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1256. Trouble and Vexation of Spirit not to
be allayed by Wrong Means and Ways. It is said of Cain, that being in trouble of mind and terror of conscience, for his bloody sin of fratricide, he went to allay it by building a city, Gen. iv. And there was no way to drive away Saul's melancholy, but by David's tuning of his harp. Thus it is with most of people, when they are under trouble of mind, or vexation of spirit, they use sinful and wrong means to quiet themselves; they run to merry meetings, to music, to building, to bargaining, to buying and selling ; but they run not to God on the bended knees of their hearts, who is the only speedy help in such a time of need. It cannot be denied but that a merry meeting, music, or the like, may allay the trouble of mind for a while, but it will recoil with more terror than before. A sad remedy, not much unlike to a man in a fever, that lets down cold drink, which cools for the present, but afterwards increaseth the more heat; or like a man rubbing himself with nettles to allay the sting of a bee; or not much unlike to one that hath his house a falling, and takes a firebrand to uphold it, whereby the building is more in danger.
Ede, bibe, lude, post mortem nulla voluptas.
1257. Prosperity will Discover what a Man is.
It is said of Pius Quintus, so called because that when he was a mean man, he was looked on as a good man; but when he came to be a cardinal, he doubted of his salvation; and when a pope, he despaired of it. So hard a thing is it for a good man to use a prosperous estate well. Prosperity is that which will tell you what à man is, it will soon find him out; give him power, and he will soon show what grace is in him ; put him into an office, and he will presently be seen in it. Hence it is observable, that the same word that signifies prosperity, niso, schalvat, in the Hebrew, is rendered by the Arabic, investigatio, and by the Septuagint, Fetaruos, inquisition or examination, to make a strict search, or to examine thoroughly. So that whereas adversity tries but one grace, that is patience, prosperity will try all graces; it will try a man's love, whether he love God or the world ; it will try his zeal, whether at a dead lift he will venture Christ or his estate ; it will try his hope, whether it be on Heaven or earth; it will try his charity, whether it be at home or abroad; it will try the whole man, and suddenly discover to the world what metal he is made of.
Vix Pius intus.
Magistratus indicat virum.. Non facile est æqua commoda
mente pati. Ovid, Art. ii.
1258. God's Ends and Man's Ends, as to the
Persecution of His Church, the Vast
Difference betwixt them. A' PHYSICIAN letteth a man blood by the application of leeches, and they suck much blood from him ; but the physician's ends are one thing, and the leeches' ends are another thing : the leech draweth blood from the man only to satisfy itself; but the physician letteth the man blood to cure his distemper. Such is the difference between God's ends and wicked men's ends in the persecution of His own people; God, by suffering His own church and people to be persecuted, it is for to purge away their evil distempers of sin and security, or whatsoever it is that may offend, that thereby He may make His people better by their afflictions; but wicked and ungodly men, by troubling the church, it is for to destroy them and root them out, that they may be no more a people, to accomplish their own wicked designs, and to satisfy their rage and malice upon them, in their utter ruin and overthrow. 'hese are their ends, but God hath other ends; as Joseph said to his brethren (Gen. xlv.), You did intend me hurt
, but God did intend me good; so it may be said concerning all ungodly wicked men, they do intend evil against the church and people of God, but God intends His people's good; they intend to persecute and destroy, but He intends (maugre all their contrivements whatsoever) to preserve, keep, and continue His church, to the end of the world. Let the church's enemies plough never so deeply, and make furrows on the backs of God's people never so long ; yet God's ends are grace, and mercy, and peace, to do. them good in the latter end.
Jer. Whitaker's Serm. at Westminster, 1647. Sæpe tulit lassis uccus amarus
opem. Ovid, Amor. Magna est veritas et prævalebit.
1259. The Serious Confession of one Sinner
to another, may be the Conversion one of the other.
It is related of St. John the Evangelist, that being upon his return from Patmos to Ephesus, after the death of Domitian, he was set upon by a company of thieves, amongst whom was a young man their captain; to him St. John applied himself, by way of wholesome counsel and advice, which took so good effect, that he became a new man, and was converted, and went thereupon to all his fellow thieves, and besought them in the name of Jesus Christ, that they would not walk any longer in their former wicked ways. He told them withal, that he was troubled in conscience for his former wicked life, and earnestly entreated them, that as they tendered the eternal welfare of their own poor souls, they would now leave off their
old courses, and live more conscionably for the time to come. The counsel was good, and well taken, so that many of those great robbers became great converts. Thus it is that one sinner's confession of his faults to another, may happily prove the conversion one of the other. Hence it is that the meaning of that apostolical precept, Confess your faults one to another, Jam. V. 16, is made out by some interpreters to be, that those that have been partners together in sin, they should go one to another, and seriously confess their sins each to other. He that hath been a drunkard, let him go to his companion and tell. him that he is troubled in mind, because of his former excess; and let the unclean person go to his partner in sin, and tell her, God hath troubled his conscience for his lust, and, it may be, this may awaken her conscience too, so that she may bethink herself of her wicked courses and be converted.
Eusebius in Historia, Lib. iii. cap. 22. Olim meminisse dolebit.
confessis aliquod patét. Ovid.
1260. The not Laying of the Church's Troubles
to Heart reprovable. It is worth the taking notice of, how that when the Holy Ghost doth reckon up the tribes of Israel for their renown, as, Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand, &c., Rev. vii. But if you mark the enu
meration, you shall find one tribe left out, and that is the tribe of Dan. And why is it so? Much ado there is to find out the reason of God's omission of that tribe ; one reason is, and that a true one too, because this tribe made a defection from the true worship of God, and fell to idolatry, Judges xviii. 30. Another reason there is, and that probable enough, because they did not lay to heart the calamities of God's church ; for when the other tribes were jeoparding their lives in the highest places of the field, they remained in ships, let the rest of the tribes shift for themselves, they would not lose their trading so, they would follow their merchandising. And for this it was that God sets a brand of obloquy upon them, in not allowing them so much as a name among their brethren and companions. And thus reprovable, are all they too, that lay nothing of the church's calamities to heart, let religion sink or swim, the Gospel stand or fall, the church of God prosper or prosper not; they are but as so many Gallios, they care for none of all these things; like the tribe of Dan, they remain in their ships, at their trades, at their bargaining, buying and selling; though the church's sorrows come on never so fast
, they look on as altogether unconcerned, not in any way contributing to the support thereof. E terra spectantes naufragium et de mari judicantes dchivos. Erasm. in Adag.
1261. Heaven, the Poor Saint's Comfortable
VALENS the emperor threatened St. Basil, that let him go whither he would, yet he should neither by sea nor land, be safe from his power ; Well, said the good man, be it so: for all the emperor's rage I shall be either in Heaven or under Heaven. And in the like manner there was a cardinal threatened Luther, that there should not be a place left for him in all the empire of Germany, wherein he should be free from danger: 0 (saith Luther smilingly) if earth cannot keep me safe, Heaven shall. Thus it is that many of the dear servants of God, such as perhaps have no place in the world wherein to put their heads, or such as heretofore had better accommodations, but are now glad to live in poor cottages, smoky houses, &c., or such as it may be) are driven to and fro by sea and land, as having no abiding place of rest or safety, where to repose themselves; yet here is their hope, here their comfortable assurance, that maugre the malice of men and devils, they shall be either in Heaven or under Heaven; though they have no abiding
place on earth below, yet they have one prepared for them eternally in the heavens above. Niceph. in Hist. Eccles. Joh. Sleidan in Com. Locum virtus habet inter
astra, Sen. Hercules.
1262. The not Growing in Grace reproved.
Look but upon a company of ants or pismires, how busy they are about a molehill
, how they run to and fro, and weary themselves in their several movings, yet never grow great, but as to the slender proportion of their bodies are still the same. And such are niany Christians in these days, many professors in our times, who go from one ordinance to another, and yet make little progress or increase in religion; such as run from one church to another, from one preacher to another, and it may be from one opinion to another, but never grow up to the true grace, and in the true knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
Chr. Love, Growth in Grace.
1263. Whilst we are here in this World, to
Provide for Heaven hereafter. THERE is mention made of a nation, that use to choose their kings every year, and whilst they are in their annual government, they live in all abundance of state, have all the fullness their hearts can wish; but when the year is once over, all their pomp and glory is over too, and they banished into some obscure remote place for ever : one king hearing this, being called to rule over that nation, made such use of his time, that in the year wherein he reigned as king, he was not lavish in spending his revenues, but heaped up all the treasure he could get together, and sent it before him to that place, whither he should be banished; and so in that year of his
government, made a comfortable provision for all his lifetime afterwards. Thus it is, that God hath given to every one of us a time to live here in this world, and but a little time at the most, it may be not a week, not a day, not an hour; it will be then the greatest part of our wisdom, that whilst we are here in the
way salvation, and suck at the breasts of those ordinances that may feed us to eternal life, and draw at those wells, called in Scripture. the wells of salvation ; now to lay up for the time of our