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prayers are seldom of God. 5. You may more freely rejoice afterwards, than desire it before: because when a Julian is cut off, you know that God’s righteous will is accomplished ; when before you knew not that it was his will : yet after, it is the deliverance of the church, and not the hurt of a persecutor as such, that you must give thanks for : be very suspicious here, lest partiality and passion blind you'..
Direct. 1x. ‘Learn how to suffer; and know what use God can make of your sufferings, and think not better of prosperity, and worse of suffering, than you have cause *.’ It is a carnal, unbelieving heart, that maketh so great a matter of poverty, imprisonment, banishment or death, as if they were undone, if they suffer for Christ, or be sent to heaven before the time; as if kingdoms must be disturbed to save you from suffering : this better beseems an infidel or a worldling, that takes his earthly prosperity for his portion, and thinks he hath no other to win or lose. Do you not know what the church hath gained by suffering? How pure it hath been when the fire of persecution hath refined it? And how prosperity hath been the very thing that hath polluted it, and shattered it all to pieces; by letting in all the ungodly world, into the visible communion of the saints, and by setting the bishops on contending for superiority, and overtopping emperors and kings 2 Many thousands that would be excellent persons in adversity, cannot bear a high or prosperous state, but their brains are turned, and pride and contention maketh them the scorn of the adversaries that observe them.
* They are dangerous passages which Petrarch hath, though a good, learned and moderate man. Dial. 49. Non tot passim essent domini nectam late surerent, nisi populi insanirentet cuique civium prose charior foretres privata quam publica; voluptas quam gloria, pecunia quam libertas, vita quam virtus Et statim—Et sane sivel unum patria civem bonum habeat, malum dominum diutius non habebit. The meaning is too plain: abundance of the most learned writers have such passages which must be read with caution; though I would draw none to the other extreme. Petrarch's 68 Dial. and 85 Dial. de bono domino, is as smart as the former; but yet speaketh not all that “contra reges,' which he doth ‘contra dominos.” However he says that, Inter regem et tyrannum non discernunt Graii, &c. So Sir Thomas More in his Poems: Regibus e multis regnum bene qui reget unum: vix tamen unus erit, si tamen unus erit. And that of Senec. Trag. ult. Tantum ut noceat, cupit esse potens-—
& Bias interrogatus, quidnam esset difficile 2 Ferre, inquit, fortiter mutationem rerum in deterius. Diog. Laert. lib. i. sect.86. p. 54.
Direct. x. “Trust God, and live by faith; and then you will find no need of rebellious or any sinful means.” Do you believe, that both the hearts and lives of kings, and all their affairs, are in the hands of God? If not, you are atheists. If you do, then do you not think that God is fitter than you to dispose of them? He that believeth, will not make haste. Deliverance from persecutions must be prayed and waited for, and not snatched by violence, as a hungry dog will snatch the meat out of his master's hands, and bite his fingers. Do you believe, “That all shall work together for good to them that love God"?” And do you believe, that the godly are more than conquerors; when they are killed all day, and counted as sheep unto the slaughter"? And do you believe, that is cause of exceeding joy, when for the sake of righteousness you are hated and perecuted, and all manner of evil is falsely spoken of you ‘7 If you do not, you believe not Christ; if you do, will you strive by sinful means against your own good, and happiness, and joy Will you desire to conquer, when you may be more than conquerors ? Certainly, the use of sinful means doth come from secret unbelief and diffidence. Learn to trust God, and you will easily be subject to your governors.
Direct. x1. ‘Look not for too great matters in the world: take it but for that wilderness which is the way to the promised land of rest.’ And then you will not count it strange to meet with hard usage and sufferings from almost all. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as if some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice in that ye are partakers of the sufferings of Christ".” Are you content with God and heaven for your portion ? If not, how are you Christians; if you are, you have small temptation to rebel or use unlawful means for earthly privileges". Paul saith, “He took pleasure in persecution".” Learn you to do so, and you will easily bear them.
Direct. x 11. ‘Abhor the popular spirit of envy, which maketh the poor, for the most part, think odiously of the rich and their superiors; because they have that which they had rather have themselves.' I have long observed it, that the poor labouring people, are very apt to speak of the rich, as sober men speak of drunkards; as if their very estates, and dignity, and greatness were a vice". And it is very much to flatter their own conscience, and delude themselves with ungrounded hopes of heaven. When they have not the Spirit of regeneration and holiness, to witness their title to eternal life, they think their poverty will serve the turn; and they will ordinarily say, That they hope God will not punish them in another world, because they have had their part in this: but they will easily believe, that almost all rich and great men go to hell. And when they read Luke xvi. of the rich man and Lazarus, they think they are the Lazarus's, and read it as if God would save men merely for being poor, and damn men for being great and rich ; when yet they would themselves be as rich and great, if they knew how to attain it. They think that they are the maintainers of the commonwealth, and the rich are the caterpillars of it, that live upon their labours, like drones in the hive, or mice and vermin that eat the honey, which the poor labouring bees have long been gathering. For they are unacquainted with the labours and cares of their governors, and sensible only of their own. This envious spirit exceedingly disposeth the poor to discontents, and tumults, and rebellions; but it is not of God". Direct. x 111. ‘Keep not company with envious murmurers at government; for their words fret like a canker, and their sin is of an infecting kind.” What a multitude were drawn into the rebellion of Corah, who no doubt, were provoked by the leader's discontented words. It seemeth they were for popularity. “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord:—— Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness; except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?–– Wilt thou put out the eyes of these men P2’” What confidence, and
h Rom. viii. 28. * Verse 32—35. * Matt. v. 10–12. | 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13. m Phil. iii. 7, 8.11, 12. n 2 Cor. xii. 10.
• Univers. Hist. p. 140. Dicas imperatorem orbis Epictetum, Neronem mancipium: irrisun esse summo fastigio, cum serviret dignus, imperaret indignus; nullumque esse malum, quin aliqua boni gutta cordiatus.
• James iii. 15-17. p Numb. xvi. 3, 13, 14.
what fair pretences are here 2 so probable and plausible to the people, that it is no wonder that multitudes were carried to rebellion by it? Though God disowned them by a dreadful judgment, and shewed whom he had chosen to be the governors of his people. Direct. xiv. ‘Keep humble, and take heed of pride.” The humble are ready to obey and yield, and not only to be subject to magistrates, but to all men, even voluntarily to be subject to them that cannot constrain them. “Be all of you subject one to another".” It is no hard matter for a twig to bow, and for a humble soul to yield and obey another, in any thing that is lawful. But the proud take subjection for vassalage, and obedience for slavery, and say, “Who is Lord over us; our tongues are our own; what Lord shall control us? Will we be made slaves to such and such'.” “Only from pride cometh contention’.” By causing impatience, it causeth disobedience and sedition. Direct. xv. ‘Meddle not uncalled with the matters of superiors, and take not upon you to censure their actions, whom you have neither ability, fitness or authority to censure.” How commonly will every tradesman and labourer at his work, be censuring the counsels and government of the king; and speaking of things, which they never had means sufficiently to understand. Unless you had been upon the place, and heard all the debates and consultations, and understood all the circumstances and reasons of the business, how can you imagine that at so great a distance you are competent judges? Fear God, and judge not that you be not judged . If busybodies and meddlers with other men's matters, among equals, are condemned"; much more when they meddle, and that censoriously, with the matters of their governors. If you would please God, know, and keep your places, as soldiers in an army, which is their comely order and their strength. Direct. x v1. ‘Consider the great temptations of the rich and great; and pity them that stand in so dangerous a station, instead of murmuring at them, or envying their greatness.’ You little know what you should be your‘l 1 Pet. v. 15. * Psal. xii. 6, 7. Prov. xvi. 18. xix. 23.
* Prov. xiii. 10. * Matt, vii. 1–3. " 2.Thess. iii. 11. 1 Tim. v. 13, 1 Pet. iv. 15.
selves, if you were in their places, and the world, and the flesh, had so great a stroke at you, as they have at them. He that can swim in a calmer water, may be carried down a violent stream. It is harder for that bird to fly, that hath many pound weights tied to keep her down, than that which hath but a straw to carry to her nest. It is harder mounting heaven-wards with lordships and kingdoms, than with your less impediments. Why do you not pity them that stand on the top of barren mountains, in the stroke of every storm and wind, when you dwell in the quiet, fruitful vales? Do you envy them that must go to heaven, as a camel through a needle's eye, if they come there 2 And are you discontented, that you are not in their condition ? Will you rebel and fight to make your salvation as difficult as theirs? Are you so unthankful to God for your safer station, that you murmur at it, and long to be in the more dangerous place 2 Direct. xv.11. ‘Pray constantly and heartily for the spiritual and corporal welfare of your governors.’ And you have reason to believe, that God who hath commanded you to put up such prayers, will not suffer them to be wholly lost, but will answer them some way to the benefit of them that perform the duty". And the very performance of it will do us much good of itself; for it will keep the heart well disposed to our governors, and keep out all sinful desires of their hurt; or control them and cast them out, if they come in: prayer is the exercise of love and good desires; and exercise increaseth and confirmeth habits. If any ill wishes against your governors should steal into your minds, the next time you pray for them, conscience will accuse you of hypocrisy, and either the sinful desires will corrupt or end your prayers, or else your prayers will cast out those ill desires. Certainly the faithful, fervent prayers of the righteous, do prevail much with God: and things would go better than they do in the world, if we prayed for rulers as heartily as we ought. Object. ‘For all the prayers of the church, five parts of six of the world are yet idolaters, heathens, infidels, and Mahometans : and for all the prayers of the reformed churches, most of the Christian part of the world are drowned in Popery, or gross ignorance and superstition, and the - * 1 Tim. ii. 1–3.