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CHAP. XXXIV. The Parson’s Dexterity in applying of Remedies.
THe Countrey Parson knows, that there is a double state of a Christian even in this Life, the one military, the other peaceable. The military is, when we are assaulted with temptations either from within or from without, The Peaceable is, when the Divell for a time leaves us, as he did our Saviour, and the Angels minister to us their owne food, even joy, and peace; and comfort in the holy Ghost. These two states were in our Saviour, not only in the beginning of his preaching, but afterwards also, as Mat. 22. 35. He was tempted: And Luke IO. 2I. He rejoyced in Spirit: And they must be likewise in all that are his. Now the Parson having a Spirituall Judgement, according as he discovers any of his Flock to be in one or the other state, so he applies himselfe to them. Those that he findes in the peaceable state, he adviseth to be very vigilant, and not to let go the raines as soon as the horse goes easie. Particularly, he counselleth them to two things: First, to take heed, lest their quiet betray them (as it is apt to do) to a coldnesse, and carelesnesse in their devotions, but to labour still to be as fervent in Christian Duties, as they remember themselves were, when affliction did blow the Coals. Secondly, not to take the full compasse, and liberty of their Peace: not to eate of all those dishes at table, which even their present health otherwise admits; nor to store their house with all those furnitures which even their present plenty of wealth otherwise admits; nor when they are among them that are merry, to extend themselves to all that mirth, which the present occasion of wit and company otherwise admits; but to put bounds, and hoopes to their joyes: so will they last the longer, and when they depart, returne the sooner. If we would judg ourselves, we should not be judged; and if we would bound our selves, we should not be bounded. But if they shall fear, that at such, or such a time their peace and mirth have carryed them further then this moderation, then to take Jobs admirable Course, who sacrificed lest his Children should have transgressed in their mirth. So let them go, and find some poore afflicted soul, and there be bountifull, and liberall; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Those that the Parson findes in the military state, he fortifyes, and strengthens; with his utmost skill. Now in those that are tempted, whatsoever is unruly, falls upon two heads; either they think, that there is none that can or will look after things, but all goes by chance, or wit: Or else, though there be a great Governour of all things, yet to them he is lost, as if they said, God doth forsake and persecute them, and there is none to deliver them. If the Parson suspect the first, and find sparkes of such thoughts now and then to break forth, then without opposing directly (for disputation is no Cure for Atheisme) he scatters in his discourse three sorts of arguments; the first taken from Nature, the second from the Law, the third from Grace. For Nature, he sees not how a house could be either built without a builder, or kept in repaire without a house-keeper. He conceives not possibly, how the windes should blow so much as they can, and the sea rage so much as it can, and all things do what they can, and all, not only without dissolution of the whole, but also of any part, by taking away so much as the usuall seasons of summer and winter, earing and harvest. Let the weather be what it will, still we have bread, though sometimes more, somtimes lesse; wherewith also a carefull Joseph might meet. He conceives not possibly, how he that would beleeve a Divinity, if he had been at the Creation of all things, should lesse beleeve it, seeing the Preservation of all things; For Preservation is a Creation; and more, it is a continued Creation, and a creation every moment. Secondly, for the Law, there may be so evident, though unused a proof of Divinity taken from thence, that the Atheist, or Epicurian can have nothing to contradict. The Jewes yet live, and are known: they have their Law and Language bearing witnesse to them, and they to it: they are Circumcised to this day, and expect the promises of the Scripture; their Countrey also is known, the places, and rivers travelled unto, and frequented by others, but to them an unpenetrable rock, an unaccessible desert. Wherefore if the Jewes live, all the great wonders of old live in them, and then who can deny the stretched out arme of a mighty God? especially since it may be a just doubt, whether, considering the stubbornnesse of the Nation, their living then in their Countrey under so many miracles were a stranger thing, then their present exile, and disability to live in their Countrey. And it is observable, that this very thing was intended by God, that the Jewes should be his proof, and witnesses, as he calls them, Isaiah 43. 12. And their very dispersion in all Lands, was intended not only for a punishment to them; but for an exciting of others by their sight, to the acknowledging of God and his power Psalm 59. 11. And therefore this kind of Punishment was chosen rather then any other. Thirdly, for Grace. Besides the continuall succession (since the Gospell) of holy men, who have born witness to the truth, (there being no reason, why any should distrust Saint Luke, or Tertullian, or Chrysostome, more then Tully, Virgill, or Livy;) There are two Prophesies in the Gospel, which evidently argue Christs Divinity by their success: the one concerning the woman that spent the oyntment on our Saviour, for which he told, that it should never be forgotten, but with the Gospel it selfe be preached to all ages, Matth. 26. 13. The other concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; of which our Saviour said, that that generation should not passe, till all were fulfilled, Luke 21.32. Which Josephus’s History confirmeth, and the continuance of which verdict is yet evident. To these might be added the Preaching of the Gospel in all Nations, Matthew 24. 14. which we see even miraculously effected in these new discoveryes, God turning mens Covetousnesse, and Ambitions to the effecting of his word. Now a prophesie is a wonder sent to Posterity, least they complaine of want of wonders. It is a letter sealed, and sent, which to the bearer is but paper, but to the receiver, and opener, is full of power. Hee that saw Christ open a blind mans eyes, saw not more Divinity, then he that reads the womans oyntment in the Gospell, or sees Jerusalem destroyed. With some of these heads enlarged, and woven into his discourse, at severall times and occasions, the Parson setleth wavering minds. But if he sees them neerer desperation, then Atheisme; not so much doubting a God, as that he is theirs; then he dives unto the boundlesse Ocean of Gods Love, and the unspeakeable riches of his loving kindnesse. He hath one argument unanswerable. If God hate them, either he doth it as they are Creatures, dust and ashes; or as they are sinfull. As Creatures, he must needs love them; for no perfect Artist ever yet hated his owne worke. As sinfull, he must much more love them; because notwithstanding his infinite hate of sinne, his Love overcame that hate; and with an exceeding great victory, which in the Creation needed not, gave them love for love, even the son of his love out of his bosome of love. So that man, which way soever he turnes, hath two pledges of Gods Love, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established; the one in his being, the other in his sinfull being: and this as the more faulty in him, so the more glorious in God. And all may certainly conclude, that God loves them, till either they despise that Love, or despaire of his Mercy: not any sin else, but is within his Love; but the despising of Love must needs be without it. The thrusting away of his arme makes us onely not embraced.
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