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We must acknowledge that God's word hath taken hold of us, Zech. i. 5. that the Lord hath devised a device against us, hath watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us; for under the whole heaven hath not been done, as hath been done upon Jerusalem. Dan. ix. 14.
Let us not flatter ourselves presumptuously. The punishment answers the sin, as the wax the seal, and as the mould owns the figure: and let us own both. It is
very dangerous to bless ourselves too boldly; God has cursed our blessings, Mal. ii. 2. And that he may bless to us our very curses, let us take with us words and say, To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, and multiplied pardons ; to us shame and confusion, as at this day. The most compendious way to get what belongs to God, is, to take to ourselves what belongs to us. If we would judge ourselves, and every man, knowing the plague of his own heart, lay God's dealing to heart; and, accepting of our punishment, give glory to God, and humble ourselves under his mighty hand; then shall God exalt us, and accept us, and take away our reproach.
If we shall confess our sins, that, like Simeon and Levi, we have been brethren in evil, have broken the covenant of Levi, have done violence to, and been partial in the law, have made ourselves vile, and therefore are justly, by God, made contemptible and base before the people, Mal. ii. If we shall confess, that we neither understood nor valued our high and holy calling as Christians, much less as ministers of Christ; that we did not thrive kindly, when Providence had planted and watered us in those horns of oil, the two universities; or that, when it had removed us into country cures, we did not fructify (as this book will shew) in any proportion to his encouragements, and therefore are justly cashiered out of his service, and stript of his rewards: God is faithful and just to forgive us : for, Job xxxii. 27. he looks upon men; if any say, I have sinned, I have perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from the pit, his life shall see the light.
And now, let none think, that this confession will give advantage to the adversaries; they may take where none is given : they may say, “ Let the Lord be glorified: by “ their own confession, we offend not, though we devour “ them, because they have sinned against the Lord, the “ habitation of justice.” Jer. 1. 7. But they will find at last, that to forsake the Levite is a sin; that it is a: bitter thing to help forward affliction, when God is but a little displeased : that Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling, and a burdensome stone to every one that cries but, Down with it. Woe to thee, O Assur, the rod of God's anger; the staff in thine hand is God's indignation. Thou, Lord, hast ordained him for judgment, and established him for correction; even for our correction, to purify us sons of Levi from our dross; (howbeit, he meaneth not so;) and by his hand, who punisheth us not only for that which is sin, to put on us martyr's robes; by that contrivance both chastening and covering our sins; as the Persians use their nobles, beating their clothes, and saving their persons.
There can be no credit lost by giving glory to God. Did Achan lose any thing by confessing that God had found him out, and his garment, and his wedge? Hath not Adonibezek got a fame of ingenuity, for acknowledging God's art of justicing, in that most exact way of counter passion or retaliation, which is so frequent in these times, though it is not considered ? What lost Luther by confessing his personal defects as to God, though he yielded not a jot in his cause as to men ? What enemy ever upbraided that to him? or this to the ingenuous learned Cajetan ? his humble and seasonable confession upon lasting record in his comments on the thirteenth verse of the fifth chapter of saint Matthew's Gospel: Ye are the salt -if the salt have lost, &c. ? The French army had taken Rome, when he was about that text, and offered great abuse to the clergy there: which he christianly resenting, inserts this passage; “We prelates of the church of Rome “ do at this time find this truth verified on us in a special “ measure ? being by the just judgment of God become a
spoil, and a prey, and captives; not to infidels, but to “ Christians; because we who were chosen to be the salt “ of the earth, evanuimus, were become light persons, and “ unsavoury, good for nothing but outward ceremonies, " and externa bona, the revenues temporal. Hence it is “ that both we and this city be trodden under foot this “ sixth of May, 1527." And that excellent Charles the Fifth is honourable for no one thing more, than for acknowledging the hand of God upon him, both at that pinch which made him pant out, Jam - me ab omnibus desertum video ; and upon a lesser occasion than that, namely, when his domestics had left him all alone late at night, and he would needs hold the candle to Seldius, shewing him the way down the stairs, and up to God, he said, 66 Thine
have seen me environed with great armies; “ now thou seest me abandoned of mine ordinary servants.
“ I acknowledge this change to come from him with whom “is no shadow of change, from the mighty hand of God, “and I will by no means withstand it.” And it is reported that the Scottish presbyters, sensible of God's hand upon them, are at this time making their addresses to God, by confession of their sins respectively: God grant that both we and they may do it right. Though I shall still strive with them about the justice of the First Cause; yet about the justness of our persons will I not strive with them, nor about any other matter, save only who shall confess them. selves greater sinners to God. I have omitted David, Psalm li. and Ezra, and Nehemiah, and Daniel in their ninth chapters, and cited only these to confirm myself, and thee, brother, in this duty of giving glory to God in this manner, Et confiteantur tibi omnes populi : even so, true and righteous are thy judgments in all the world, O Lord God Almighty; yea, merciful are they, and far below our deservings.
I hope no man will think, though I speak thus, that I give him leave to construe my words mathematically, as if there was not an atom or hair of a good man, or man of God, in our church. There were divers primitive, (and are at this day, blessed be God; the Lord make them a thousand times more than they are,) holy, and heavenly souls, vessels chosen and fitted for the service of the sanctuary. I shall be bold to instance in three who died in peace; few considering (some did) that they were taken away from the evil to come, lest their eyes should see (what their spirits foresaw) what is come on us, on whom the days, not of visitation only, but of vengeance, even the ends of the world are come.
The first of these was Thomas Jackson, D. D. late president of Corpus Christi college in Oxford, and sometime vicar of St. Nicholas church in Newcastle upon Tyne; two places that must give account to God for the good they had, or might have had, by that man; as all scholars must for his neglected works.
The second was Mr. Nicholas Farrer, of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, sometimes fellow-commoner and fellow of Clare-hall in Cambridge.
The third was the author of this book, Mr. George Herbert, fellow of Trinity college, orator of the university of Cambridge, and rector of Bemerton in Wiltshire. All three holy in their lives, eminent in their gifts, signal protestants for their religion, painful in their several stations, precious in their deaths, and sweet in their memories.
First, I will give thee a brief of some confrontments common to them all, and then some of their, at least this author's, proper excellencies apart.
1. They all had that inseparable lot and sign of Christ and Christians, (Isa. viii. 18. Heb. ii. 13. Luke ii. 34.) to be signs of contradiction, (or spoken against,) men wondered at, and rated by the world. Doctor Jackson in two particulars suffered much. 1. He had like to have been sore shent by the parliament in the year 1628, for tenets in divinity, I cannot say, so far driven by him, as by some men now they are with great applause. His approach to unity was very near. “Grant me," saith he, but these 66 two things, that God has a true freedom in doing good, “ and man a true freedom in doing evil:" there needs be no other controversy betwixt the opposites in point of providence and predestination. See his Epist. dedicat. to his sixth book. 2. He had an adversary in England who writ a book against him, with a title not so kindly as might have been devised. It was this; A Discovery of Dr. Jackson's Follies : which he bound as an ornament upon him, (as Job says,) that is, never answered but in the language of the lamb dumb before the shearer, silence and sufferance. And he had one in Scotland who also girded at him, without
cause or answer.
And for Mr. Farrer, he was so exercised with contradictions, as no man, that lived so private as he desired to do, could possibly be more.
I have heard him say, valuing (not resenting his own) sufferings in this kind, that “ to fry
a fagot was not more martyrdom than continual obloquy. He was torn asunder as with mad horses, or crushed betwixt the upper and under millstone of contrary reports ; that he was a papist, and that he was a puritan. What is, if this be not, to be sawn asunder as Esay, stoned as Jeremy, made a drum, or tympanized, as other saints of God were ? And after his death, when, by injunction, which he laid upon
his friends when he lay on his death-bed, a great company of comedies, tragedies, love hymns, heroical poems, &c. were burnt
grave, as utter enemies to Christian principles and practices, (that was his brand,) some poor people said, he was a conjurer.
And for our author, (the sweet singer of the temple,) though he was one of the most prudent and accomplished men of his time, I have heard sober men censure him as a man that did not manage his brave parts to his best advantage and preferment, but lost himself in an humble way; that was the phrase, I well remember it.
The second thing wherein all three agreed, was a singular sincerity in embracing, and transcendent dexterity in defending, the protestant religion established in the church of England. I speak it in the presence of God, I have not read so hearty, vigorous a champion against Rome, (amongst our writers of his rank,) so convincing and demonstrative as Dr. Jackson is. I bless God for the confirmation which he hath given me in the Christian religion against the atheist, Jew, and Socinian, and in the protestant against Rome: as also, by what I have seen in manuscript of Mr. Farrer's, and heard by relation of his travels over the western parts of Christendom; in which, his exquisite carriage, his rare parts and abilities of understanding and languages, his morals more perfect than the best, did tempt the adversaries to tempt him, and mark him for a prize, if they could compass him. And opportunity they had to do this, in a sickness that seized on him at Padua, where mighty care was had by physicians and others to recover his bodily health, with design to infect his soul. But neither did their physic nor poison work any change in his religion, but rather inflamed him with an holy zeal, to revenge their charity, by transplanting their waste and misplaced zeal, (as they were all three admirable in separating from the vile, what was precious in every sect or person under heaven,) to adorn our protestant religion, by a right renouncing the world with all its profits and honours, in a true crucifying the flesh, with all its pleasures, by continued temperance, fasting, and watching unto prayers. In all which exercises, as he far outwent the choicest of their retired men, so did he far undervalue these deeds, rating them much below such prices as they set upon them. Upon this design he helped to put out Lessius, and to stir up us ministers to be painful in that excellent labour of the Lord, catechising, feeding the lambs of Christ : he translated a piece of Lud. Carbo; wherein Carbo confesseth, that the heretics (i. e. protestants) had got much advantage by catechising : but the authority at Cambridge suffered not that Egyptian jewel to be published.
And he that reads Mr. Herbert's poems attendingly, shall find not only the excellencies of scripture divinity, and choice passages of the fathers bound up in metre; but the doctrine of Rome also finely and strongly confuted ; as in the poems, To saints and angels, p. 69. The British church,
102. Church militant, &c. Thus stood they in aspect to Rome and her children on