תמונות בעמוד

with the people of these abominations, by whom they had been detained in a long captivity ; this, I say, seems to have had, both from the nature of the thing, and the just judgment of God, no small influence upon a great part of the miseries and calamities which have befallen us. For had it not been for the countenance which Popery had by the marriages and alliances of our princes, for two or three generations together, with those of that religion, it had not probably had a continuance among us to this day : which will, I hope, now be a good warning to those who have the authority to do it, to make effectual provision by law for the prevention of the like inconvenience and mischief in this nation for ever.

2. Another parallel between our case and that in the text is, that God hath punished us less than our iniquities did deferve. And this acknowledgment we have as much reason to make for ourselves, as Ezra had to do it in behalf of the Jews : Thou our God haft punished us less than our iniquities deserve. Thou our God hall punished us; there is the reason of so much mercy and mitigation. It is God, and not man, with whom we have to do; and therefore it is that we the children of men are not consumed. And it is our God likewise, to whom we have a more peculiar relation, and with whom, by virtue of our profession of Christianity, we are in covenant : Thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deferve. He might justly have poured forth all his wrath, and have made his jealousy to have smoked against us, and have blotted out the remembrance of us from under heaven; he might have given us up to the will of our enemies, and into the hands of those whose tender mercies are cruelty; he might have brought us into the net which they had spread for us, and have laid a terrible load of affliction upon our loins, and suffered insolent men to ride over our heads, and them that hated us with a perfect hatred to have had the rule over us : but he was graciously pleased to remember mercy in the midst of judgment, and to repent himself for his servants, when he saw that their power was gone; and that things were come to that extremity, that we were in all human probability utterly unable to have wrought out our own deliverance. 3. The last parallel between our case and that in the V 2


[ocr errors]

text is, the great and wonderful deliverance which God hath wrought for us. And whilst I am speaking of this, God is my witness, whom I serve in the gospel of his Son, that I do not say one word upon this occafion-in flattery to men, but in true thankfulness to almighty God; and constrained thereto from a just sense of his great mercy to us all, in this marvellous deliverance, in this mighty salvation which he wrought for us.

So that we may say with Ezra, Since tlou our God haft given us such a deliverance as THIS; so great, that we know not how to compare it with any thing but itself. God hath given us this deliverance. And therefore, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name be the praise : for thou knowest, and we are conscious to ourselves, that we did in no ways deserve it, but quite the contrary. God hath given it, and it ought to be so much the welcomer to us for coming from such a hand. It is the Lord's doing, and therefore ought to be the more marvellous in our eyes. It is a deliverance full of mercy, and, I had almost faid, full of miracle: the finger of God was visibly in it; and there are plain signatures and characters upon it, of a more immediate divine interposition. And if we will not wisely consider the Lord's doing, we have reason to stand in awe of that threatening of his, Psal. xxviii. 5. Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build

It was a wonderful deliverance indeed, if we consider all the circumstances of it: the greatness of it; the strangeness of the means vihereby it was brought about; and the suddenness and easiness of it.

The greatness of it. It was a great deliverance, from the greatest fears, and from the greatest dangers ; apparent and imminent danger of the saddest thraldom and bondage, civil and spiritual, both of foul and body.

And it was brought about in a very extraordinary manner, and by very strange means: whether we confider the greatness and difficulty of the enterprize; or the closeness and secrecy of the design, which must of necessity be communicated at least to the chief of those who were to assist and engage in it, especially the states of the United Provinces, who were then in so much dan


them up.

ger themselves, and wanted more than their own forces for their own defence and security, (a kindness never to be forgotten by the English nation); and, besides all this, the difficulties and disappointments which happened, after the design was open and manifest, from the uncertainties of wind and weather, and many other accidents impossible to be foreseen and prevented : and yet in conclufion a strange concurrence of all things on all Gides, to bring the thing which the providence of God intended to a happy issue and effect.

And we must not here forget the many worthies of our nation, who did fo generously run all hazards of life and fortune, for the preservation of our religion, and the asserting of our ancient laws and liberties.

These are all strange and unusual means : but, which is stranger yet, the very counsels and methods of qur enemies did prepare the way for all this ; and perhaps more effectually, than any counsel and contrivance of our own could have done it.

For even the Jesuits, those formal politicians by book and rule, without any consideration, or true knowledge of the temper, and interest, and other circumstances of the people they were designing upon, and had to deal withal ; and indeed without any care to know them: I say, the Jesuits, who, for so long a time, and for so little reason, have affected the reputation of the deepest and craftieft statesmen in the world, have upon this great, occasion, and when their whole kingdom of darkness lay at stake, by a more than ordinary infatuation and blindness, so outwitted and over-reached themselves in their own counsels, that they have really contributed as much, or more, to our deliverance from the destruction which they had designed to bring upon us, than all our wisest and best friends could have done.

And then, if we consider further, how sudden and surprising it was, so that we could hardly believe it when it was accomplished ; and, like the children of Ifrael, when the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. When all things were driving on furiously, and in great haste, then God gave an unexpected check to the designs of men, and stopped them in their full career. Who among us could have ima

U 3

gined gined but a few months ago, so happy and so speedy an end of our fears and troubles ? God hath at once scattered all our fears, and outdone all our hopes, by the greatness and suddenness of our deliverance. O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

And, lastly, if we consider the cheapness and easiness of this deliverance. All this was done without a battle, and almost without blood. All the danger is, lest we should lothe it, and grow sick of it, because it was so very easy. Had it come upon harder terms, and had we waded to it through a Red sea of blood, we would have valued it more. But this surely is great wantonness, and, whatever we think of it, one of the highest provocations imaginable. For there can hardly be a fouler and blacker ingratitude towards almighty God, than to flight so great a deliverance, only because it came to us so easily, and hath cost us so very cheap.

I will mention but one circumstance more, which may not be altogether unworthy our observation : That God seems, in this last deliverance, in some fort to have united and brought together all the great deliverances which he hath been pleased to work for this nation, against all the remarkable attempts of Popery from the beginning of our reformation. Our wonderful deliverance from the formidable Spanish invasion designed against us, happened in the year 1588 : and now, just a hundred years after, God was pleased to bring about this last great and most happy deliverance. That horrid gunpowder conspiracy, without precedent, and without parallel, was designed to have been executed upon the fifth day of November ; the same day upon which his Highness the Prince of Orange landed the forces here in England, which he brought hither for our rescue. So that this is a day every way worthy to be solemnly set apart and joyfully celebrated by this church and nation throughout all generations, as the fittest of all other to comprehend, and to put us in mind to commemorate all the great deliverances, which God hath wrought for us, from Popery, and its inseparable companion, arbitrary power. And we may then say with the holy Psalmist,


Psal. cxviii. 23. 24. This is the Lord's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Secondly, As the case in the text is much like ours, so let us take heed, that the doom and sentence there be not so too. If after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, and since God hath punished us less than our iniquities did deserve; jould we again break his commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations, would he not be angry with us till he had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? What could we in reason expect after all this, but utter ruin and destruction ? We


apply, as St. Paul does God's dealing with the people of Ifrael, to the times of the gospel : for he speaks of it, as an example and admonition to all ages to the end of the world. Now these things, says the Apostle, 1 Cor. x. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lufted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, &c. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. For the explication of this passage, we must have recourse to the history, which gives this account of it, Numb. xxi. 5.6. And the ple spake against God, and against Mofes, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness ? &c. impeaching God, and his servant Mofes, as if, by this deliverance, they had put them into a much worse condition, than they were in when they were in Egypt. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died. But how was this a tempting of Christ? Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted; that is, let not us, now under the gospel, tempt our Saviour and Deliverer, as the Israelites did theirs, by flighting that great deliverance, and by speaking against God, and against Moses. `Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. And how far this may concern us, and all others, to the end of the world, who shall tempt Christ, the great patron and deliverer of his church, and murmur without cause, as the Ifraelites did, at the deliverances which he works for



« הקודםהמשך »