« PreviousContinue »
could convince the murmuring Ifraelites.
And when some of them saw Corah and his company swallowed up of the earth, yet as if there had been a transmigration of their Souls'inio their Survivors, the next morning they murmur again, saying, Ye have flain the people of the Lord. The worst sort of Spirits that we read of, might be cast out by Prayer and Fasting; but this kind can fast and pray, and seemingly reform and sweep and garnish the house, and then admit seven worse than iç Jelf, and at the end is worse than in the beginning. The Scripture compares this murmuring and rebellious spirit to the sin of Witchcraft which is leldom reclaimed to a pious or sober temper, for like men in a Consumption they seem pleased with the disease, and as Fonah'they ihink they do well to be angry with God himself, which is the next particular, it is not only irrational but irreligious.
First, because these men make lyes their refuge, and fuck to hide their fin under false pretences ; for it were easie to prove, that no times before Solomos were to prosperous as his. Though David his Father was a man after Gods own heart, yet neither he nor the Ark of God could find a resting place. It was yet worse in the days of Saul, between whom and the house of Da. vid there was continual war; and before that in the days of Samuel when God himself was their King, we find that they rejected not Samuelonly, but God himself. And in the times of Anarchy when there was no King in Ifrael, there was no peace to him that went out, or to him that came in, but every man did what seemed good in his own eyes. Before this how long did God bear with the murmuring Ifraelites, not in the wilderness only under Moses the meekest man upon Earth, and Haron the Saint of the Lord, but in Canaan against God
himself. And from the beginning Cain flew Abel, and so it will be to the end of the world. So that it was a false pretence that the former days were better than Solomons.
2. It was irreligious, because Religion teachethi us with all thankfulness to acknowledge the blessings of God and to lay with Jacob, I am less than the least of all thy mercies, and not to undervalue them, and expostulate with God why am I thus ? and what is the cause? as if the Almighty had not rewarded us according to our deserts, or ought to do nothing but what our reason ap
: proves of. They ought to have considered how happy they might have been under such a King, the Son of such a Father, upon whom God had set fuch Signatures of his own wisdom, Clemency and justice, whom God made his Jedidiah from his birth, and appeared more than once or twice in many wonderful deliverances of him against the Conspiracies of Jeroboam, the discontents of Joab, Abiathar and Shimei who went to Gath to confer with fugitives and imbroil the kingdom again. If we read of Solomons faults we read of his
repentance also, this Book of Ecclef. being a record of his Penitenrials. So that indeed the greatest cause of Evil in his later days was the libertinism of some who like fons of Belial would indure no yoak nor were satisfied till they had got an Indulgence, and were more unsatisfied after they had it. How much better had ic been for them while the true Religion and publick peace were in safery, to have been humble and thankful to God and the King, to reform their own iniquiries and to mourn in secret for the Vanities of the Court?
3. If Solomons days had been as bad as the sins of these : men deserved, yet were it a point of piery to submit to the mighty hand of God and bear his indignation. This
was Solomons prescript approved by God himself, z Chron. 6.24, &c. If the people flee before iheir enemies, if there be famive or peftilence. What is to be done? surely not as they did in the Prophet, fer. 8. 20. who did fret themselves and curse God and the King, and look upward, as if they would be revenged on all that were above them, but every man should search out the plague of his own heart and repent, and make his supplication in God's house saying, I have finned and done perverfly, and commit
ted iniquity, and then God promised to hear their prayers, PS:9.39.
to forgive their fins and heal their land. Thus did King David in his distress, he saw the hand of God in it, and
opened not his mouth because it was the Lords doing ; and 1 Kings with this God quiered the men of Judah and Benjamin 12.24. in the case of Jeroboam: This thing is from me. And
though they did not think so of King Solomon, yet they ought to think that God was wise enough to dispose of all things for the good of his Church and
people. God and his Vicegerents have their Arcana imperii not to be rafhly censured or curiously inquired into. We Ihould do our duty and leave the conduct of publick affairs to God whose Providence over-rules all, and it is much better that things lhould be as God would have them than as we would, for he acts all towards wife and gracious ends, to which though humane actions like the lower Spheres have a contrary tendency of their own, yet
the first mover makes them all tend to his decrees who brings order out of Confusion, and all whose
ways are mercy and truth to them that keep his Covenant. Non eft judicandum de operibus Dei ante quintum a&tum, we are short-sighted and cannot see to the end of Gods works which are begun in secret, & sometime carried on by contrary means, by weak and divers agents, but he knows how to bring light out of darkness and harmonyout of dis
cord, and all his providences shall end in Holiness and beauty too. This is that which Solomon observed, Eccles. 3. 11. God hath made every thing beautiful in its fesfon, when it comes to its perfection. Some may
think there is no necessity of Thunder and Lightning, Storms and Tempests, Frosts and Cold, yet these contribute to the cleansing of the Air, the health of our bodies and the fruitfulness of the year, as much as calm and Sun-shine days. In checker-work the variety of black and white adds to the beauty; and some works of Providence like the China vessels, are wrought and perfected in the bowels of the earth and require an age for their Perfection, but then they come forth so transparent that every
that considers them may say, This is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
4. It is irreligious, as being the ready way to destroy Religion, and if that be ruined, we may write Ichabod on all things else. And this is not more easily destroyed than by our murmurings and contentions about it; this Dove cannot fall but by a dart feathered from her own wing. The little Foxes within that undermine the Hedge of Discipline, make way for the wild Boar to break in and root up our pleasant Vines. 'Tis our crumbling into little factions under pretence of Religion, that exposeth us to the enemies of it. If the dangers we fear could but make us unite, our Union would make us safe against all the attempts of our common adversaries.
5. It is a tempting and provoking of God in a high degree to complain of those evils, whose causes and remedies are in our own power. But while we complain of them with our lips, we draw them down with both our hands. This is to do as the Jews who cryed out Venieat Romani, while they were Crucifying the Prince of Peace, and so made way for those Roman Armies that brought a perpetual desolation on them. If we only
A Sermon preached: 12 make an out-cry against Popery,and instead of making up: the breaches still inlarge them by quarrelling with such as are more
ready and skilful to do it than our selves, that Roman Eagle may make a prey. of us all. ' But if, as. God hath founded us-upon a rock, and compassed us about with his Salvation as with Walls and Bulworks, we would be as Jerusalem, a people at unity among our selves; if as St. Paul adviseth, we would do our duties to God and the King without murmurings and disputings, those proud Waves that oppose themselves would be dasht in pieces as hitherto they have been, and neither the gates of Rome nor of Hell prevail against us.
Lastly, It is irreligious, because it destroys the whole Analogy of Christian Faith, it reflects on Gods Providence, as if he wanted Wisdom or Goodness to Govern the world, and sets their mouths against Heaven, as that proud Alfonfus who said of the Creation, that if he had been present he could have disposed of things in a better method. It undermines the foundation of all Government in Church and State and Families, if Inferiors should be allowed to question the Commands and Actions of their Superiors; it makes those Christian graces of meekness, patience and obedience, which are. injoyned towards evil Governours, impossible. It robs the Soul of that tranquillity and peace which it might have by resigning itself to God in well-doing. The Ipi
rit of grace and peace will not enter into a discontented 1 Kings fpirit. God was not in the earthquake or the whirlwind,
but in the still voice, in the fedate and chearful Soul. And therefore Moseis calls the murmuring Ifraelites, finners against their own Souls, ().e. against their peace and comforts of their life.) The Serpent will devour the Dove, and these meager thoughts, like Pharaohs, lean. kine, eat up better thoughts and affectionsTo a mur. muring Soul wisdom will not enter.. And in a word, ir
19.11. Numb. 16.38.