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ning eximples in this kind, more than once fo feasonably extended to the relief of our distressed brethren, who fled hither for refuge from the rage and cruelty of their perfecutors: I fay, I have often thought, that this very thing, next to the infinite mercy and goodness of almighty God, hath had a very particular influence upon our prefervation and deliverance from those terrible calamities which were juft ready to rufh in upon us. And what caufe have we to thank God, who hath allotted to us this more bleffed and merciful part, to give and not to receive; and to be free from perfecution ourselves, that fo we might be in a capacity to give refuge and relief to them that were perfecuted?

There are but few that have the faith to believe it, but certainly charity to the poor is a great fecurity to us in times of evil. So David affures us, fpeaking of the righteous or charitable man, He shall not (fays he) be a fraid in the evil time, and in the days of dearth he fhall "be fatisfied.

And fo likewife in times of publick diftrefs, when we are befet with cruel and powerful enemies, who, if God were not on our fide, would fwallow us up, the publick charity of a nation hath many times proved its beft fafeguard and fhield: It shall fight for thee (faith the fon of Sirach, fpeaking of the charity of alms) against thine enemy, more than a mighty Shield and ftrong fpear.

And of this, as I faid before, I doubt not but we of this nation, by the great mercy and goodness of God to us, have had happy experience in our late wonderful deliverance under the conduct and valour of one of the beft and braveft of princes; to whom, by too many among us, the moft unworthy and unthankful returns have been made for all the unwearied pains he hath undergone, and for the many defperate hazards to which he hath expofed himself for our fakes, that ever were made to fo great and generous a benefactor : to fo great a benefactor, I fay, not only to thefe nations, but even to all Europe, in afferting and maintaining their liberties against the infolent pride and unjust incroachments of one of the greatest oppreffors the world hath known for many ages. Of whom it may be faid as Job doth of the leviathan, Job xli. 33. Up

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on the earth there is not his like. I am glad I cannot apply what immediately follows, that he is made without fear; but furely the next words are appofite enough,

34. He beholdeth all high things: and is king over all the children of pride. And yet he that is higher than the higheft, even he that fitteth in the heavens, doth laugh at him; for he feeth that his day is coming.

To conclude this particular; if we would have our prayers afcend up to heaven, and find acceptance there, our alms must go along with them. So the angel intimates, when he says to Cornelius, Acts x. 4. Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Thy prayers and thine alms; they muft go together, if we defire that our prayers fhould be effectual. And the Prophet Ifaiah, fpeaking of the faft which God hath chofen, and which is acceptable to him, makes charity and alms a moft effential part of it, If. lviii. 7.9. Is it not (fays he) to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are caft out, to thy house? when thou feeft the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyfelf from thine own flesh? Then shalt thou call, and the Lord Shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he fhall fay, Here I am.

6. and laftly, We fhould profecute our repentance and good refolutions to the actual reformation and amendment of our lives; for in this repentance doth mainly confift. This is the proper fruit and effect of all our humiliation and good refolutions, to forsake our fins, and to become better for the future; more pious and devout towards God, more fober and chafte with regard to ourselves, more juft and charitable, more humble and meek, towards all men in a word, more innocent, more useful, and more holy in all manner of converfation.

And, without this, all our fasting and humiliation, our moft earnest prayers and fupplications, will fignify nothing. All our forrow and tears will be but as water fpilt upon the ground, and will not turn to any account, either to fave our own fouls, or to preserve this untoward generation, this crooked and perverse nation, from ruin and destruction. So God tells Solomon, that this is the only way to appeafe and reconcile him to a finful people, 2 Chron. vii. 14. If my people which are called

by

by my name, fhall humble themselves and pray, and Seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their fin, and will heal their land.

And if this were the happy effect of our prayers and humiliation this day, to turn us from our wicked ways, God would then turn away his anger from us; and, as he promised to the Jews by the Prophet Zachary, he would turn these our monthly fafts into joy, and gladness, and chearful feafts, Zech. viii. 19.; as he hath in a great meafure already done, Blessed be his great and glorious

name.

But if we will not hearken and obey, can we expect, that God fhould deliver us from the hands of our enemies, that we may fin against him without fear all the days of our lives? To what purpofe fhould the providence of God take fo much care to preferve our religion to us, when we make no better ufe of it for the direction and government of our lives? when it ferves most of us only to talk of it? and too many amongst us to talk against it, to deride it, and defpitefully to ufe it? If this be the truth of our cafe, what can we say, why the kingdom of God should not be taken from us, and given to a nation that will bring forth the fruits of it? what can we fay, why our candlestick fhould not be removed, and the light of the glorious gofpel of Chrift, which we have fo long enjoyed, and fo long rebelled against, should not be utterly extinguished amongst us?

And if I cannot prevail with you to come to these good refolutions, and to make them good; if you will not be perfuaded to practife, yet be pleased to attend to what we fay. Hear our words at least, if you will not do them. This the people of the Jews would do when they were at the worst. So God tells the Prophet concerning them, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. They come unto thee as the people cometh; and they fit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them.

I had much rather at any time have occafion to praise than to reprove, efpecially in this great affembly and yet it is not to be diffembled, that the beha viour of too many in this place is frequently fo careless and irreverent, as is very mifbecoming thofe who are

in

in the more peculiar prefence of the great and glorious majefty of heaven and earth, and profefs at that very time to worship him.

I am fure we have a better pattern perpetually before us, of a decent and unaffected devotion, of a moft ferious and steady attention, without wandering, without diverfion, and without drowsiness: fuch an example as I cannot but hope will in a short time gain upon us all, and by a more gentle and filent reproof win us to the i

mitation of it.

And if we could but be prevailed upon to demean ourselves with that reverence, and to hear with that attention, which becomes the worship and the word of God, it might then be hoped, that we would confider what is faid; and confideration would probably work conviction, and conviction bring us to a better mind, and to a firm purpose of doing what we are inwardly convinced it is both our duty and our interest to do.

Let us then go away from this folemnity, with a refolution to do every one what we ought, truly and earneftly to repent us of our fins paft, and to lead a new life for the future; to fear at great and terrible God, in whose presence we have humbled ourselves this day; and to turn to him that hath fmitten us, left we provoke him to punish us yet feven times more, and after that feven times more for our fins, and for our impenitency in them, till at last he make our plagues wonderful.

To conclude: Let us every one, with that true penitent in Job, take words to ourselves, and fay, Surely it is meet to be faid unto God, I have born chaftifement, I will not offend any more: that which I fee not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. Oh! that there were fuch a heart in us, that it might be well with us, and with our children for ever.

Which God of his infinite goodness grant, for his mercies fake in Jefus Chrift. To whom, with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghoft, be all honour and glory, both now and ever. Amen.

SERMON

370

SERMON

XL.

That God is the only happiness of man.

Preached before the Queen, at Whitehall, March 20. 1691.

PSA L. lxxiii. 25.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon. earth that I defire befides thee.

TH

HE defign of this pfalm is, to vindicate the goodnefs and juftice of the divine providence, notwithstanding the profperous ftate of the wicked, and the afflicted condition of good men many times in this world. And, in the first place, the Pfalmift, whoever he was, whether David or Afaph, lays down this for a most certain truth, That God is good to good men: 1. Of a truth God is good to Ifrael, to such as are of a clean heart.

And yet for all this he tells us, that at fome times he was under no small temptation to question the truth of this principle, when he beheld the promifcuous difpenfation of things here below, that the wicked are often profperous, and good men expofed to great calamities in this life; as if God either neglected human affairs, or had a greater kindness for the workers of iniquity, than for pious and good men: y 2. 3. As for me, my foot had well-nigh flipped: for I was envious at the foolish, when I faw the profperity of the wicked.

This, he fays, was a very great ftumbling-block to good men, and tempted them to doubt of the providence of God: Therefore his people return hither; and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they fay, Doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Moft High, y 10. 11. This fentence is fomewhat obfcurely rendered in our tranflation, so as to make the fenfe of it difficult; which is plainly this: Therefore his people return hither; that is, therefore good men come to

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