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prayer for though there be no mention of fasting, yet if we consult the time, we shall find that it was in the seventh month; (2 Chron. v.3) and that the solemnity continued from the eighth to the twenty-third day of that month; (2 Chron. vii. 9, 10) and the tenth day was, by a statute, for ever appointed to be a day, wherein to afflict their souls. (Lev. xxvi. 29) The parts are three; 1. A supposition of judgements, ver. 13: where, by the enumeration of three, any others may synecdochically be understood.

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2. A direction unto duties: wherein are two things to be taken notice of: 1. The quality of the persons who are to perform them; My people called by my name.' 2. A specification of the duties, which are these four, Humiliation, supplication, reconciliation, conversion.'

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3. A gracious promise of mercy, wherein are very remarkable four signal returns of grace in conformity to their duties. 1. They humble themselves under God's holy hand; and he humbleth himself to look down from heaven.' 2. They pray, and God hears their prayer. 3. They seek the favour and the face of God; and God forgives their sin, and is reconciled unto them. 4. They turn from their wicked ways; and God heals those evils which those wicked ways had brought upon the land; no duty undertaken in vain, but a suitable and correspondent mercy promised to encourage them thereunto.

It may here not impertinently be asked, why these three judgements of 'shutting up heaven, sending locusts and pestilence,' are rather mentioned than any other? since doubtless the promise doth extend itself further. I take the reason to be, 1. Because these are irresistible; no counsel, no policy, no strength can prevent them. 2. Because they are inflicted by God alone, no second causes immixed in them: If I shut up heaven, if I command the locusts, if I send pestilence.'

1. If an enemy come,-counsel may hinder, strength may vanquish, treasure may bribe and divert, him. Our own policies and provisions may seem to contribute towards our help. But against an army of locusts,' no policy, wisdom, strength, embassy, can prevail. No power of man can open or shut the clouds; no gates or bars can keep out a famine, or a pestilence from a place.

2. If an enemy come, we are apt to ascribe that to the malice of men; to look outward to second causes, and not inward to our own sins, or upward to the justice of God; though it be certain, that there is no human hostility, without a divine commission. Men are God's rod, and sword, and staff. (Psalm xvii. 13. Isa. x. 5, 6. Ezek. xxi. 3, 5, 11) He, by his secret and holy providence, edgeth the spirits of men against one another; (as he sent an evil spirit between the men of Shechem and Abimelech, Judges ix. 23) and stirreth up adversaries against those that provoke him, as he did against Solomon. (1 Kings xi. 14, 23) And when he pleaseth to return in mercy, "he rebuketh the sword, and breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder." (Psalm xlvi. 9. Isa. liv. 17) These things, I say, are certain. But we are too apt to bite the stone that hurts us, and not mind the hand that threw it: whereas when wrath is from heaven only, we are forced to see God; we have no second causes to ascribe it unto.

So the meaning is, "If I send judgements immediately from myself, such as no human wisdom can prevent, or power remove; if then the people shall bethink themselves, and return, and seek my face, they shall find, that, when wisdom, policy, treasures, walls, armour, munition, are nothing worth,-prayer and repentance shall avail for healing." So here is a double combat between God and man.

1. Man provokes God with sin; and God overcomes sin with judgement.

2. Man wrestleth with prayer and humiliation; and God yieldeth in mercy and compassion.

I begin with the first general, the supposition of judgements, and from thence make two observations.

I. Judgements light not on a people casually, or by chance, but by the over-ruling and disposing power and justice of the command and commission of God. It hath not an earthly original: it grows not out of the dust; (Job v. 6, 7) but it comes from heaven, and is sent from God, to signify something of his mind unto us.

1. Sometimes, indeed, by way of dominion and absolute power, he destroyeth the perfect and the wicked; he laugheth at the trial of the innocent. (Job ix. 22, 23) Sometimes as a preparation unto intended mercy; as men

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plough the ground which they mean to enrich with precious seed, and carve the stone which they mean to put in the top of the building. Joseph's iron chain made way to his golden chain; and David's troubles seasoned him for his crown. As men put forth longest into wind and sun that great timber, which must bear the greatest burden and stress of the building. No such school to learn in, as the school of affliction. But most usually in a way of justice; "Because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee." (Jer. xxx. 15) Thou hast done right; we have done wickedly." (Nehem. ix. 33) "I have not done without cause all that I have done." (Ezek. xiv. 23) Personal chastisements may be for trial and exercise of faith and patience; but general and public judgements are ever in wrath and displeasure.

Such have been the dealings of God in this nation. The cup of affliction hath been given to all orders of men. We have seen princes on scaffolds, and in banishment; parlia ments broken in pieces by their servants; peers and patriots divested of their honours, and secluded from their trust; dishonours poured upon the city, poverty on the country, blood on the land, scorn on ministers, threats on universities, consternation on soldiers; there is not any order or degree of men, which hath not been shaken with these earthquakes. O how deep is our stupidity, if we do not all of us analyze and resolve our sufferings into their proper principles, our sins, and God's displeasure! if we have only howled under them, and see not God's providence in them, ordering the sins of men unto our humiliation! if we know them only naturally by their smart to the flesh, and not spiritually, by their influence on the conscience! if we censure others, and absolve ourselves! if our sufferings harden and enrage us in animosities against men, but do not meeken and melt us under the holy trials of God!

Let us, therefore, labour to find out our sins by our sufferings, the cloud of wrath rising out of the sea of lust. Let us search and try our ways; and, since we are living men, not complain of the punishment of our sins; be not as adamants, rocks, oaks, which blows, waves, winds, break not, move not, bend not:-make use of our sufferings to review our sins, and to know our duty; what we should happily

have done, and did not, in the day of our prosperity, before God laid us aside; what the controversy was, which God had against us in our sufferings; what the duties are, which he requireth of us in our restitution. The prophet's staff did no good to the dead child till he came himself. Judgements do nothing, till God follow them with his graces. Chastisements never mend us till they teach us: "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;" (Psalm xciv. 12)" till we see his name, and hear his voice in them ;" (Micah vi. 9) till we take notice of his justice preparing the whale that hath swallowed us, (Jonah i. 17) bidding Shimei curse, (1 Sam. xvi. 10) giving a charge to the Assyrian; (Isai. x. 6)—this will make us dumb, when we consider that it is God that doth it. (Psalm xxxix. 9)

And now that the cup hath gone round, and God hath, by his righteous providence, prevented our revenge, and done that by the strange vicissitudes of his justice in a wise and holy manner, which if he had left us to do in our own cases, would possibly have been done with folly and fury ;-let us conclude, that the Lord having judged us all himself,' we should make it our work, not so much to look back with revengeful, as to look forward with healing and closing, resolutions. We have been like wanton children which fall out in a family: Now our father hath whipped us round; that should make us return to our fraternal agreements again.

2. The Lord hath variety of judgements, whereby to reduce froward and stubborn sinners; can punish them in the heavens over them, in the earth under them, and in their bowels within them; can beset them upward, downward, outward, inward; and make a net, a chain, and hedge of afflictions to shut them in, and to fence up their way that they cannot pass.' (Job iii. 23, and xix. 8) When he will plead, he will take away all refuge; and make every region, towards which we look, minister despair. They shall look upward, and they shall look unto the earth, and behold trouble, and darkness, and dimness of anguish. (Isa. viii. 21, 22) If they look without, behold a sword; if within, behold famine and pestilence; (Levit. xxvi. 25. Jer. xxi. 4, 6. Ezek. vii. 15) evil, which they shall not be able to escape, or go forth of. (Jer. xi. 11) When men multiply sins,


the Lord usually multiplieth judgements, till he either bend by repentance, or break by destruction. When cleanness of teeth, blasting and mildew, pestilence and sword, the judgements of Sodom and Gomorrah, did not prevail with Israel to return, then he threateneth final wrath; "Therefore Thus will I do unto thee," Amos iv. 6-12. Which Thus, in the prophet Amos, seemeth to me to be the same with 'Lo-Ammi,' in the Prophet Hosea, an utter rejection of them from being the Lord's people. (Hos. i. 9) Four times after one another, doth the Lord threaten to punish his people 'seven times more for their sins,' if they walk contrary unto him. (Levit. xxvi. 18, 21, 24, 28)

Philosophers use to reckon but eight steps to the highest and most intense degree of a quality; but the wrath of God is represented by eight and twenty degrees unto us.

I. The method of God in these various judgements usually is,

1. He begins at the outward man, exercising a people many times with change of rods; which is ever a sign of anger in the father, and of stubbornness in the son.


2. He proceeds to the soul, by smiting that, revealing his wrath, subducting his peace, implanting his terrors, causing guilt and fear to gripe and seize on the conscience, called, Breaking of bones,' (Psalm li. 8) drinking up of spirits,' (Job vi. 4) a wounded spirit.' (Prov. xviii. 14) If the Lord should give a secure sinner, who now haply thinks himself alive and safe, upon the mistaken apprehensions of mercy, a full view of the filthiness, and sense of the heaviness of any one atrocious sin whereof he stands guilty; it would make him a terror to himself, willing to exchange his burden for the weight of a rock or mountain. "O my broken bones!” saith one. (Psalm li. 8) "O my withered heart!" saith another. (Psalm cii. 3, 4) "O the distracting terrors of God!" saith a third. (Psalm lxxxviii. 15) “O the intoxicating arrows of the Almighty!" saith a fourth. (Job vi. 4) Thus the Lord can make a man a Magor Missabib,' a very fury and fiend unto himself, by arming his own conscience against him. And if the sergeant be so formidable, what a fearful thing is it to fall into the hands of the living God! against whose wrath, all the honours of the world, all the wealth and greatness which a thousand kingdoms could heap upon a man,

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