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“ hath he made with me an everlasting covenant, well ordered " in all things and sure; this is all my salvation, and all my ► desire, though he make it not to grow." He could fetch all reliefs, all comforts, and salvation out of it, and why cannot we? He desired do more for the support of his heart; this is all my desire ; and fure if we understood and believed it as he did, we could desire no more to quiet and comfort our hearts thao what this covenant affords us. For,
1. Are we afraid what our enemies will do? We know we are in the midtt of potent, politic, and enraged enemies; we have heard what they have done, and fee what they are preparing to do agaio. We tremble to think what bloody tragedies are like to be acted over again in the world by their cruel hands : But O what heroic and noble acts of faith should the covenant of God enable thee to exert amidst all these fears? If God be thy God, then thou hast an Almighty God on thy fide, and that is enough to extinguish all these fears, Pfal. cxviii, 6. “ The Lord is
on my side, I will not fear what man can do unto me.” Your fcars come in the name of man, but your help in the name of the Lord: Let them plot, threaten, yea, and smite too; God is a Thield to all that fear him, and if God be for us, who can be against us?
2. Are we afraid what God will do ? fear it not, your God will do nothing against your good; think 1:0t that he may forget you, it cannot be; sooner may a tender mother forget her fucking child, Isa. xlix. 15. no, no, “ He withdraweth not his
eye from the righteous, Job. xxxvi. 7. His eyes are continually upon all the dangers and wants of your souls and bodies, there is not a Jaeger or an enemy stirring against you, but his cye is upon it, 2 Chron. xvi. 9.
Are you afraid he will forsake and cast you off? It is true, your sins have deserved he should do so, but he hath secured you fully against that fear in his covenant, Jer. xxxii. 40. “ I will
not turn away from them, to do them good.” All your fears of God's forgetting or forsaking you, spring out of your igaorance of the covenant.
3. Are you afraid what you shall do? It is usual for the people of God to propose difficult cases to themselves, and put Itariling quellions to their own hearts; and there may be an excellent use of them to rouze them out of security, put them upon the search and trial of their conditions and estates, and make preparation for the worft; but Satan usually improves it to a quite contrary end, to deject, affright, and discourage them. O if fiery trials (hould come, if my liberty and life come once to be touched in earnest, I fear I shall never have strength to go on a step farther in the way of religion : I am afraid I fall faint in the first encounter, I shall deny the words of the holy One, make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience in the first gust of temptation. I can hear, and pray,
and profess; but I doubt I cannot burn, or bleed, or lie in a i dungeon for Christ. If I can scarce run with footmen in the
land of peace, how do I think to contend with horses in these i swellings of Jordan ?
But yet all these are but groundless fears, either forged in thy owo misgiving heart, or secretly shuffled by Satan into it; for God hath abundantly secured thee against fear in this very particular, by that most sweet, supporting, and blessed promise, annexed to the former, in the same text, Jer. xxxii. 40. “ I will
put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from * me.” Here is another kind of fear, than that which so startles chee, promised to be put into thy heart, not a fear to shake and undermine thy assurance, as this doth, but to guard and maintain it. And this is the fear that shall be enabled to vanquish and expel all thy other fears.
4. Or are you afraid what the church shall do ? And what will become of the ark of God ? Do you see a storm gathering, winds begin to roar, the waves to swell; and are you afraid what will become of that vessel the church, in which you have so great an interest ?
It is an argument of the publicness and excellency of thy fpirit, to be thus touched with the feeling sense of the church's fufferings, and dangers. Most men seek their own things, and bot the things that are Christ's, Phil. ii. 21. But yet, it is your fin fo to fear, as to fiok and faint under a spirit of despondency, and discouragement, which yet many good men are but too apt to do. I remember an excellent passage in a letter of Luther's to Melancthon
this very account. • la private troubles, faith he, I am weaker, and thou art stronger; thou despiseft thy own life, but fearest the public cause : but for the public I am at rest, being affured that the cause is just and
true, yea, that it is Chrilt's and God's cause. I am well nigh ' a secure spectator of things, and esteem not any thing these ' fierce and threating Papists can do. I beseech thee by Chrift,
neglect oot so divine promiss and consolations, where the 'scripture faith, Caft thy care upon the Lord, wait upon the VOL. IV.
* Epift. ad Melanct. Anno 1549,
• Lord, be strong, and he shall comfort thy heart' And it another epistle ! 'I much dislike those anxious cares, which as
thou writeft do almost consume thee. It is not the greatpefs of the danger, but the greatness of thy unbelief. John Hufs " and oihers were under greater danger than we; and if it • be great, he is great that orders it. Why do you afflict your• felt? if the caule be bad, let us renounce' it; if it be good,
why do we make him a liar who bids us be still ? as if you • were able to do any good by such noprofitable cares. I be • feech thee, thou that in other things art valiant, fight a• gaiot thyself, thine owo greatest enemy, that puts weapons «in to Satan's hand.'
You see how good men may be even overwhelmed with poblic fears; but certainly if we did well consider the bond of the covenant that is betwixt God and his people, we should be more quiet and composed. For by reason thereof it is, 1. That God is in the midst of them, Pfal. xlvi. 1, 2, 3, 4. When any great danger threatened the reformed church in its tender beginning, in Luther's time, he would fay, Come let us hing the xlvi. Psalm ; and indeed it is a lovely fong for fuch times, it bears the title of A Song upon Alamoth, or a long for the hidden ones, God is with them to cover them under his wings. 2. And it is plain matter of fact, evident to all the world, that no people under the heavens have been so long and so wonderfully preserved as the church hath been ; it hath over-lived many bloody massacres; terrible perfecutions, subtle and cruel enemies ; ftill God hath preserved and delivered it, for his promifes oblige him to do it, amongst which those two are signal and eminent ones, Jer. xxx. 11. Ifa. xxvii. 3. And it is obvious to all that will consider things, that there are the felf-fame motives in God, and the self fame grounds and reasons before him, to take care of his church and people, that ever were in him, or did ever lie before him from the beginning of the world. For (1.) The relation is still the same. What though Abraham, Isaac, 'and Jacob, those renowned believers, be in their graves, and those that fúcceed be far inferior to them in grace and spiritual excellency; yet faith the church, doubtless thou art cur Father. There is the fame tie and bond betwixt the Father and the youngest weakest child in the family, as the eldest and strongelt. (2.) His pity and mercy is still the same, for that endures for ever: his bowels years as tenderly over his people in their present, as ever they did in any paft afflictions, or ftraits. (3.) The rage
+ Anno 1530
and walice of his and his peoples enemies is still the same, they will reflect as blasphemously and dishonourably upon God now, should be give up his people, as ever they did. Moses's argu. meat is as good now as ever it was, What will the Egyptians, fay? and so is Joshua's too, What wilt thou do unto thy great name? Oh! if these things were more throughly Audied and believed, they would appeare many fears.
2. Rule. Work upon your hearts the confideration of the many mischiefs and miseries men draw upon themselves and others, both in this world and that to come, by their own sinful fears.
1. The miseries and calamities that sinful fear brings upon men in this world are unspeakable : this is it that hath plunged the consciences of so many poor wretches into fuch deep distreffes ; this it is that hath put them upon the rack, and made them roar like men in hell among the damned. Some have been recovered, and others have perished in these deeps of korror and despair. " * In the year 1550 there was at Ferrara in " Italy one Fauinus, who by reading good books was by the
grace of God converted to the knowledge of the truth, where" in he found such sweetness, that by constant reading, medi" tation, and prayer, he grew fo expert in the scriptures, that he “ was able to instruct others; and though he durft not go out " of the bounds of his calling to preach openly, yet by confe
rence and private exhortations he did good to many. This
coming to the knowledge of the pope's clients, they appre. " hended and committed him to prison, where he renounced " the truth, and was thereupon released: but it was not long “ before the Lord met with him for it; fo as falling into hor“ rible torments of conscience, he was near unto utter de" (pair ; por could he be freed fron those terrors, before he “ had fully resolved to venture his life more faithfully in the " service of Christ.”
Dreadful was that voice which poor Spira seemed to hear in his owo conscience, as soon as ever his Gipful fears had prevailed upon him to renounce the truth. “ Thou wicked wretch, " thou hast depied me, thou hast renounced the covenant of " thine obedience, thou hast broken thy vow; hence, apostate, “ bear with thee the seotence of thine eterna? damgation." Presently he falls into a swoon, quaking and trembling, and still affirmed to his death, " That from that time he never found
any case or peace iq his mind;" but professed, “ that he was
“ captivated under the reveoging hand of the Almighty God " and that he continually heard the sentence of Christ, the ju ! judge against him; and that he knew he was utterly undon “ and
could neither hope for grace, or that Christ Thould igter “cede for him to the Father.'
In our dreadful Marian days, Sir John Cheek, who had beer tutor to King Edward VI. was cast into the Tower, and kept close prisoner, and there put to this miserable choice, citber to forego his rife, or that which was more precious, his liberty of conscience is neither could his liberty be procured by his great friends at any lower rate than to recant his religion : This he was very unwilling to accept of, 'till bis hard imprisonment, joined with threats of much worse iq case of his refusal, at last wrought so upon him, whilst be consulted with flesh and blood, as drew from him an abrenunciation of that truth which he had so long professed, and still believed: Upon this he was restored to his liberty, but never to his comfort; for the sense of his own apoftacy, and the daily fight of the cruel butcheries exercised upon others for their constant adherence to the truth, made fuch deep impressions upon his broken spirit, as brought him to a speedy end of his life, yet pot without some comfort. able hopes at lan.
Our own histories abound with multitudes of such doleful examples.
Some have been in such horror of conscience, that they have chosen straogling rather than life; they have felt that anguish of conscience that hath put them upon desperate resolutions, and attempts, against their own lives to rid themselves of it. This was the case of Peter Moon, who being driven by his own fears to deny the truth, presently fell into such horror of conscience, that seeing a sword hanging in his parlour, would have heatbed it in his own bowels. So Francis Spira, before-mentioned, when he was near his end, saw a knife on the table, and running to it, would have mischiefed himself, had not his friends provented him; thereupon he faid, Oh! that I were above God, for I know that he will have no mercy on me. Helay about eight weeks (faith the historian) in a continual burning, neither defiring, or receiving any thing but by force, and that without digestion, till he became as an anatomy ; vehemently raging for drink, yet fearful to live long; dreadful of hell, yet coveting death; in a continual torment, yet his own tormentor ; and thus corsuming himself with grief and horror, impatience and despair, like a living man in hell
, he represented an extraordinary example of God's ju Mice and power, and so ended his miserable life.