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73

To his Excellency, Thomas Lord Fairfax, etc.

Sir,

Almighty God having made you the instrument of that deliverance and peace which in the county of Essex we do enjoy, next to his own goodness, the remembrance thereof is due unto your name. “Those who honour him he will honour; and those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed,” 1 Sam. ii. 30. Part of these ensuing sermons being preached before your excellency, and now by providence called forth to public view, I am emboldened to dedicate them unto your name, as a small mite of that abundant thankfulness, wherein all peace-loving men of this county stand obliged unto you.

It was the custom of former days, in the provinces of the Roman empire: to erect statues and monuments of grateful remembrance152152    Lubens meritoque. to those presidents and governors who, in the administration of their authority, behaved themselves with wisdom, courage, and fidelity; yea, instruments of great deliverances and blessings, through corrupted nature’s folly, became the Pagans’ deities.

There is scarce a county in this kingdom wherein, and not one from which, your excellency hath not deserved a more lasting monument than ever was erected of Corinthian brass. But if the Lord be pleased that your worth shall dwell only in the praises of his people, it will be your greater glory, that being the place which himself hath chosen to inhabit. Now, for a testification of this is this only intended. Beyond this towards men, God pleading for you, you need nothing but our silence; the issue of the last engagements, whereunto you were called and enforced, answering, yea, outgoing, your former undertakings, giving ample testimony of the continuance of God’s presence with you in your army, having stopped the mouths of many gainsayers, and called to the residue in the language of the dumb-speaking Egyptian hieroglyphic, Ὦ γινόμενοι καὶ ἀπογινόμενοι, Θεὸς μισεῖ ἀναι.δειαν,153153    Plut. de Iside et Osir. — “Men of all sorts know that God hateth impudence.”

It was said of the Romans, in the raising of their empire, that they were “sæpe prælio victi, bello nunquam.” So naked hath the bow of God been made for your assistance, that you have failed neither in battle nor war.

Truly, had not our eyes beheld the rise and fall of this latter storm, we could not have been persuaded that the former achievements of the army under your conduct could have been paralleled. But He who always enabled them to outdo not only others but themselves, hath in this carried them out to outdo whatever before himself had done by them, that they might show more kindness and faithfulness in the latter end than in the beginning. The weary ox treadeth hard; — dying bites are often desperate; — half-ruined Carthage did more perplex Rome than when it was entire; — hydra’s heads in the fable were increased by their loss, and every new stroke begat a new opposition. Such seemed the late tumultuating of the exasperated party in this nation.

74In the many undertakings of the enemy, — all which themselves thought secure, and others esteemed probable, — if they had prevailed in any one, too many reasons present themselves to persuade they would have done so in all. But to none of those worthies which went out under your command to several places in the kingdom, can you say, with Augustus to Varus, upon the slaughter of his legions by Arminius in Germany, “Quintile Vare, redde legiones,” God having carried them all on with success and victory.

One especially, in his northern expedition, I cannot pass over with silence, who although he will not, dare not, say of his undertakings, as Cæsar of his Asian war, “Veni, vidi, vici,” knowing who works all his works for him; nor shall we say of the enemy’s multitude, what Captain Gam did of the French, being sent to spy out their numbers before the battle of Agincourt, that there were of them enough to kill, and enough to take, and enough to run away; yet of him and them both he and we may freely say, “It is nothing with the Lord to help, either with many, or with them that have no power.”

The war being divided, and it being impossible your excellency should be in every place of danger, according to your desire, the Lord was pleased to call you out personally unto two of the most hazardous, dangerous, and difficult undertakings;154154    Kent, Essex. where, besides the travel, labour, watching, heat and cold, by day and night, whereunto you were exposed, even the life of the meanest soldier in your army was not in more imminent danger than oftentimes was your own. And indeed, during your abode at the leaguer amongst us, in this only were our thoughts burdened with you, — that self-preservation was of no more weight in your counsels and undertakings. And I beseech you pardon my boldness, in laying before you this expostulation of many thousands (if we may say to him who hath saved a kingdom what was sometime said unto a king), “Know you not that you are worth ten thousands of us? why should you quench such a light in Israel?”

Sir, I account it among those blessings of Providence wherewith the days of my pilgrimage have been seasoned, that I had the happiness for a short season to attend your excellency, in the service of my master, Jesus Christ; as also, that I have this opportunity, in the name of many, to cast in my χαῖρε into the kingdom’s congratulations of your late successes. What thoughts concerning your person my breast is possessed withal, as in their storehouse they yield me delightful refreshment, so they shall not be drawn out, to the disturbance of your self-denial. The goings forth of my heart, in reference to your excellency, shall be chiefly to the Most High, that, being more than conqueror in your spiritual and temporal warfare, you may be long continued for a blessing to this nation, and all the people of God.

Sir,

Your Excellency’s

Most humble and devoted Servant,

John Owen.

Coggeshall, Essex,
Oct. 5, 1648.


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