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I must profess that my hopes of the saving of many that are dear to me, by the furtherance of this providence, is matter of so much thankfulness to me, that were I sure to suffer with them I would yet give thanks.
6. It is matter of thanksgiving to me that God hath so far owned an unanimous, painful, faithful ministry, (for all their many sad infirmities,) as first to break the profane opposers of them, and then to scatter the adversaries on the other side. Ever since I heard it so familiar among them to call Christ's faithful servants by so many reproachful names, as priests, (in scorn,) presbyters, drivines, jack presbyters, black-coats, pulpiteers, &c., and their friends priest-ridden ; to suffer quakers openly in the streets to revile them as deceivers, dogs, wolves, hirelings, false prophets, liars, and all the names that hell could teach them, I waited in fear for the judgments of the Lord; which he hath executed in our sight, and caused us to know, that his delays are no desertions of his servants, nor justification of our revilers. And let it stand as a warning to you that have seen it, and you that have executed the punishments of God upon the reproachers, that you take heed of falling into the same crime, and dashing on the rock on which they have been broken; but let all England hear and fear, and do no more so malignantly or presumptuously.
And O that the unworthy ministers of Christ may remember that we are not vindicated and delivered to contend, or to imitate our afflicters, in seeking greatness to ourselves, nor to live in idleness, and neglect the souls committed to our care.
7. It is very great cause of thankfulness in my eyes, that firom first to last God hath been so tender of the honour of his unanimous sober people, and his cause, of the innocency and consciences of his servants; as to execute his afflictions mostly by the hands of erring men; and to keep the rest by imprisonments, seclusions, and other means, so far from all appearance of consent or irregularities : and that at last he hath put an opportunity into their hands to declare to the world their innocency in things with which they were reproached; and that while profane opposers of religion did boast and vapour, and swear and curse, and drink healths for His Majesty's restitution, it is those whom they reproached that have silently and effectually accomplished it, and that with speed, as soon as they had power.
8. It is some matter of thankfulness to me, that whereas, to
our perpetual shame we could not in so many years compose the disagreements in church affairs among us, we are not alto. gether without hope that agreement may be now more effectually procured ; not only because those carnal advantages that hindered it with some are taken from them, and suffering will dispose some more to peace;' but because we are persuaded the disposition, and we are sure the interest, of His Majesty standeth for our reconciliation and unity. And verily we are the most inexcusable people, in the world, if our own long and sad experience do not resolve us to do the utmost in that work ourselves, which, if we are not horridly proud and wilful, is easy to accomplish.
9. And it is matter of thanksgiving that God hath been all along so wonderfully seen in the work; which makes us hope that the issue will yet be for our good. The first sparks that set fire on the last foundation are yet much unknown, but were so little as makes it the more strange. The wonderful whirlwind that suddenly finished the subversion was marvellous, though sad, because of the wickedness of men. The introducing of the remnant of the members; the stop that was given them, when they had voted in a committee a liberty in religion, that excepted not popery ; the casting them out by those that set them up; the discoveries of the fallaciousness of some of their chiefs, who were then tempted into a compliance with the army, and were fabricating a new form of a Commonwealth; the breaking of them and of the army, in part by the returning members; the unexpected stop that was given first to their proceedings by His Excellency in the North; the expeditiousness, the constancy, the unanimity and strange successfulness of that attempt, that an army who thought themselves only fit to be the nation's security for liberty and religion, and were thought necessary to be entailed upon us to that end ; that were so heightened in their own and other men's esteem, by their
many and wonderful successes, should in a moment (we scarce know how) fly all into pieces as a grenado that is fired; that Ireland at the same time should be so strangely and easily reduced, and that by sober, faithful hands, and by so few, and with such speed; that this famous city should be so unanimously excited to concur so eminently, and contribute very much to the success; that His Excellency should conquer without any blows; and that all be despatched that since is done with no considerable resistance; all this, and much more, do make us wonder at the hand of God. And seldom is there so wonderful an appearance of the Lord, but it holds forth matter that is amiable as well as admirable to his church.
Lastly. That all this is done with little or no effusion at all of blood, when so much blood was shed in the foregoing changes, advanceth the wonder to a greater height: and I hope His Majesty and the two Houses of Parliament will take notice how God hath gone before them in a tender and unbloody change, and will not hearken to them that protest against revenge, while they would use it under the name of justice. When the wheel of Providence turneth so fast, if all that have the advantage of executing their wills under the name of justice should take their advantage, you know what names and sufferings multitudes of the most useful members in such nations, in the several vicissitudes, must incur to the detriment of the commonwealth and gover
III. You see what cause we have of thankfulness; but I must tell you that these, as all inferior mercies, are imperfect things, and being but means to greater matters, the heavenly interest first treated on, they are no further significant or valuable than they have some tendency to their end: and I must further tell you, that it is much committed into the hands of man, under God, whether such beginnings shall have a happy or unhappy end. If Christ become to many a stumbling-stone, and be set for the fall of many in Israel, (Luke ii. 34,) and if the gospel itself
prove the savour of death to some, no wonder if it be yet possible and too easy for a sinful land to turn these forementioned mercies and successes into most heavy judgments, and to rob themselves of all the honour and the benefit. And therefore, above all, for the Lord's sake, and for a poor, tired, yet hoping nation's sake, and for the sake of the cause of Christ through the world, I beseech you all, from the ghe to the lowest, that you will be awakened to an holy vigilancy, and look about you in your several places, lest the enemy of Christ and you should play his aftergame more successfully than now you can foresee: and lest the return of a sinful nation to their vomit should make the end yet worse than the beginning. It is not enough to have begun; the fruit of all is yet behind. I must here deal plainly with you, however it be taken, lest I be charged with unfaithfulness at the dreadful tribunal, to which both you and I are hastening. If these beginnings, through your neglects, or any others that have been the instruments, should now be turned to the reviving and strengthening of profaneness, and malignity against the holy ways of God; to the introduction of mere formality in religion; to the casting out, or weakening the hands of the faithful ministers in the land ; to the destruction of order and discipline in the churches; to the suppression of orderly and edifying meetings for mutual assistance in the matters of salvation; or to the cherishing of ignorance or popery in the people, it will blast the glory of all that you have done, and turn the mercy into gall. Believe it, the interest of Christ and holiness will be found at last the surest ground for any prince to build his interest upon; and the owning of corrupt and contrary interests that engage nien in quarrels with the interest of Christ, is it that hath undone so many princes and states already, that it should make the greatest learn at last, to account it their highest honour to be the servants of the King of Saints, and to devote their power to the accomplishment of his will. I need not tell you that it is the sober, godly, conscionable sort of men that know what they do, and why, that will be the honour of their governors, and the most useful of their subjects, and not the barbarous, malignant rabble, that understand not what belongs to the pleasing of God, the happiness of themselves, the good of the Commonwealth, or the honour of their king. And do you not think that remissness, to say no worse, of magistrates, who should restrain the insolencies of such, is not a great dishonour to our nation, and a great temptation to many in the country, that stand at a distance from the fountain of affairs, to continue their fears lest we have changed for the worst? Put yourselves in their cases, and tell me whether you could, with equal cheerfulness, keep this day, if you were used, as many able, faithful ministers and people are in the cities and countries of the land, who have their persons assaulted, their windows battered, their ministrations openly reviled, and that go in danger of their lives from the brutish rabble that were formerly exasperated by the magistrates punishing them, or the minister's reproof, or crossing them in their sins. As physicians are judged of, not so much by the excellency of their remedies, as by their success, and the people think of them as they see the patients live or die, so will they do by your great performances which you mention before the Lord this day. Should they prove to the suppression of serious godliness, and the setting up of the wicked of the land, I need not tell you what a name it will leave unto the actors to all generations. But if you vigilantly improve them, as you have given us abundant reason to expect, then the issue shall be the healing concord of the churches, the curbing of profaneness, the promoting of a plain and serious ministry, and of the diligent service of the Lord. This is it that will make your names immortal, that have been the happy instruments of so blessed a work. How joyfully, then, will the subjects commemorate the happy introduction of their sovereign! With what love and honour will they hear his name! How readily will they obey him! How heartily will they pray for him! How precious will your memory be! And this will be numbered among the wonderful deliverances of England. If godliness be persecuted, or made a common scorn in the land, the Holy God will vindicate his honour, and make their names a scorn and curse that shall procure it; but if you exalt him, he will exalt you. Protect his lambs, and he will be your Protector. He is with you while you are with him. (2 Chron. xv. 2.) “Those that honour him, he will honour; and those that despise him shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Sam. ii. 30.)