He Quickeneth

Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
~ Isaiah 30:26, Isaiah 54:7-10

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
~ Jeremiah 23:5-8, Amos 9:15, Haggai 2:9

So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion. ~ Zechariah 8:15, Joel 3:20-21

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: ~ John 17:23, Hebrews 11:40, Ephesians 1:11

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. ~ John 5:21

The Progress of Divine Providence, Set Out in a Sermon Preached in the Abbey Church of Westminster Before the House of Peers, on the 24th of September, 1645, Being the Day of Their Monthly Fast, By William Gouge, One of the Members of the Assembly.

Ecclesiastes 7:8. Inest omni utenti ratione naturaliter appetere potiora. Bem. de diligendo Deo.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

To the Right Honourable House of Peers Assembled in Parliament. Right Honourable —

As in sundry other ages and places, so in this age and place wherein we now live, hath my text been verified: and that within the compass of these last five years; in every of which God hath done better unto us than at our beginnings: and we have great and just cause to hope that he will yet continue to do better and better.

It was an especial evidence of God’s good providence, that the great Counsel of England was called at that time, that it was called.

The state of Church and Commonwealth was so far out of order, and the disorder in both so backed, as, without a Parliament, it would not, it could not (in man’s apprehensions) have been redressed.

The reformation that was then intended by that Parliament, being by some envious eyes espied, a dissolution thereof was procured.

But that, and other former dissolutions of Parliament’s (necessity forcing another Parliament soon after to be called) occasioned an Act to prevent inconveniencies, which may happen by the untimely adjourning, proroguing, or dissolving of this present Parliament.

What better thing (rebus sic stantibus ut tunc & nunc) could have happened to this state? The good consequences, that have happened thereupon, are evident demonstrations of God’s mind, still to do better and better for us.

It would exceed the proportion of a dedicatory epistle, to reckon up the particular instances of the divine providence, increasing time after time for the better unto us, and that by virtue of this present Parliament: they are so clear and evident, as none, but such as take notice of nothing, can be ignorant of them: and none, but envious and malignant spirits, can conceal or pervert them.

When might the good providence of God have been better discerned, in protecting the persons, upholding the spirits, directing the counsels, and prospering the endeavours of such as were assembled in a Parliament, than in this? When might the like providence of God have been better discerned in stirring up men’s minds, encouraging their spirits, enabling their bodies, and preserving their persons for maintaining a cause, than in this cause that is now maintained by the Parliament? Of them who with a single eye behold the footsteps of the Lord in the counsels of our Parliament, it may justly be said, “They have seen thy goings, O God, the goings of my God, my king” (Psalm 68:24).

Have not our armies had success beyond expectation, even to admiration?

What a stop hath been set to superstition? How good a progress hath been made in reformation? And may we not yet hope that God will do better unto us than at our beginnings? God’s promise is the ground of hope: and my text sheweth that God hath promised as much.

Go on, Right honourable, and put forth your utmost endeavours, for bringing on those better things that yet remain. Where there is hope, there endeavours use to be most earnest: for hope stirreth up men’s spirits to set upon great things.1

Though the full accomplishment of the remaining better things should be reserved to a future age, yet it becomes us, to be as earnest in prosecuting them, according to the ability and opportunity that God doth give us, as if we ourselves were sure, while we live, to have the fruition of them. Experience sheweth that to be true, which of old was said of the provident husbandman, that he planteth trees which may be useful in another age. But I hope that God will let you see and enjoy the fruit of your counsels, and of our desires. This shall be the continual prayer of

Your honour’s humble servant and orator,

William Gouge.

* * *

1 Cum aliqua spes subest, vehementiores vires apparere assolent. Aug. de quant. animae. c. 22. Spes ad majora audenda sese erigit. Greg. M in Iob 4 l. 5 c. 29.

The Progress of Divine Providence

And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
~ Ezekiel 36:11

Among other evidences of God’s special providence, and care over his Church, this is an especial one, that he ever afforded unto it sufficient means to instruct it in his will, and to direct it in the way to happiness.

When, at the beginning he made man, he did not only write his law in his heart, but also revealed means of standing in his happy estate, or falling from the same. Instance the two sacraments in Paradise, the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).

When men increased into a family, God ordained the first-born, both to be a governor, and also an instructor of the family (Genesis 4:7).

When the Church multiplied into a nation, God set apart the twelfth part thereof, namely one tribe of twelve, to be ordinary ministers therein. These he distinguished into priests and Levites (Numbers 3:12).

When that polity ended, he ordained pastors and teachers to be ordinary ministers in his Church, to the end of the world (Ephesians 4:11).

Of old in extraordinary times, and upon extraordinary occasions, God endued men with an extraordinary spirit, who were styled prophets; such an one was Ezekiel, to whom, I suppose, more extraordinary visions and revelations were made known, than to any other.

He was raised up in most corrupt and sad times, even when God was forced to do his work, his strange work, and to bring to pass his act, his strange act (Isaiah 28:23).

He prophesied in Babylon, whither he was carried captive, when the Babylonians first entered into Jerusalem, and took away many of the sacred and precious vessels of the temple; together with a great part of the treasures of that house, and of the king and princes, and carried them, together with Jehoiakim the king, and many of the princes, priests and people into Babylon. There he also continued after that the said Babylonians had again entered into the said city, broke down the walls thereof, burned the house of God, and all the houses in the city, and carried away the remainder of the vessels of the said temple, and of the treasures therein, together with Zedekiah another king, and the remainder of princes, priests and people.

About the same time Jeremiah was raised up to be a prophet among that remnant of Judah, which was left in Judea. They both prophesied the same things for substance, though they were far distant in place, and so ratified each other’s prophecies.

As other prophets, so this our prophet had to do with two sorts of people, impious and pious. The impious were openly profane, and impenitently obstinate, or covertly hypocritical and deceitful. The pious were righteous, upright and humble. In which respect his prophecies were of a mixed kind. In regard of the former sort, he had such a spirit as was given to Boanerges, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17), to denounce God’s terrible judgments against them; in regard of the latter, he had such a spirit as was given to Barnabas, a son of consolation (Acts 4:36), to pronounce sweet promises. Hereby the obstinate were the more terrified and kept down; the humble and penitent were supported.

The spirit of consolation did sweetly breathe forth in this chapter, out of which I have taken my text. It is full of very comfortable promises.

In the beginning of it, he pointeth at the insultations of enemies against the Church of God in their troubles: with which weak spirits use much to be perplexed. The Lord therefore to keep their spirits from fainting, by this his prophet maketh known beforehand the good which he intended unto them. Many particular promises are set down, both before and after my text; but the sum of them all is couched in these words, “I will do better unto you than at your beginnings.”

The Hebrew is so excellent in compounding words, as it compriseth the ten words of my text in two, which are these וְהֵטִֽבֹתִי֙ מֵרִאשֹׁ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם word for word, “I will do good above your beginnings.”

The first word compriseth under it all the blessings which God intended for his Church, not of Jews only, but of Gentiles also, and that from time to time; even from their return out of captivity, until the coming of Christ; not in the flesh only, but in glory also. The latter word noting out a comparison between times and times, hath relation to all the former ages of the Church, even unto those very times of their great troubles.

The main scope of all is, to set out

The Progress of Divine Providence.

This is done by five particulars:

1. The Author or fountain. He is not expressed in the text, but clearly intimated: for the verb is of the first person: besides the copulative particle [and] doth intend the same person that is mentioned before, thus, “I will multiply, I will settle, and will do”; that is, “and I will do.” In the seventh verse the person intended is plainly expressed to be the Lord God. And in the next clause after my text, the Lord Jehovah is expressed. For where this word LORD is set down in four capital letters, it sets out Jehovah.

2. The act whereby the foresaid providence is exercised, “do good.” The word is in the third active conjugation of the Hebrew tongue, called hiphil, which signifieth an efficiency.

3. The increase of that providence, in this note of comparison טִֽ “above,” or “more than.” Our English compriseth the act, and the increase thereof under this word better: for better sets out more good, or greater good.

4. The parties to whom that good is intended, “unto you.” I must confess that the parties are not expressed in the original, but yet implied under this copulative particle [and:] which sheweth that this promise is made to the same parties to whom the former were made; and they are thus expressed, “I will multiply upon you, and I will settle you,” so here, “I will do better unto you.” Besides, the affix after the latter word כֶ֗ם “your,” sheweth what parties are here intended. They are in one word styled Israel, under which is comprised the Church of God.

5. The times, which are the latter times; for this promise is made in opposition to former times, expressed under this word “beginnings.”

These five points afford five useful instructions:

1. The Lord is the fountain of all good. I may well say all, for the indefinite particle good, intendeth as much. Besides all the particular good things promised, before and after my text, are applied to this Author the Lord. So other good things also in other places. Pertinently to this purpose saith an apostle, “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

2. God causeth his goodness to flow forth. He is, not only a full fountain, but an open and over-flowing fountain (Zechariah 13:1). David speaking to the Lord of his goodness, thus saith, “Thou art good, and doest good” (Psalm 119:68).

3. God’s goodness ever increaseth. It’s like the waters that came down from the Lord’s sanctuary, and increased from ankle-deep, to knee-deep; from knee-deep, to middle-deep; from middle-deep, to an impassible river (Ezekiel 47). In this respect, this word of comparison, better, useth to be added to the good things which God provideth in latter ages. I intend to exemplify this in sundry particulars hereafter.

4. The Church is the proper object of God’s goodness. Israel, to whom this promise was made, is put for the Church of God. This is further evidenced by that great difference which is made between Jacob and Esau, thus expressed, “I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau” (Malachi 1:2–3; Romans 9:13). This the apostle applieth to God’s chosen children on the one side, and all the other, on the other side. Thus there is an especially put upon God’s mercy in relation to the members of the Church; for he is said to be the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe (1 Timothy 4:10).

5. The best things are reserved for the last times. The beginnings here mentioned, comprising all former ages and times, the great increase of goodness here intended, must needs be referred to the latter times. This, a prophet thus expresseth, “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills,” and so forth (Isaiah 2:2).

Time will not suffer me distinctly and fully to handle all these points; neither indeed is it needful; for the last compriseth all the other under it: which will the better appear, if we do somewhat more largely express it, thus: The Lord hath provided his better things for the latter times of his Church. Here have we:

The person that is the fountain of goodness expressed, the Lord.

The act of goodness flowing from him, in this word, provided.

This comparison, better things, declareth the increase of his goodness.

The mention of his Church sheweth the proper object, or parties to whom his goodness is extended.

The times are here expressly set down, in these words, latter times.

Thus, in handling this doctrine, God hath provided his better things for the latter times of his Church, all the former will be handled; and the proofs alleged for this, will prove all the rest. My purpose therefore is to insist upon the last doctrine. You heard it before, hear it again: God hath provided his better things for the latter times of his Church.

Well observe the particular good things, which God hath provided for the Christian Church, which is the Church of the latter times, and you shall find them styled, better.

1. The testament given to the Christian church is a better testament (Hebrews 7:22). It is made by the Son of God, Immanuel, God with us, and ratified by his death, wherein an eternal inheritance is bequeathed unto us (Hebrews 9:15). Was there ever such a testament before?

2. The covenant made between God and his Church in these latter times, is a better covenant. Give me here leave, because mention is made both of a testament and a covenant, to show you the difference between them:

a.) A covenant is an agreement between two; a testament is the declaration of the will of one.

b.) The two between whom a covenant passeth must be both living; a testament receiveth force by the death of him that made it.

c.) A covenant is ratified by the mutual consent of both parties; a testament, by the will only of him that made it.

d.) A covenant useth to be made upon conditions on both parts; a testament is made upon the mere favour and grace of the testator.

Now the covenant made with Christians is better than the two former covenants: both called old, because they are both in such respects nulled—

a.) The first was a covenant of works made with man in his entire estate: which by his fall he made impossible for man to keep (Romans 8:3). But this covenant giveth ability to keep it with much alacrity.

b.) There was indeed a covenant of grace made with the Church before Christ exhibited; but set out in such obscure promises and prophecies, and dark types and shadows, as it was needful in time to be abolished: but the New Covenant made with the Christian Church, is so clearly and plainly revealed, as it may well in that respect also be called better.

3. The promises now made, are better promises (Hebrews 8:6); most of the promises before Christ exhibited were of temporal good things: I will not deny, but that spiritual and celestial good things were prefigured under them; but now spiritual and heavenly good things, are more expressly, perspicuously and plentifully promised to the Church.

4. The hope that now we have, is a better hope (Hebrews 7:19), promises are the ground of hope. The better the promises, the better must hope needs be: and that in those respects wherein the promises are better. Christians may more immediately, directly and steadily, hope for all spiritual and heavenly blessings, then they that lived before Christ could.

5. The sacrifice that now we have, is better than the former sacrifices (Hebrews 9:23). He that considereth the difference between the bodies of unreasonable creatures, and the body of Christ the Son of God, cannot but know, that there is an infinite excellency in this sacrifice over and above those: if anything under the Gospel may justly be styled, better, than the like under the law, surely this sacrifice may most of all be styled better than those.

6. The blood of Christ, in regard of the cry of it, is styled better. It is said to speak better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:24): because Abel’s blood cried for vengeance; Christ’s, for pardon. Christ when he was upon the cross, where he shed his blood, thus cried, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). Yea further Christ’s blood is better than that blood which was shed on the altars under the law: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4): but “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

7. To insist upon no more particulars, the apostle under this indefinite phrase κρεῖττόν τι, some better thing, compriseth all those good things, which in comparison of the Church of the Jews are bestowed on the Christian Church. For thus he saith, “God hath provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40).

In such a respect, as Gospel-blessings are called better, they are also called new, as, A New Covenant, a New Testament, a new Jerusalem, a new Heaven and Earth, a new name, a new commandment, a new way, a new heart, a new spirit, and a new song. These and other like things are called new, in opposition to old things, which decayed and vanished away (Hebrews 8:13): so as there was a necessity of new things to succeed in their room. These new things shall never wax old: they are new, not only in their beginning, but also in their perpetual continuance; they shall ever be fresh and flourishing, like Aaron’s rod which budded, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds (Numbers 17:8): and so always continued, even as long as the ark of the testimony, before which it was set, remained (Hebrews 9:4). The new Covenant and the new Testament are the same, which were before styled better, and in such like respects called new. Of them therefore I shall need to say no more than what hath been said. The rest that follow are these:

1. A new Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem was of senseless corruptible materials. The new Jerusalem is of lively stones, a spiritual house (Revelation 3:12; 1 Peter 2:5): it is styled the city of God, in regard of the excellency thereof (for excellent things, in Canaan’s language, are said to be things of God) and in regard of that care which God taketh of it, and delight which he takes to be in it. The old Jerusalem was but a type and figure of this.

2. New heavens, and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17): hereby is meant a new face of a Church, far more glorious in the spirituality of it, than the former before Christ.1 The phrase is hyperbolical: it is used to set forth not only a renovation of the Church, but such a renovation as should put the world as it were into a new form and frame; insomuch as he that should attentively look upon it, might say, ‘Behold new heavens and a new earth.’ If it be objected, that an apostle, speaking of the times of the Gospel, saith, “We look for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13), and thereby intends the glory of the world to come. I answer, that excellent matters are sometimes spoken of in their inchoation and progress, and sometimes in their perfection and consummation: so as the new heavens and the new earth, in their beginning and increase, may be under the Gospel, and in their consummation and perfection, after the day of judgment.

3. A new name (Isaiah 62:2). This Christ styleth, his name (Revelation 3:12). This name is to be a Son of God: “For as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). Of old, they were called children of Israel; now, Christians (Acts 11:26): yea the apostle giveth the name Christ to the mystical body of Christ, consisting of many saints (1 Corinthians 12:12).

4. A new commandment (John 13:34). Another kind of commandment than that which was written in tablets of stone. For that exacted an impossibility by reason of the weakness and corruption of our flesh (Romans 8:3): but the new commandment is written in the fleshly tablets of our heart, whereby ability is given unto us cheerfully and acceptably to perform the same.

5. A new way. This is also called a living way, which Christ by his flesh hath consecrated for us (Hebrews 10:20). For Christ himself, having with his own blood entered into the most holy place, hath thereby made full satisfaction for all our sins (which causes the way to Heaven to be impassible), and made the way easy for us to walk in. Thus is he “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6): the only true way that leadeth us unto life.

6. A new heart. This is opposed to a man’s natural heart, which is styled an “heart of stone” (Ezekiel 36:26), in that it is so obdurate, that it will sooner (like a stone) be broken all to pieces, and utterly confounded with God’s judgments, than yield to him and his word. This new heart, is not only freed from that obstinacy, but also made flexible and pliable to the Word of God, and work of his Spirit, and thereupon called an “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

7. A new spirit. This also is opposed to a man’s natural spirit, which in all things resisteth the good Spirit of God. Such a spirit the Jews of old had, of whom Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, thus speaketh, “Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). But this new spirit readily and willingly yieldeth to every good motion of the Spirit of God.

8. A new song. A song which shall sound forth (as the prophet expounds himself) “God’s praises from the end of the earth” (Isaiah 42:10), by reason of the Gospel, whose sound, as the sound of the heavens, “hath gone forth through all the earth” (Romans 10:18): the sum and substance of this new song was sung out by an heavenly choir at the birth of Christ. It was this: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men” (Luke 2:14).

Finally, to insist on no more particulars, there is a promise made, of making all things new (Revelation 21:5). If any shall think that this is meant of the world to come: let him consider how expressly the apostle applies it to the time of the Gospel; saying of that time, “Behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Thus we see how this promise of God’s doing better for his Church in the latter times, is evidenced by sundry particulars, of better, and new things.

Yet further, as if ordinary words and usual comparisons were not sufficient to set forth the great increase of God’s providence, the prophets use very transcendent, and hyperbolical expressions, to set it out the more to the life, and that according to our capacity. To which purpose this increase of God’s providence is thus expressed: “For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron” (Isaiah 60:17): hereby he sheweth, that as wood is better than common stones, and iron better than wood, and brass better than iron, and silver better than brass, and gold better than silver, so much better, yea infinitely more, are the good things of these latter times, better than the good things of former times. Yet further is this increase thus heightened, “The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days” (Isaiah 30:26).2 Who knows not how great a difference there is, between the two lights of the moon and the sun? To make the light of the moon as great as of the sun, must needs be a wonderful great increase. And because there can be no greater light than the light of the sun, he multiplieth that light to the number of perfection, saying, “The light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of seven days.” And to show that no comparisons are sufficient to set out the increase of God’s goodness to the full: it is further said, “The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” (Isaiah 60:19).

If we take a view of the increase of God’s good providence, generation after generation, even from the beginning of the world to the end thereof, it will yet more clearly appear, that as God’s goodness hath ever increased more and more, so the greatest increase thereof hath been in latter times, and so the better things reserved for us, and others who have lived therein.

For the clearer exemplification hereof, we will account the whole continuance of the world, together with the world to come, as one great week: and distinguish the whole course thereof, from the creation to the day of judgment, into six long days, the seventh, being an eternal σαββατισμὸς, a keeping a Sabbath, or rest after the day of judgment.

The six aforementioned days may thus be distinguished:

1. The first from Adam to Noah: wherein, besides God’s goodness in creating the world, was manifested that great evidence of mercy, in promising a Redeemer to free man from his miserable bondage under Satan, whereinto he had implunged himself; the words of the promise are these; “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

By this relative particle it, the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ is meant. The words being spoken to Satan under the serpent, by thy head, is meant Satan, and all his power: by bruising, an utter subduing of the same. The next words, thou shalt bruise his heel, set forth Satan’s attempts against the mystical body of Christ and his annoying of the same in many respects: but so as the heel only the external condition of the foresaid body, not the head, the soul of it, can be crushed. This was a very gracious promise, and a great good.

2. The second day lasted from Noah to Abraham: wherein the Church had that memorable type of God’s preserving it out of that common deluge which destroyed the whole world besides (Genesis 6:18). This type was the ark. This the apostle calls, in relation to baptism, a like figure (1 Peter 3:21).3 For it did lively set forth to the Church such a preservation and deliverance from sin and destruction, as baptism doth. In this respect a more express evidence of God’s goodness was given in this day, than in the former.

3. The third day was from Abraham to David, wherein that precious and express promise of blessing all nations in Abraham’s seed, was made: wherein also Israel was brought out of the Egyptian bondage (a type of the redemption of the Church from her spiritual bondage under sin and Satan). In this day the Tabernacle, with the many other types of Christ, his offices and benefits to his Church were first ordained, and Israel settled in the land of Canaan, a type of their heavenly rest. Thus did this third day far exceed the former in glory.

4. The fourth was from David to the carrying of Israel into captivity. Herein a royal government was given to God’s people (a type of Christ’s royal kingdom). Herein most of the extraordinary prophets (special types of Christ’s prophetical office) were raised up: and most clear prophecies made of the better things to come in the Christian Church. Herein also Solomon’s Temple was built, and sundry new and more glorious types of Christ were made, than in the Tabernacle. So much therefore as this Temple of Solomon excelled the Tabernacle of Moses, and the cherubims, tables, altars, pillars, and all manner of sacred instruments in the temple, surpassed them that were in the Tabernacle: so much more did God’s goodness in this day exceed the goodness of former days.

5. The fifth day was from Israel’s going into captivity to Christ’s ascension into Heaven. This day, for the greatest part thereof, was indeed a dismal day. Yet the delivering of Israel out of the Babylonish captivity, was a more clear and full type of our redemption by Christ, than any former deliverance: whereupon it is said, “It shall no more be said, the Lord liveth that brought the children of Israel up out of the land of Egypt: but the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the lands of the North, and from all the land whither he had driven them” (Jeremiah 16:14–15). The re-edifying of the Temple, was also a principal type of Christ’s resurrection: and of this temple it is said, “The glory of this latter house, shall be greater than of the former” (Haggai 2:9): so as these added much to the glory of this day. But in that the Lord Christ was in the evening of this day actually exhibited: and the things accomplished, which were prefigured by the legal types, and fore-told by the ancient prophets, the goodness of God manifested in this day, far exceeded that which was in former days. In this respect it is said of John the Baptist, who saw and made known that promised Messiah, and was the first that directly pointed him out, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29,36): of him it is said, “among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater” (Matthew 11:11). This was the surpassing glory of the fifth day.

6. The sixth was from Christ’s ascension into Heaven, to his second coming unto judgment. This is the day of the clear and full revelation of all the glorious mysteries that were hidden from the beginning of the world until then. This is the day wherein all the aforementioned new things, and better things were conferred upon the Christian Church. In this day, as better things shall not be given, so better things cannot be expected while the world lasteth. This is the day whereof we may say, “This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Thus from this exemplification of the increase of God’s goodness in the several ages of the world, we may well infer, that God hath provided better things for the latter times.

Questionless, God thus ordereth his good providence upon just and weighty reasons: and though his counsel be unsearchable, and his ways past finding out, in regard of the full latitude of them, yet hath he left some footsteps; wherein and whereby we may observe some grounds of his wise proceedings therein. Among others, I suppose, these may be some:

1. That the extent of his goodness may be more distinctly considered, more clearly discerned, and more transcendently admired. God’s governing of his Church in the world by his providence, is ordered in such a manner, as his prudence in creating the world was manifested.

In that first great work, he still put off the better things to the latter days. He could, if it had pleased him, have created all the things that he did create, at once. Had he at once said, ‘Let there be light, firmament, waters, earth, all manner of trees, and herbs bearing seed, sun, moon and stars, fowls, fishes, beasts and man,’ they had instantly been all; but voluntarily and purposely he took up six days in creating them, and in each day made several and distinct creatures, but ever the better, for the reason before specified. This will evidently appear by an induction of particulars, which follow in order:

a.) The light which he created in the first day, was indeed a glorious creature. But either it was the element of fire (for nowhere else we read of creating fire) or else it was some other light, which was of use but for three days: for in the fourth day those lights were made, which have hitherto continued, and shall continue to the world’s end. So as either this light was annihilated, when those were made, or else it was settled in the body of the sun.

b.) In the second day the firmament or air was made, and called heaven: then also were the seas and earth made. If we mark the text, we shall find that the blessing of the second day’s work is not expressed, until the seas and earth were made (Genesis 1:10).4 These three, air, water, earth, are the three elements, of which all bodies are compounded. These are more excellent than the fore-said light, in regard of their continual use.

c.) In the third day all the grass and herb yielding seed, and the tree yielding fruit after his kind were made. These being vegetable creatures, by reason of that life which is in them, excelled the former.

d.) In the fourth day the host of heaven was made. This day’s work in the glory and immutability of it, and in the constant perpetual motion, running most swiftly round about the world every day, without wasting or weariness, excelled all that went before.

e.) In the fifth day all the fowl of heaven, and fish in the sea were created. These having life and sense in them, and voluntarily moving from place to place, surpassed the very host of heaven.

f.) In the sixth day, besides other creatures living on the earth, Man was made: Man, in the image of God. This was God’s master-piece, and reserved unto the last working day. By this distinct increase of God’s goodness, God comes the more to be admired, and his wisdom, power and other excellencies the better discerned. The like course therefore God took in his providence.

2. God provides better things for the latter times, to make those better things to be the more earnestly desired and longed for, before they come: and to be the more highly prized, and the better esteemed, after they are exhibited. It is said, “That many prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear the things which were seen and heard in Christ’s days” (Matthew 13:17), which were the last days. It is also said, that the prophets “searched diligently, what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). Certainly the putting off the great blessing of the exhibition of Christ to the latter times, made it to be the more desired, and the better esteemed. When he was exhibited, the angel that brought the first tidings thereof, thus expresseth it, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). And the blessed Virgin, so soon as she conceived him in her womb, thus breaks out, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47). And good old Zacharias, when the fore-runner of Christ was born, thus in great joy breaks out, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,” and so forth (Luke 1:68). And another good old man, having embraced Christ, when he was but a little infant, sweetly sings forth this swan-like song, “Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:29). Their long expectation of Christ thus affected them, when at length their longing was satisfied.

3. God put off his best things to the last times, because in his unsearchable wisdom he ordained, that his Son should be sent into the world in the latter age thereof; that thereby he might be known to be the best of God’s gifts, and to excel all other gifts, that were before conferred upon the Church. He is said to be “sent forth when the fullness of time was come” (Galatians 4:4). The Church had been as a breeding woman. She began first to conceive, when God made the promise of the woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15). She grew bigger and bigger through many other promises, prophecies, types and figures, whereby her hope in the Messiah was nourished. At the fullness of time she travelled, and brought forth this long expected man-child. The better things, which were now brought to pass in this fullness of time, added much to the honour of him that was then born: then was the fullness of God’s grace and goodness manifested: so as this God thus ordered even for the honour of his Son.

Hitherto of the doctrinal part of my text. It is time to come to the application thereof. The uses of God’s providence in reserving better things to the latter times, are of manifold and singular use. For:

1. It affords a demonstration of the detestableness of the Romish religion, which hath directly perverted the fore-mentioned course of God’s providence to his Church. For, where God provides better for the latter times, they make these latter times to be far the worse. As they handle the matter, their Church under the Gospel is many ways in a worse case then the state of the Church was under the Law. Among many other instances I will note only four:

a.) Their public reading of God’s Word, administering the sacraments, praying and performing other divine services in an unknown tongue, make the mysteries of the Gospel less intelligible, more obscure, and every way less edifying then all the rites, types and shadows under the Law did.5 “Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air,” saith the apostle (1 Corinthians 14:9).6 And again, “If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me” (1 Corinthians 14:11).

b.) Their unbloody sacrifice (as they style it) of a feigned transubstantiated body, is far worse than if they had such sacrifices of beasts and fowls, as were under the Law. Those sacrifices, at that time, did set out the virtue of Christ’s death, and nourish their faith and hope in the benefits thereof. But the fore-said popish sacrifice would take away the virtue and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice, if it could be taken away.7 For I demand, whether the sacrifice that they pretend to offer up, be the very same, that Christ himself offered upon the cross. If they say, the same, what need is there that it should be offered up again? (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26,18; 10:10). Was not Christ’s once offering of it up sufficient? (Hebrews 7:11, etc.). The apostle doth assuredly intend as much by his frequent mention of this word once, which is exclusively to be taken: once for all, and not to be reiterated. If it be another sacrifice, then the sacrifice of Christ was not perfect. For hereby the apostle proveth the priesthood of the Law to be unperfect; because another was to succeed in the room of it. Whereas some say, that their offering up of the body of Christ, is but by way of application; that seems to contradict their own position; for they teach that the fore-mentioned transubstantiated body, offered up by a priest, is a true, real, propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and dead. Besides, the end of Christ’s intercession, and the virtue thereof is made void by that which is avouched of the applicatory virtue of their sacrifice. For the continual application of Christ’s own sacrifice, is the end of Christ’s intercession. They think to evade all these absurdities by a distinction betwixt a bloody and unbloody sacrifice, saying, that the sacrifice which Christ himself offered up was a bloody sacrifice, but that which they offer up, unbloody. To this distinction I answer.

i. It is without any warrant or ground from Scripture.

ii. It being applied, according to their position, to one and the same thing (for they say that the body of Christ, which their priest offereth up, is the very same that Christ offered upon the cross) it implieth contradictory terms, namely, that the same thing should be bloody and unbloody.

iii. According to their own position, their sacrifice cannot be unbloody: for they hold that the wine is transubstantiated into blood, as well as the bread into a body, and both make one sacrifice. How can that be unbloody, which consists of blood? Yea, of blood poured out, as their wine is into the chalice, and out of the chalice into the priest’s mouth.

iv. If it be unbloody, it hath no virtue for the taking away of sin: For “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

c.) The third instance of their making the state of the Christian Church worse than of the Jewish, is their unwarrantable and inhumane penance (which oft they enjoin to their penitents, for satisfaction) and other barbarous courses, whereunto they persuade men upon pretense of merit and perfection.8 They have in these cases some whom they style Eremites, who live in remote places from all society, and feed upon such fruit, roots, and other things that the earth bringeth forth, lodging in caves, dens or cellars, digged out of the ground. Others they call Anchorites, who live enclosed betwixt walls, and on the Sabbath receive their sustenance for the whole week. Others they either enjoy, or persuade to whip their naked backs with scourges of cords, wires, and sharp rundals, until the blood run down, and skin and flesh be torn from their backs. Others must lie in shirts of hair cloth. Others go bare foot and bare legged to such and such shrines. Others undertake long pilgrimages to remote lands; nay, they stick not to send a queen to Tyburn upon penance. Did the Law ever impose such hard tasks upon any that were under the pedagogy thereof?

d.) The last instance that I will give of putting an heavier yoke upon the necks of Christians, than the Law did upon the Jews, shall be the innumerable, unwarrantable, and intolerable rites, which on mere humane inventions are obtruded upon their people. These must needs be heavier burdens than the rites of the Law, in three respects especially:

i. In that they lie as dead things on men’s shoulders, which make them the heavier. The life of rites in God’s service, consisteth in divine institution, and warrantable signification. But popish rites are neither instituted of God, nor have any warrantable signification, whereupon he that useth them may rest. The rites of the Law had both their institution and signification from God.

ii. There is no set stint of them. For man’s inventions are endless. They have no set and certain rule to be ordered and moderated by. But God set down a distinct number of rites to the Jews, whereunto there was no need to add any other.

iii. When all is done that can be done about the foresaid popish rites, they can give no sound satisfaction to the conscience. If the doers thereof should plead them before God, what other answer could they receive, but this, “Who hath required this at your hand?” (Isaiah 1:12). Or thus, “In vain they worship me,” and so forth (Matthew 15:9).

Much more might be said in manifesting the wrong, which in this kind our adversaries do to the Christian Church, and in manifesting the blindness of those, that suffer themselves to be led with such blind guides. Blessed be God that hath delivered us out of that worse than Egyptian darkness.

The progress of God’s providence unto the better, gives us information in their folly, who on too great admiration of those external glorious types, which were under the Law, do wish the continuance of them still: as such a temple as Solomon built, such cherubims, such altars, such tables, such candle-sticks, such lavers, such priestly vestments, and other such vessels and instruments, as were precious in their matter, being of pure and fine brass, silver, gold, fine linen, silk, scarlet, pearls, precious stones, and very curious in their workmanship, and glorious to the sight. Herein they manifest their folly, in that they do not understand nor discern the excellency of those spiritual and celestial things which God hath now provided for his church: whereof those external and earthly, though seemingly glorious types, were but shadows and figures; herein they show themselves like to our first parents, who were deceived with the fair show and pleasant taste of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6).

Some, whom we may well style Jewish Christians, so far manifest their folly in this kind, as they do not only wish those former times, but also actually conform themselves to that servile pedagogy. For what fish, fowl and beast were then forbidden, they still hold unlawful to be eaten, though God hath forbidden us to call that unclean which he hath cleansed (Acts 10:15), and reckons abstaining from meats, which God hath created to be received, among “doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1,3). The last day also of the week they still keep for their Sabbath, though the first day of the week, in memorial of Christ’s resurrection, be expressly set down in the New Testament, for Christians’ holy assembling together (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).

Too near to these do they come, who though they do not tie themselves to the very same rites and ordinances, whereto the Jews were bound, yet tread too near upon their heels, and too apishly imitate them: and that in matters about divine service: as in fair embroidered copes, and other ministers-vestments; in high standing altars; in low cringings and bowings; in turning to the east, as they to the Temple, when they pray; in variety of musical instruments and artificial anthems; in multitude of holy days, with the like; whereof even this Church stood formerly too guilty. These Jewish Christians do both justify the poor blind Jews, who yet retain as many of the Mosaic ceremonies as they can (in that Christians have a greater light, the light of the Gospel, to discover unto them the abrogation of that Law, together with the reason thereof) and also do harden their hearts, and make them bold in cleaving to their Law, when they see such as profess themselves Christians, come so near there unto.

[3.] God’s increasing goodness may give some satisfaction to such as make question of church governors, proper and peculiar to the Church.

Of such I demand, whether it be a good, useful, and needful thing, for the Church to have governors of its own; and secondly, whether the Church of the Jews had such governors, or no. Surely, methinks neither of these should be denied. Have not families, schools of learning, colleges, universities, cities, towns, all manner of corporations, companies and societies, governors proper and peculiar to themselves: besides the public magistrates, who are also over them? Is it not by experience found, that such proper and peculiar governors are needful and useful, and so good in their several spheres? And shall the best society on earth, the militant Church, be without ecclesiastical governors, proper and peculiar to it? I suppose none will deny, but that the Church of Israel had such governors: instance their priests and Levites. In Jehoshaphat’s time there is an express distinction made betwixt ecclesiastical and civil governors under these two phrases, “matters of the Lord, and matters of the king” (2 Chronicles 19:11). If church-governors were an evidence of God’s good providence under the Law, surely his providence in this kind, would not be more scanty to the Church under the Gospel: for he hath promised to do better than at her beginnings. A change of governors there may be, and that for the better; but an utter abolishing of all governors, proper and peculiar to the Church, cannot be to the better. We expressly read that “God hath set in his Church,” among other good functions, “governments” (1 Corinthians 12:28). If it be said, that under that word, governments, civil magistrates are understood:9 I answer, that first this phrase, “God hath set in the Church,” and then the other particulars, among which governments are reckoned, being all proper and peculiar to the Church, admit not such an interpretation thereof. To them which ask where any mention is made of a ruling elder, I allege these words of an apostle, “The elders that rule well,” and so forth (1 Timothy 5:17). Apply them as you please, to ministers or others: there are ruling elders. The word ἡγούμενοι, twice used by an apostle (Hebrews 13:7,17), and translated by our last and best translators of the Bible, them that have rule, sheweth, that ministers of the Gospel are church-governors: for Christians are required to obey them. And that ministers are there meant, is evident by these phrases, “They have spoken unto you the Word of God, and they watch for your souls” (Hebrews 13:7).

To show that this kind of government doth not entrench upon the authority of the civil magistrate, let the difference betwixt them be well-observed, and that in these three particulars:

a.) Civil magistrates command in their own name, or in the name of a superior civil magistrate, thus, ‘I charge you in the name of the King.’ But church-governors, in the name of Christ.

b.) Civil magistrates require obedience to themselves, church-governors, to Christ.

c.) Civil magistrates press on their subjects their own laws, as statutes and ordinances made by themselves. Church-governors, the ordinances of Christ.

4. The progress of God’s providence to the better, is a great aggravation of the ungracious and ungrateful disposition of many people, if not of most, whom God hath reserved to these latter times. God hath graciously done better for them, and they deal worse with God. Such are:

a.) They who remain blind and ignorant under the clear light of the Gospel. A wonder it is, that there should be so little knowledge, where there is so plentiful means of knowledge. Note an apostle’s doom of such, “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, whose eyes the god of the world hath blinded” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

b.) They who are unstable, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, notwithstanding the evident demonstration of the truth now made known unto us. The apostle resembles them to children (Ephesians 4:14), whereas for the time we ought to be as grown strong men (Hebrews 5:12).

c.) Such as are ever weak in faith, full of doubts and fears (James 1:6–7). Oft doth Christ check his disciples for this (Matthew 8:26, 14:31). Such come far short in strength of faith, of those who lived before these better times. Witness that catalogue of believers which the apostle maketh, Hebrews 11.

d.) Such as take advantage, from the abundance of God’s mercy, to exceed in sin. In the apostles’ time, upon this gracious extent of grace to great sinners, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20); some made this impious and unjust inference, “let us continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). These make sin the proper procuring cause of God’s grace,10 which is every way free: only God takes occasion from the misery where into sin implungeth man, to extend mercy unto him: and that abundance of sin may not hinder the current of his grace, he causeth it to abound.11 Besides, they who infer the fore-said unjust consequence, apply that to sins future, which is spoken of sins past;12 and extend that to obstinate and impenitent sinners, which is intended to such as groan under the burden of their sins.

e.) Such as from the comfortable doctrine of election to life, infer that they shall assuredly be saved, though they live never so lewdly: not considering that they who are ordained to the end, are ordained to the means that bring to that end (Ephesians 1:4).

f.) Such as from God’s wisdom in bringing good out of evil, take occasion to do evil, upon this pretense, that good may come. The apostle most justly makes this inference upon theirs, “whose damnation is just” (Romans 3:8): implying thereby, that damnation is their due, and that most justly.

g.) Such as upon God’s pardoning a sinner, whensoever he repents, put off their repentance: not considering that men have not power to repent when they will: so as such may never repent, and never be pardoned.

h.) Such as from that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, imagine that they are freed from all obedience to the moral Law: whereas that liberty is only from the rigour of the Law, which binds to a perfect fulfilling thereof in every part, point and degree of it, and from the curse thereof (Galatians 3:10, 2:3; Romans 8:1).

i.) Such as deny the morality of the Christian Sabbath, and profane it with all manner of sports, because the ancient day is changed by virtue of Christ’s resurrection. All these and other like them “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness”; that is, into all kind of licentious living. An apostle gives this verdict of them, “They were of old ordained to condemnation” (Jude v.4)

j.) All “that having escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, are again entangled therein, and overcome, and wilfully sin, after they have received the knowledge of the truth” (2 Peter 2:20, cf. Hebrews 10:26). In a word, all apostates from the true faith, deal most ungraciously and ungratefully with God. I may well use Moses his exprobration against them, “Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise?” (Deuteronomy 32:6). The fore-mentioned gospel-sins, and others like unto them, do much grieve the good Spirit of God, and they that commit them go far “in treading underfoot the Son of God, and counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy thing” (Hebrews 10:29). By the means of grace they are “exalted unto heaven”: but by their abuse thereof they are “brought down unto hell” (Matthew 11:23). So as the woe denounced against those, among whom Christ much conversed, may be applied to these. The inference which the apostle maketh upon gospel-sinners, cannot but terrify such as heed it, it is this, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God?” (Hebrews 10:28–29).

But from these uses of error and terror, I proceed to uses of another kind:

5. Much consolation may be gathered by faithful ones, from the continual increase of God’s providence, in such sad, doubtful, dangerous days, as these our days are. For we may with confidence expect better things. The days wherein the prophet first uttered this prophecy were worse days than ours are; and to comfort the faithful that then lived, and such others as should from age to age live after them, he revealed this promise. There are more particular promises concerning a future glory of the Christian Church, set down by the prophets in the Old Testament, and by Christ and his apostles in the New, especially in the book of the Revelation, than we have either heard of, or seen in our days to be accomplished. The glorious city described in Revelation 21:10f. is by many judicious divines taken for a type of a spiritual, glorious estate of the Church of Christ under the Gospel yet to come, and that before his last coming to judgment. I pass by all conceits of our latter Chiliasts or Millenaries (whom in English we may call Thousandaries), who imagine, that Christ shall personally come down from heaven, in that nature in which after his resurrection he ascended into heaven, and reign here a thousand years with his saints. The certainty of this I leave to be proved by them who are the broachers thereof. But this is most certain, that there are yet better things to come than have been since the first calling of the Gentiles. Among other better things to come, the recalling of the Jews is most clearly and plentifully foretold by the prophets. Many apply sundry prophecies that tend that way, to the delivery of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; and others, to the spiritual Israel, consisting of Gentiles. But assuredly such prophecies as foretell the re-uniting of Judah and Ephraim together, have especial reference to the fore-said recalling of the Jews: as that parable, whereof this our prophet maketh mention, about joining two sticks, on the one whereof was written, “For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions”; and on the other, “For Joseph the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions” (Ezekiel 37:16). That parable the prophet thus applieth, “I will make them one nation, and one king shall be king to them all,” and so forth (Ezekiel 37:22).

But if any shall question this and other prophecies of the ancient prophets. The apostle Paul hath so expressly fore-told “a recalling of the Jews,” and thereupon, “a bringing in a fullness of the Gentiles,” as no question can be made thereof: and he doth after such a manner express these, as apparently declareth a future glory of the Christian Church. Some particular expressions of his in the 11th to the Romans, are these:

a.) Verse 11. Having propounded this question concerning the Jews, “Have they stumbled, that they should fall?” (namely, totally and finally, never to be raised again). He gives this answer, “God forbid.” Whereby he implieth, that assuredly they shall be raised again, that is, they shall be made a visible Church of Christ, and submit themselves to his ordinances.

b.) Verse 12. This supposition, “If the fall of them be riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles: how much more their fullness?” By their fullness, he meaneth their bringing them in to the Church of Christ, consisting of Gentiles, and thereby making that Church full, when both Gentiles and Jews shall be joined together.

c.) Verse 15. This question (“What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?”) doth take it for grant, that they shall be received, and taken into the Church of Christ; and that this restoration of theirs will be as a new glorious resurrection.

d.) Verse 23. It is said, “They also shall be grafted in”; namely, into the body of the Christian Church; and a proof thereof is taken from God’s omnipotency, for God is able to graft them in again.

e.) Verse 24. This emphatic interrogation, “How much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive-tree?” doth put it out of all question, that the Jews shall again be brought to be of the true Church, which is the olive-tree here intended.

f.) Verse 25. This restrictive particle, in part (“blindness in part is happened unto Israel”) doth import, that they shall not be finally blinded, but that at length they shall come to have their eyes so opened, as they shall know and believe in Jesus Christ. This is further manifested by expressing the period of this limitation, thus, “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.”

g.) Verse 26. This general phrase; “All Israel shall be saved,” sheweth, that there is a time to come, when not only two or three, or a few Jews here and there throughout the Christian Church (as have been in all ages thereof) but the whole nation shall be called.

h.) Verse 31. This phrase, “Through your mercy they also may obtain mercy”; sheweth, that God purposely suffered them sometime to abide in unbelief, that when they should be brought to believe, this grace and honour might appear to arise from God’s mere mercy and free grace. The words following in the next verse do show as much: they are these, “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.”

Thus we see that there is a calling of the Jews to come, and that their calling shall be as a resurrection from the dead, as an incision of many more branches into a glorious tree, that it shall be an universal, conspicuous calling of a whole nation, wherein the freeness and largeness of God’s grace and mercy shall be evidently manifested. At which time there shall be also such a number of Gentiles brought in, as may well be called the “fullness of the Gentiles” (verse 25). This certainly shall be a most glorious condition of the Christian church, and this is yet to come: therefore God will yet do better things for us. In expectation whereof we may comfort ourselves, though for a while thick clouds of troubles do over-spread the face of the Church, and somewhat eclipse the glorious brightness thereof.

Yea further, we may expect better things than yet we do enjoy, upon the fore-mentioned progress of God’s good providence, before that glorious calling of the Jews be accomplished. For the Jews, after this promise made, before the first coming of the Messiah, and calling of the Gentiles, had conferred upon them many better things than before. They were brought out of captivity to their own land. A second Temple was built. The Law was restored unto them by Ezra, and many other blessings. So after Christ’s first coming, the Gospel was preached in many nations, multitudes of churches were erected and established, the Gospel confirmed by many undaunted martyrs. Yea, after much persecution, the Church had great rest and liberty in Constantine’s, and other Christian emperors’ times. And though that rest and liberty were in time exceedingly abused, by the ambition of prelates, which at length brought it to the height of papacy, yet God by a Reformation in these latter times, shewed that he was mindful of this his promise, and did better things for her than before.

This may further be exemplified by God’s doing better for us here in England than at our beginnings. For as the thick dark cloud of anti-christianism over-spread the sky of the whole Christian Church for many years together, so did it clean keep away the bright shining of the Gospel from England. But it pleased God almost three hundred years ago, in the reign of Edward the Third, to raise up John Wycliffe, a professor at Oxford, to hold out the light of the Gospel, so as many in those days were much enlightened thereby.

Among other principles wherein he instructed the people, these were some:

a.) The Eucharist, after consecration, is not the very body of Christ, but figuratively.

b.) The Church of Rome is not the head of all churches, more than any church is. Nor hath Peter any more power given of Christ, then any other apostle hath.

c.) The Pope of Rome hath no more in the keys of the Church, than any other within the order of priesthood.

d.) The Gospel is a rule sufficient of itself to rule the life of every Christian man here, without any other rule.

e.) All other rules, under whose observances diverse religious persons be governed, do add no more perfection to the Gospel, than doth the white colour to the wall.

These and other like positions wrought so effectually upon the hearts of noble and mean persons, as this may be accounted a good beginning, wherein many rejoiced; but no public reformation was wrought thereupon.

About an hundred and fifty years after, the Lord did better than at that beginning. For he stirred up both King and Parliament to go further in suppressing popery, and advancing the Gospel. Witness that Act of Parliament, in Henry the Eighth his days, whereby the Pope’s usurped authority in England was taken away; and liberty given to the King to reform abuses [which had] crept into the Church. The King, by virtue thereof, sent out injunctions for removing images, reading the Holy Scriptures, and performing all divine service in English: preaching God’s Word, catechising children, and observing other duties of piety: so as the Gospel began to shine forth somewhat brightly in England. Only it was much obscured by another Act of Parliament, even in that King’s time, which established transubstantiation, communion in one kind, private masses, auricular confession, vows of chastity and prohibiting priests’ marriages.

[3.] About seven years after, that King being dead, and his son, King Edward the Sixth, a child of nine years old (yet another Josiah), set on the throne, God did better for England than before. For the foresaid Act (commonly called the scourge with six strings) was repealed: and a more thorough reformation established. But even then, many of the people’s hearts so lingered after Romish superstition, as the Israelites did after the high places, in the reign of Asa (2 Chronicles 15:17), Jehoshaphat and other good kings (2 Chronicles 20:33): so as this goodly reformation continued but six years; for God took away that good young king. After whose death a popish bloody Queen utterly defaced the foresaid Reformation, and brought in that dark cloud of popery, which overshadowed this whole land.

4. God being mindful of his goodness to his Church, within five years after raised up blessed Queen Elizabeth, in whose reign that dark cloud of popery was more thoroughly dispelled than ever before: and religion, in regard of the truth and soundness of doctrine was restored to as full an integrity, as ever it was in the Christian church since the apostles’ time.13 A grave, learned and judicious outlandish divine giveth this testimony of Queen Elizabeth, that under her that was granted to her kingdom, which he knew not whether it were given to any other kingdom or no, namely, an entire profession of the pure and sincere doctrine of the Gospel. More learned and stout champions, were in her reign raised up to maintain the same faith, than ever before in this kingdom.

5. There is yet another reformation now begun in this land,14 which being added to the former, evidently demonstrates that God doth intend better things than at our beginnings. This is the reformation of the discipline and government of the Church: concerning which the foresaid judicious divine thus saith, “If to the profession of true doctrine, a full reformation of ecclesiastical discipline be also added, surely I see not what England can more desire.”

If any shall object, that in many respects the state of our Church hath grown worse and worse, I answer, that by reason of our sluggishness, want of zeal, and unworthy walking of that light which God graciously afforded, clouds of error and superstition gathered together: as by the negligence and wickedness of the Israelites, the Canaanites were not utterly destroyed, but proved to be “snares and traps unto them, and scourges in their sides, and thorns in their eyes” (Joshua 23:13). Yet God did time after time remove those impediments, and cause the light of his Gospel more and more brightly to shine forth.

Why then may not we yet look for better things than at the beginning of our Reformation, and hope that as then the doctrine of the Gospel was restored to the purity of it: so the government also of the Church be restored to its purity. Comfort yourselves in these sad times with this hope.

6. God’s reserving his better things to the latter times, ministreth unto us, who have been reserved unto these latter times, much matter of gratulation. The least of us, which live in this kingdom of God (styled, for the celestial excellency thereof, the Kingdom of Heaven) the least of us, I say, is greater than he of whom it is said, “Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater” (Matthew 11:11). Had we lived in the ancient former times, and believed the promises of things exhibited in these times, how should we have enquired and searched after them? The prophets so did (1 Peter 1:10). How should we have desired to see them? Many prophets and kings so did (Luke 10:24). How should we have rejoiced to see this day? Abraham so did (John 8:56). Now that we are reserved to live in this time, to hear, see and enjoy these better things, should not our hearts be filled with praises, and our mouths opened to utter the same? God hath made an abundant recompense unto us, who live in these latter days, for putting off our time of living in this world so long. It is to our unspeakable advantage and benefit; and shall not God have the praise thereof? True believers now have greater cause than old Zacharias had to sing and say, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people” (Luke 1:68). Yea, than old Simeon had to say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:29). These old men saw but the sun-rising of the Gospel. We see it shining forth in the full brightness thereof. Should not we then be thankful, even for the times wherein we live?

Well may I, from the fore-mentioned doctrine, raise an exhortation of worthy walking, that is, of carrying ourselves answerably to this good providence of God, in reserving us to the enjoying of better things. This worthy walking in general is much pressed in Scripture, “We charge you that you would walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). “We cease not to desire that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Colossians 1:10). “I beseech ye that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1).

This word ἀξίως, worthy, doth not intend any merit, but a mere meetness; no condignity, but a congruity and correspondency to that whereunto it is referred. This is evident by that phrase which the Baptist useth, where he exhorteth to bring forth fruits “worthy repentance” (Matthew 3:8), which our last and best translators thus turn, “fruits meet for repentance.” And in the margin thus, “fruits answerable to amendment of life.” If in that place ἀξίως, worthy, should be taken for any matter of desert, it might be thus translated, “fruits which deserve repentance,” that is, such as are to be repented of. And what are those fruits, think ye? Surely evil, such as those whereof the apostle thus saith, “What fruit had you then of those things, whereof you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21). A catalogue of them is reckoned up, Galatians 5:19–21. But the word ἀξίως, is derived from άζωαξω, which signifieth to poise: and the metaphor is taken from things equally poised: there being the like weight in each balance, they stand even. Thus when man’s inward disposition, and outward conversation is answerable to God’s gracious dispensation, it is in Scripture dialect called “a worthy walking.” Hereby therefore it I intended, that we who live in these latter times, and enjoy the better things which God hath provided for his Church, should more abound in knowledge, be more strengthened in faith, be more established in hope, be more enlarged in our hearts with a zeal of God’s glory, be more conformable in our lives to his holy will, be more charitable to such as stand in need, be more diligent and faithful in employing and improving our talent, more patient under crosses, more ready and forward to suffer for the name of Christ, and to seal up our holy profession, even with our blood, if we be called thereunto. It is not enough for us to be “followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12); but we must strive to outstrip them. As we have more means of grace, so we must more abound in the measure of all Christian graces. The aforementioned worthy walking intends thus much.

But may some say, ‘Is this possible? Can the best of us now come near to Abraham, other patriarchs and prophets, in knowledge, faith, patience and other like graces?’

I answer first, that indeed some had the Spirit in such an extraordinary manner and measure bestowed on them, as they might excel such as live under the Gospel. But the comparison is not so much betwixt person and person, as betwixt body and body. So as the point intended is, that God’s people in these times should excel his people in those times.

Again, though in some particular extraordinary gifts and revelations, some of them excelled, yet in a full and distinct knowledge of all the mysteries of the Gospel, and in other graces, we may and ought to excel them.

If you be persuaded to the foresaid worthy walking, I will make bold to set before you a direction, whereby you may be much helped thereunto.

In general it is this, that in every of the foresaid days of the great week of the world, you observe the most eminent persons recorded in the sacred Scripture, and the most excellent graces for which they are commended, and thereby be stirred up to an holy emulation.

This that ye may the better do, I will endeavor to set before you (as the apostle doth, Hebrews 11) some of the prime patterns, in every day:

1. In the first day note especially Abel, Enosh and Enoch. Abel so ordered his offering, as his person and offering was accepted (Genesis 4:4, Hebrews 11:4). His faith occasioned it. Enosh gathered assemblies together to worship God, and frequented the same (Genesis 4:26). Enoch in all that he did had his eye on God, to approve himself unto God (Genesis 5:24).

2. In the second day observe Noah, Japhet, Shem, Melchizedek. Noah shined as a bright light in a dark and wicked world (Genesis 6:9–11). Japheth with his brother Shem, covered his father’s infirmity (Genesis 9:23). Melchizedek blessed God for Abram’s victory, and encouraged his soldiers (Genesis 14:18–20).

3. In the third day very many are set before us, as the three great patriarchs: who all with much patience passed thorough many trials, and long lived, and died in the faith of those promises, which after their days were to be accomplished (Hebrews 11:13). Joseph in an impious and idolatrous land kept his integrity (Genesis 42:18). Caleb was a man of an invincible spirit in God’s cause (Numbers 14:24). Joshua also with his household would serve the Lord, though none else did it (Joshua 24:15). How careful were the judges to draw the people from idolatry, and to keep them close to God (Judges 2:16)? Ruth, after she had been instructed in the true religion, went from her own country, with a poor mother in law, to the true Church (Ruth 1:16).

4. In the fourth day we have excellent patterns of singular governors, as David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah and others, who made it their main end, and put forth their utmost power to advance God’s glory, settle and restore true religion and peace, and procure good to their people. In that day also, there were multitudes of faithful prophets, who held close to God’s Word, and would not falsify it for fear or favor. Such were Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so forth.

5. In the fifth day there were worthy restorers and reformers of religion, builders up of the house of God, and redressers of grievances in state, and preservers of God’s people from pernicious plots of adversaries. Such were Zerubbabel, Jehoshua, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther, and so forth.

6. In the beginning of the sixth day, there were painful and faithful preachers of the Gospel, zealous and pious professors of the true faith: merciful and charitable brethren: constant and courageous martyrs.

These being reserved to the beginning of the last day, wherein the better things were exhibited, answerably carried themselves, and were in many respects better than such as lived before them.

Should not we then who live in the latter part of the last day (to which better things are reserved than in the former part) endeavour to be better than all the former? What a shame is it to us to be so ignorant, so superstitious, so doubtful, so fearful, so cold and backward to good, so impatient, so discontent, so worldly, so wicked, as many of us are? If the men of Nineveh, and Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment against the Jews, who lived in Christ’s time (Matthew 12:41–42): much more shall such as lived either in the beginning of this last day, or in other days before it, rise up in judgment against us. I will conclude this point, and my sermon too, with that inference which an apostle makes upon a like ground, in these words, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

FINIS.

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1 Non dixit alios caelos & aliā, terran videbi. mus, sed antiquos in melius commutatos. Hier. Com. in Isa. 65.

2 Luna fulgebit, ut sol, &c. non significat interitum pristinorum, sed commutationem in mell us. Hier. Com. in Isa. 65:1, 18.

3 Beza transsere. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 correspondens exem lar. Vide annotat ejus majores in hunc locum Suidas, ait ἀντίτυπον, sumi pro similitudine.

4 Aben Ezra ali {que} referunt maria & terram ad esundum diem, eò quod post quā illa creata fuerunt dictum sit v. 10. Vidit Deus quod bonū esset.

5 Bellarm. de effect. Sacr. l. 2. c. 31.

6 Rhem. Annot. on 1 Cor. 14.

7 Concil. Trid. Decret 10. c. 2. Bellarm. de Miss. l. 1. c. 5. & 12. & l. 2. c. 7.

8 Alij degentes in remotis & abditu locis singuli singulas cellas veluti sepulchro, inhabitant, &c. Annonam totius bebdomadae Sabbato accipiunt, ac omnimo de humanae consolationis expertes, &c. Alij antris, speluncis, parietibus se includunt, &c. Sune etiam quisqualores solitudinum requarūt, bestiale ferarū consortium non pertimescunt, &c. Otho. Frisingins. l 1. cap. 35.

9 ἡγεμόνος both in sacred Scriptures and other authors signifieth a governor. מוֹשֵׁ֖ל (Micah 5:2) ἄρχον, dominator, is styled ἡγούμενος, Matthew 2:6. ἡγεμόνος is also opposed to διακονῶν, him that serveth, Luke 22:26 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Qui imperat voluptatibus. Islo a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Plutaron. Difference betwixt magistrates and church-governors.

10 Causa pro non causa.

11 Objectum pro non objecto.

12 Subjecum pro nos subjecto.

13 Tihi, Regina, tu•s {que} populis, quod haud scio, an cuiquam nostra tempe-state regno per te datum est, pura videlicet ac fincerae E¦vangelij. doctrinae integra professio. B•za in Epist. Ded. Reginae Eliza.

14 Ad quam si plenam quos {que} ecclesiasticae disciplinae instaurationem adjunxeris, lane non video quid us Anglia ipsa possità te flagi. tare. Ibi.

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