callings, to command and direct that the Commandment of God be obeyed. This King commandeth not that his will be done, but what God hath commanded. Neither King nor Parliament can command otherwise. Civil powers have great authority, not only in things civil, but in matters of Religion; and they sin against God, if they use not the authority which God hath put in their hands, for the good of Religion. To them belongeth Inspection and watching over, not only Ecclesiasticos [i.e., things belonging to the church], but Ecclesiastica [i.e., the church itself]. Ecclesiastical persons are subject to Civil authority no less then others; and in respect of things Ecclesiastical or matters of Religion, Eusebius brings in Constantine the great, saying: Vos Episcopi in Ecclesia, ego extra Ecclesiam seu templum Episcopus a Deo constitutus sum [Ye are bishops in the church, I am outside of the church appointed the bishop of God]: Not that any mortal man whether Pope or Prince, can be properly Head of the Church, or Vice-gerent unto Christ the Mediator in his special and economical Kingdom of Grace: for Princes are Vice-gerents to God, and to his Son Jesus Christ as he is God, in his universal Kingdom of Providence; and this watching and inspection of Princes and Magistrates, is objective Ecclesiastica [objectively ecclesiastical], but formaliter civilis [formally civil], it is about matters of Religion in a civil manner, and in a way suitable to the nature and quality of their place and power. The faithful custody and preservation of Religion, is a part of their office: for they are not only keepers of the second, but of the first Table of the Law. To them appertaineth the vindication and defense of Religion, against contempt, corruption, and abuses. Religion also expecteth from them the Civil sanction, that the worship of God, and the wholesome constitutions of the Church about Religion, be confirmed and settled by their Laws. Coaction also is theirs, for they by their power are to constrain their Subjects to the duties of Religion, and to coerce and stop them that they do nothing to the contrary. They also may and ought to call Assemblies of the Church, when the case of Religion doth require, preside as Civil Presidents, and examine Church-Constitutions, not only as they are Christians for satisfying their own souls, but as Magistrates for the good of the people. And when there is a necessity of reformation of Religion, and the Ministry and Church-men, like the sands of the Sea-shore are covered with a deluge of defection and corruptions, they are by their Authority to endeavor a Reformation. And yet in all this exercise of their power, they are to do nothing but according to the Commandment of God: so David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other good and religious Princes have done. But when Jeroboam putteth his own commandment in place of the commandment of God, when Ahaz setteth up the Altar of Damascus beside or in place of God’s Altar, when the Kings of Judah and Israel, did worship God, or did command the people to worship God, otherwise then God had commanded, wrath was upon the Kingdom of the King and his Sons.
[Use.] When we consider of this, we have cause both to lament and rejoice: to lament, that through the working of corrupt Church-men so many things concerning the worship and house of God, should have been pressed upon the people of God, without or against his commandment, if Arminianism for the soul and life, and Popish Service and Ceremonies for the body of Religion, had been received and admitted, as they were offered and obtruded, our condition had been more lamentable, then it is at this time, notwithstanding all our calamities and miseries. We have also cause to rejoice, that in the one Kingdom a course hath been taken for doing everything in the house of God, according to his Commandment, and that in this Kingdom it is ordered, that a wise and holy Assembly of Divines shall search diligently into the Word of God, That whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, &c.
[2. The extent of Reformation.] The extent of this Reformation is, Whatsoever God hath commanded: for what God hath commanded must be done; what he hath forbidden must not be done, but abolished; and what is in the nature thereof indifferent must be regulated according to the Commandment of God, which is, no less plain and peremptory in our practice of things indifferent, then in other matters. Reformation therefore of Religion must be a through and perfect reformation. The particular reformations which were wrought by the Kings of Judah, are noted, and according to this rule, do they receive a testimony from God. Some only destroyed the Temples of Baal, some the golden Calves of Dan and Bethel, and some also the groves and high places, and we know what approbation is given to Hezekiah and Josiah. There is a promise made to such a through Reformation. Azariah saith to Asa, Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded: [2 Chron. 15.7.] By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take his sin: when he maketh all the stones of the Altar as chalk-stones that are beaten asunder. [Isa. 27.9.] The Lord hath promised a more special blessing, Isa. 1.26. [27, 28.] I will restore thy Judges as at the first, and thy Counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the City of righteousness, the faithful City, &c. The reason is, 1. Because God is not honored by a begun, imperfect, and half-reformation. He is ready to spew out the lukewarm person, family, or people. If we love the Lord with all our heart and strength, we will do everything that he commandeth: for what is it that hindreth, but that our heart is parted or divided betwixt two; and that we resolve, to be almost, but not altogether godly. 2. Because a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, saith the Apostle to the Galatians, [Galat. 5.7, 8, 9.] reproving them that having run well they did halt and not throughly obey the truth, and telling them, that this persuasion did not come of him that called them. When any known corruption is kept, it becomes a snare, and like a nest-egg, that bringeth us back again. I know this is censured for preciseness by the world: but we see the best servants of God have been such Precisians. Remember the hoof of Moses, Mordecai his bowing of his knee, Daniel his abstaining from idolatrous meat, and the opening of his window; Paul his hour and appearance of evil, with many more examples of this kind. They are Precisians indeed, who are liberal in the matters of God, and can find in their hearts to dispense with his commands, his truth and worship: but will not be content to want the least complement of their own worldly honor and dignity, nor the smallest penny of their gain and worldly commodity. Although it be true, that some things in Religion be fundamental, and absolutely necessary unto salvation, and other things not so, yet to be obstinate against revealed truth, or to mis-regard or despise smallest matters of Religion, which are necessary to be received, if not for themselves, yet for the authority of Scripture, (as some make the distinction) bringeth as certain a curse and condemnation, as ignorance and error doth in matters more substantial.
[Use.] No Nation under the Sun hath more need to take heed to this then England: No persons have reason more to consider this, then the Honorable Houses of Parliament, who have in their hands the work of Reformation at this time. It is better known to this Honorable Audience, then to me; and yet who is so great a stranger that knoweth it not: that Reformation was begun in the time of two Princes? But because it was not a through Reformation according to the Commandment of God, Superstition and Idolatry returned again like an inundation. It was again begun and continued in the time of other two Princes; but because, they set up their rest in the Rudiments and beginnings of Reformation, Idolatry, Superstition, and Heresy have assayed to enter again with new strength and policy. Now the third time the work is begun, and there is a greater stir and shaking for it than before, either now endeavor to carry it through to every point of known perfection, doing whatsoever the God of heaven hath commanded, or look for nothing, but that Superstition and Idolatry, and with it ruin and desolation, shall come upon you as a flood.
[3. The manner of going about Reformation.] And therefore, which is the third, go about the work after the manner here prescribed, that is diligently, which implieth very much. 1. Sincerely, aiming at the right end without simulation. This is to do the work of God, for the honor of God, and good of Religion. And not for our glory or benefit, or for civil ends were they never so public; And therefore it calleth not only for public, but for pious Spirits. Where this sincerity is wanting, there may be a business and counterfeiting of diligence, but no true diligence or faithfulness. 2. Zealously: for true zeal is active, like fire, or like metal in a horse, or like wind to the sails of a ship, it carrieth us on, and maketh us diligent. 3. Prudently, Prudence considereth both the opportunities and impediments of working, where Prudence is wanting, there may be precipitation, but no true diligence. 4. Speedily, without delay or procrastination. As vineger to the teeth, and a smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him [Pro. 10.26.]. The sloughing and slipping of occasions bringeth despair of doing good in the end, and then our own consciences chide, and others to whom we should have done good, do curse us. Solomon’s house was not built in less then thirteen years, but the Temple was built in seven years: because, beside the preparation of materials, both the King and the people were more earnest about the one then the other. There is no want of materials at this time, only speed is required; and without speed, no diligence. 5. Constantly; that no calumny or contradiction, no hope or fear, no trouble or example of others, prevail with you, to leave your station, or desert the work unto the which the Lord hath called you, but that you resolve still to do, and, if the Lord will, to die. Let no man think by deserting the work and forsaking his station, that the work shall cease and he shall prosper. No, thou shalt find thy soul filled with grief and vexation upon two contrary grounds: One is, Thou shalt with a grieved and envious heart behold with thy eyes, the work to prosper, and thou not honored to have a hand in it. The other is; Thou thy self shall perish in the end: For as a bird that wandereth from her nest, [Pro. 27.8.] so is a man that wandereth from his place. Mark and consider what comfort they have found who have deserted this work of Reformation, whether in the one Kingdom or in the other. Thou thinkest, that thou will not hazard thy self for the honor of God: but God saith, he will not honor thee, to have heart or hand in his work, and thou shall run a greater hazard.
[Reasons hereof.] There be two reasons secretly couched in the words to persuade and provoke unto this duty: The one is from the knowledge of the greatness and majesty of God, the other from the conscience of common equity amongst men. Concerning the first: Artaxerxes was a great King: for in the beginning of his letter, he is honored with the title of King of Kings, as having many mighty Princes under his power; And in the end of the letter, he hath power of confiscation of goods, imprisonment, banishment, and death: Yet he acknowledgeth one greater than the greatest whom he calleth the God of heaven, thereby to express his greatness, majesty, and glory, which made him to give forth this Decree, and by which he would move all men to do diligently what he commandeth: For the knowledge and apprehension of the greatness and Majesty of God, especially compared with our baseness, is a powerful mean, to move us to obey his Commandments, and to go diligently about the affairs of his House. The Lord is great eminently and infinitely above the creature: he is the original of all created greatness, and nothing can be conceived in him, which may be the least diminution of his greatness and Majesty. It is not so with men. When he is to give his Law to his people, he first manifesteth his greatness by his wonders in Egypt, by bringing them miraculously through the Red sea, and by the Terrors of Mount Sinai, and then he beginneth, [Isa. 6.1, 2, 3, 4.] I am the Lord thy God that brought thee, &c. When he speaketh to his Prophets, to make them diligent and faithful, he useth this Preface: Thus saith the Lord. [Isa. 46.1.] When he sendeth Isaiah with his message, he beginneth with a vision of his glory: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple. &c. When he will have men to tremble at his word, Thus saith the Lord, the heavens is my Throne, and the earth is my footstool. When he revealed himself to John his servant, he sheweth his greatness, Revel. 4. and 7. If the greatest of the children of men did consider that he is higher than the highest, Eccles. 5.8. that in his hand is there breath, and all their ways, as Daniel telleth a great King that went before Artaxerxes, Dan. 5.23. That in his fight when once he is angry, no creature can stand. Psal. 76.7. They would not by any sin, and least of all by dealing deceitfully in the matters of his House, provoke him to anger. Wo unto him that striveth with his Maker: Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Isa. 45.9. If either King or Parliament, or Assembly, could really in their hearts apprehend this uncreated and infinite greatness, and could look upon God, as he is described, Dan. 7.9. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head as pure wool, his Throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. They would choose rather to offend all the world, then to offend him in the smallest matter of his House: but the truth is, we put the Lord far from us, and we see not him that is invisible. Unless by the goodness of God a timeous and powerful remedy be provided, the multitude of Sects and Sectaries will become ere it be long, the reproach of this Nation, yet it fears me that Atheism and Atheists be more common, and abound more, then any Sect, or sort of Sectaries: For did men know or believe, that there is a God in heaven, who is God of heaven and earth, were it possible for them to live as they live, and to do what they do. Men become first Atheists in their life and conversation, living as a worm in a man’s belly, thinking no other ways of man, but as ordained to be a place for it to live in, and of no other world but that wherein it lives: So do the Atheists of the world, wallow in their sins and sensuality, never thinking of the Author or end of their life, that there is any other world, or that this world serveth for any other end but for their life. After they have lived as Atheists, when they are constrained sometimes to think that there is a God, they become Atheists in their desire and affection, wishing that there were not a God to be avenged upon them for their wickedness; and in end the Lord giveth them up to Atheism in their judgement and opinion. As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. Rom. 1.28. Being stricken with his judgement, they have no serious thought of the House of God or his glory, but all their care is, about their own houses and honor; And ordinarily the Lord befools them in their deepest Policies, sweeping down their cob-webs, which they have been for a long time twisting, making their own wits a snare unto them, and turning the means which they did use for their standing and rising, to be the means of their fall and ruin.
[Reason 2.] The other Reason is from common equity amongst men, which was the ground of that Decree, Esth. 1.22. That every man should bear rule in his own house. The Temple of Jerusalem was the House of God: and now under the Gospel the Church of Christ, is the House of the living God, where he hath promised his presence, his face is seen, and he is found of them that seek him: which therefore may be called, Surely God is in thee. Isa. 45.14. And Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is there. Ezek. 48.35. And therefore the Lord should bear rule in his Church, and his Commandment ought to be obeyed. According to this ground hath the Lord given the precepts of his holy, just, and good Law: For if he be our God, what more equitable then that we have him and no other for our God, that he direct his own service and worship, that his Name be reverently used by us, that we observe the times wherein he will have us to appear before him, and that we do duty to everyone with whom we live under him.
This consideration may be very useful: For it may first serve to be a Cure of two great ills in this Land: One is of such as conceive that the Law of God, belongeth not to Christians; They may as well say, that Common and Natural Equity belongeth not to Christians. Is it not written in the heart of man by nature? Is it not confirmed by Jesus Christ? Is it not recommended to Christians by the Apostles? Is it not established by faith? Is not the observing of it, a testimony of our communion with God? Is not the end of it, love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned? Is it thankfulness to God, because we are delivered from the condemnation, coaction, and rigor of the Law, not to acknowledge the obligation of the Law? Shall not the domestics of the house of God observe the Commandments of God, or shall they not be grieved when they transgress and observe them not? It is too common an error to turn the grace of God into wantonness. The other evil is on the other hand when men give themselves to will-worship: the one sort neglects the Commandments of God, the other addeth the commandments of men to the Commandments of God, which is that εθελοπερισσοθρησκεία that Epiphanius speaketh of, a superfluous will-worship: of which there is too palpable an example and practice in this Kingdom at this time, in the observation of days. No Church or Kingdom on earth, hath greater reason to take heed to it, then the Church and Kingdom of England. 1. Because the house and service of God, hath been pestered, beside a multitude of superstitious observations and Ceremonies, with a greater number of days, then the Church of the Jews had in the time of their Ceremonial worship. 2. Because the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s day hath been profaned, and what hath been added to other days, hath been added with derogation to the Lord’s day: They have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and have digged unto themselves cisterns which hold no water. 3. Because God hath called this Land to mourning and fasting, as we profess this day, and I pray God that the unseasonable keeping of this festivity [i.e., Christ-mass], which God hath not commanded, be not more prevalent for evil, then the humiliation of this day for good; and yet the keeping of this day of humiliation in such a time of festivity, is a presage that by the blessing of God upon the proceedings of the Honorable Houses of Parliament and Assembly, this superstition shall shortly expire, and that it is now at the last gasp.
[Use 2.] Secondly, It may teach us what reason the Lord of heaven hath to be angry when his Commandment is not obeyed in his own house. Kings will be obeyed in their kingdoms: Majors & Magistrates in their Cities, every man in his own house: The Church of God is the Kingdom, the City, the House of God, which we must either deny, or resolve to have his will done.
[The third part of the Text.] There is yet a third point to be considered: the conjunction of these two, or the inference, of the effect from the cause: For why should there be wrath, &c. It is expressed in an interrogatory way to shew the necessity of the consequence; and that the wrath is certain and inevitable, unless what is commanded be done: and to shew the foolishness and wickedness of man in bringing upon himself this wrath which by his obedience he might prevent, like unto that in the Prophet: Why will ye die O house of Israel. The prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself: [Pro. 22.3.] but the simple pass on and are punished. Whence we learn, that it is a special wisdom in these that have place and power, to prevent or turn away the wrath of God from the present and future generation by establishing true Religion, and ordering the house of God aright. I confess it is a higher point of wisdom to have a care of Religion, that thereby ourselves and others may be brought to spiritual and eternal happiness, and thereby to prevent everlasting wrath: yet even in relation to the blessings and miseries of this present life, this kind of piety is the best policy. I will honor them that honor me, saith the Lord, and those that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Men may expect honor by dishonoring of God, and despising of Religion, but the Word of the Lord abideth sure, and their honor shall be turned into shame. More particularly to this purpose and text, the Prophet Haggai speaketh. [Hag. 1.9, 10.] A heavy judgement was upon the people for the neglect of the worship and service of God: Why saith the Lord of hosts? because of mine House that is waste, and ye run every man into his own house; Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit, like unto that in Deut. [28.23.] The heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thy feet shall be iron. But afterward he speaks comfortably: [Hag. 2.9.] The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: And in this place will I give peace saith the Lord of Hosts. And again, [Hag. 2.18, 19.] consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s Temple was laid, consider it: From this day will I bless you. Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah are two Witnesses of this truth. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not to Balaam, but sought to the Lord God of his father, & walked in his Commandments, and not after the doings of Israel; therefore the Lord established the Kingdom in his hand, and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents, & he had riches and honor in abundance, &c. [2 Chr. 17 3, 4, 5, 6.] Hezekiah teacheth the Levites themselves this Lesson; that for trespasses of this kind the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah & Jerusalem, & he had delivered them to trouble, to astonishment and to hissing. [2 Chr. 29 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.] There be as many pregnant examples of this truth in the book of God as of any other; but he who desireth a full Commentary or Sermon upon this point of the Text, let him read the 2 Chap. of the book of the Judges, and he shall see the ebbing and flowing of prosperity, peace and safety, according to the course of Religion. The reason of it is; because where true Religion hath not place, there is nothing but profaneness, uncleanness, excess, oppression, violence, deceit and falsehood. The laws of men may do some hurt for repressing outrages, but how shall the floods be dried up unless the fountains be obstructed? There is great difference betwixt outward restraint from man, and inward mortification from God: Where Religion taketh place, men neither dare nor will commit sin; and doth not the wrath of God for these things come upon the Children of disobedience? Men need not in searching out the periods and fatalities of Kingdoms and States, trouble themselves with the intricate numbers of Plato, Predictions of Astrologers or particular Prophesies, ασεβεια, αδικια, ασελγεια, impiety, iniquity, luxury, which must needs have place where true Religion hath nor place, & are causes for which the Lord bringeth alterations upon Kingdoms.
[Use 1.] By this we may easily discern who are Malignants and Enemies to the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom; Religion is the touchstone: Such as are mockers of the Reformation of Religion and of their own lives, have brought on and hold on this heavy wrath; but they who desire & endeavor the Reformation & settling of Religion are in the right way to bring honor and happiness upon the Kingdom of the King and his Sons.
[Use 2.] It is a damnable and cursed policy, by dispensing with anything which God hath commanded to be done for his house, to seek after peace and deliverance. It was the policy of Jeroboam, & it turned to his ruin. It was the policy of the Jews, and it brought their City and Nation to desolation. In this thou walkest contrary to God, and therefore God will walk contrary to thee. Thou thinkest to turn away wrath by the neglect of Religion & of the house of God; but God hath said, that wrath shall be upon the Kingdom, unless what he hath commanded be done for his house. Art thou wiser then he? or art thou stronger then he? will thou against the will of God, against the experience of all ages, against thy own conscience, run in a way contrary to God’s way? Salvation shall come to the people of God, and his house shall be built; but thou & thy house which thou makest an Idol and preferrest to the house of God, shall certainly perish; God will not he mocked.
[Use 3.] I must therefore take the boldness according to the charge and trust committed unto me at this time, in the name of God to exhort, & in the bowels of Jesus Christ to entreat, that the house of God be diligently looked unto, and that first of all, Religion be reformed and settled. No man must be of Gallio’s temper, [Acts 18.14, 15, 16 17.] to care for none of those things, as if they were but light matters in comparison of civil and secular affaires, or as if they were impertinent for him. Nothing in the world that doth concern thine own private, or the state and public, is of so great weight & importance, nothing so pressing & pertinent as this of Religion. No man must be of Gamaliel’s temper; he was a grave, learned, and peaceable man, of great esteem amongst the people; yet his counsel was crafty, corrupt & unchristian; somewhat in it was good; he aimed at peace, he laid this ground, that the work was either of God or of man; and what was of man would come to naught, and what was of God could not be overthrown: But in this, very corrupt, that he would have us to judge of Religion by particular events, and that we should do nothing for the advancement of a good cause, but leave it to the providence of God. His arguments were fitted to his purpose, but true Religion is neither a matter of fancy, as was that of Theudas, nor of sedition, as was that of Judas of Galilee, and therefore all men ought to bend themselves to the settling thereof by all good and lawful means, Nor must ye in this work linger or delay upon any consent or concurrence whatsoever: It is true, where matters are dark or doubtful, ye should seek for light and resolution, and ye have to that end a learned and godly Assembly, but where matters are clear & manifest, if ye lie still waiting for the consent of others, ye are like to lose both the opportunity and the thing itself, as many have done, and repented themselves too late. There be some things wherein we are subject to God alone, and in things of this kind, we are not to wait for counsel or consent from others. It was the saying of Dioclesian, that a good and wise Emperor is often-sold by his Courtiers, who have a guard about his ears, and traduce goodmen for evil and commend evil men for good. As Balaam dealt not faithfully with God, so the messengers sent unto him did deal unfaithfully with King Balaam. It also true, that as at Rome, so in other places patres conscripti [the fathers that are conscripted], are sometimes patres circumscripti [the fathers that are restricted]. Nor must fear opposition or enmity, and thereby trouble to the State while Ye are seeking after Reformation. When Cassander one of the successors of Alexander was persuading them to receive Alexander to be worshipped amongst their Gods; and that if they refused, he would denounce war against them; Demades their Orator told them, that it was to be feared while they were holding the heavens, they should lose the earth. But I change the words with Peter Martyr, that it is to be feared ne dum Rempublicam terrenam curatis & defenditis nimium, coelum amittatis [while the Republic has not earthly care nor much defense, to lose heaven.], while Ye stand for the State, that You lose Religion. If Zerubbabel, Ezra or Nehemiah had delayed the building of the house of God, upon the opposition of enemies, or because there was Lions and Foxes in the way, the worship of God had never been set up, or Religion reformed; but the builders with one of their hands wrought in the work, & in the other hand held weapon. In this posture I leave you, till the house of the Lord be built amongst you, & your swords be turned into plough-shares, and your spears into pruning-hooks; that is, till truth & peace be established in your borders. The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform it: To him be praise for ever, Amen.