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VOL. I. 

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The preparation of a new edition of Bishop Hall's 
Works, undertaken some time since for the Delegates 
of the University Press, has been delayed from various 
causes, with which it is unnecessary to trouble the 

A very few prefatory remarks will be sufficient to 
state what the present Editor has done. 

Before the commencement of this century no com- 
plete collection of the Bishop's voluminous writings 
had been made. In the year 1808 this want was in a 
great measure supplied. The Rev. Josiah Pratt pub- 
lished in ten volumes almost everything of importance 
which had fallen from the Bishop's pen. Mr. Pratt 
bestowed great pains upon the work : he arranged 
the several pieces in a methodical form, distributing 
them under separate heads ; and added a Glossary, 
with a view evidently of placing it before the world 
in a popular shape. A large measure of gratitude 
is due to him for what he accomplished. Other 
portions of the pious Author's works were from time 
to time published by different individuals ; but these 
for the most part were such only as were well known 
and eagerly read on account of their devotional cha- 

In the year 1839 a new collective edition was put 
forth in Oxford, superintended, and, as he himself 



states, enlarged, by the Rev. Peter Hall, M. A. of 
Brasenose College, a descendant of the Bishop. His 
diligence seems to have been stimulated by the 
relationship which he was proud to claim to that 
great and good man ; and he added to the work some 
few pieces which had never before appeared in print, 
or if printed had escaped general notice. In the main 
however he closely followed the edition of Mr. Pratt ; 
and the two, save only with respect to the additions, 
would seem to be nearly identical 

In preparing the present publication it has been the 
Editor's object to present the Author to the world 
unencumbered, except only for occasional elucidation, 
with extraneous notes and remarks ; to give an ac- 
curate and faithful text ; and to verify quotations 
either in that or the Authors own notes, by referring to 
the sources from which they were derived For the first 
of these purposes the earlier editions of the Works have 
been collated, and such readings adopted as appeared 
to have the greatest amount of authority in their 
favour. It is true indeed that the number of passages 
. open to question is very limited, as several editions, 
almost all indeed, except those of the present century, 
had been published in the Author's lifetime, and the 
errors, whatever they may have been, at once probably 
discovered and corrected. This therefore has been a 
task of no great difficulty. But the verification of 
passages cited, as well in the text as in the notes, has 
involved a considerable amount of labour — labour of 
which frequently all evidence is wanting from the un- 
successful nature of the search. The Bishop's reading 
was so extensive, that he is often led to introduce into 
the text not so much the actual words as the general 
meaning and purport of the passage which he has in 
his mind. Then again in the notes placed in the margin 
the writers name is often given without the title of the 

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work, or the latter without any reference to the chapter 
or page. Notwithstanding these difficulties, which must 
more or less stand in the way of almost all editors of such 
works, few authors named have, it is hoped, altogether 
escaped investigation, and fewer still referred to with- 
out the passage being examined, and its place ascer- 

The references thus verified by the present Editor, 
as well as the notes which he has supplied, are in- 
dicated by angular brackets ; whilst those correctly 
quoted by the Author remain without any distinctive 
mark, and those which have been examined by Mr. Pratt 
or Mr. Peter Hall are marked by their respective names 
or initials ; and the same rule has been observed with 
regard to any notes added by editors of other portions 
of the works. 

The arrangement of the several works made by 
Mr. Ptatt has been generally followed, though in some 
few instances for convenience sake departed from. 
With this view all the Latin works have been placed 
together in the last volume — those which had been 
translated by the Bishop or his son Robert being ac- 
companied by the English version ; but the modern 
translations have been omitted. 

The Hebrew citations have been carefully pointed 
The quotations from the Greek Fathers were generally 
selected by the Author from Latin translations : in 
those cases where it seemed desirable the words of the 
original writer are supplied. 

The spelling throughout has been modernized, except 
only occasionally in the poetical passages, in which, for 
obvious reasons, it has been left undisturbed. 

The last volume will be found to contain a few 
Letters of the Bishop, which have been obtained from 
Tanners Collection of MSS. in the Bodleian, or from 

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the Office of Public Records, in addition to an inter- 
esting Latin Letter from the Author to Hammond, 
from Fulman's Collection of MSS. in the Library of 
Corpus Christi College, for which he is indebted to the 
kindness of the President of that Society. It is be- 
lieved that the greater portion of these Letters have not 
before appeared in print ; and if it be thought that 
their contents are in themselves of little value, the 
Editor will hardly incur censure for bringing together 
under the eye of the public everything that could be 
satisfactorily proved to have been written by the 
Bishop, as tending to illustrate his character. 

It may perhaps be doubted whether the six letters 
which close the volume ought to be reprinted. They 
are to be found in Prynne's account of the trial of 
Archbishop Laud, appended to the " Breviate" of his 
Life ; and as we know that that bigoted partisan did 
not scruple to garble the Archbishop's diary, it may 
be that these letters also have suffered from passing 
through his hands. They are nevertheless added, in 
order that all that Bishop Hall is known to have 
written should be brought together in one Collection. 

It may be proper to remark, that in Mr. P. Halls 
edition was included a " Form of Penance and Re- 
conciliation " &c. agreed upon, as it is stated, between 
Archbishop Laud and our Author, then Bishop of 
Exeter. Some little doubt is expressed as to the 
share which the latter may have had in it ; and as 
no authority is given for assigning the whole work 
or any particular portion of it to him, it has been 
thought right to omit it altogether from the present 

Two other omissions from the last two editions ought 
to be noticed ; the one, of what is termed a Glossarial, 
the other, a Scriptural Index. The latter appears to 

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be an unnecessary addition to the bulk of the work, 
the scriptural references being nowhere, except in the 
paraphrase upon hard texts, of an exegetical character. 

The Glossarial Index has given occasion for some 
little doubt and deliberation. That which was drawn 
up by Mr. Pratt is so overloaded with words of which 
at the present day there could be no difficulty of 
interpretation, that it was thought necessary to ex- 
punge the greater part of it. This done, so little of 
it remained that it seemed scarcely worth while to 
print it ; and the more so because many obsolete or 
unusual words are incidentally explained in the notes 
throughout the work. 

It remains fdr the Editor to offer his thanks to 
those who have been good enough to render him 
assistance in the progress of the work. He would 
especially name Magdalen, All Souls', Wadham, and 
Corpus Christi Colleges, as having accommodated him 
with the loan of one or more of the Bishop's works. 
A similar kindness he has to acknowledge from the 
Rev. T. P. Pantin, M. A. Rector of Westcote, Glou- 
cestershire. But to the Rev. W. D. Macray, of the Bod- 
leian, he is more particularly indebted, for the essential 
aid he has rendered in the verification of references ; 
and particularly in collating a MS. of Bishop Overall's 
in the Library of Corpus Christi College, frequently 
quoted by Bishop Hall in his "Via Media," which it 
is thought has never appeared in print. 

In taking leave of the work which has occupied him 
so long, the Editor contents himself with expressing 
a wish that the task had fallen into abler hands, and 
a prayer that what has been done may have been done 
to the glory of God. 

March 10, 1863. P. W. 

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Contemplations upon the Principal Passages in the Holy Story. 

BookLtoXVII i— 543 


Contemplations upon the Principal Passages in the Holy Story. 

Book XVIII— XXI i— 390 

Contemplations upon the History of the New Testament. Book 

I— IV 291—698 


A Paraphrase upon the Hard Texts of the whole Divine Scrip- 
ture 1— 613 


A Paraphrase upon the Hard Texts of the whole Divine Scrip- 
ture, (continued) 1—633 


Pharisaism and Christianity 1 — 33 

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The Passion Sermon 24 — 54 


The Impress of God. Part 1 54 — 65 

Part II 65—77 

A Farewell Sermon 77 — 91 

An Holy Panegyric 91 — 117 

The Righteous Mammon 117 — 147 

The Deceit of Appearance 147 — 157 

The Great Impostor 158—173 

The Best Bargain 174—185 

The Glory of the Latter House 186—199 

The Enemies of the Cross of Christ 200—317 

The True Peacemaker 218—231 

Wickedness making a fruitful Land barren 231 — 246 


Public Thanksgiving 246 — 261 

The Defeat of Cruelty 261—273 

The Beauty and Unity of the Church 274 — 285 

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The Fashions of the World 286—299 


The Estate of a Christian 3°°— 3*3 


The Fall of Pride 3 J 3— 3*5 


Christ and Caesar 326— 336 


St. Paul's Combat, (m two Sermons) 337—3^3 


The Blessings, Sins, and Judgments of God's Vineyard 3<>4— 379 


The Christian's Crucifixion with Christ 380—393 


Christian Liberty laid forth 393—406 


Salvation from an untoward Generation 406—424 


The Hypocrite 425—445 


The Character of Man 446—465 


Abraham's Purchase and Employment of a Burying-place .... 465—486 


Divine Light and Reflections 486—499 


The Mischief of Faction, and the Remedy of it 500—518 


The Works of the Lord in Judgment and Mercy 518 — 534 

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The Women's Veil 535 — 550 


The Duty and Encouragement of drawing nigh to God 551 — 566 


The Sin and Punishment of Grieving the Holy Spirit 567 — 584 


The Sealing of the Holy Spirit to the Day of Redemption 584—597 


Christ our Passover 597—610 


The Sons of God led by the Spirit of God 611—625 


The Mourner in Sion 626 — 646 


Life a Sojourning 646—661 


Good Security 661 — 682 


Heaven upon Earth ; or, of True Peace and Tranquillity of Mind 1 — 45 

The Art of Divine Meditation 46 — 79 

A Meditation of Death, according to the former Rules 80 — 88 

Characters of Virtues and Vices 89 — 125 

Epistles, in Six Decades 126 — 313 

A Consolatory Letter to one under Censure 313 — 315 

A Letter of Answer to an unknown Complainant, concerning the 

Frequent Injecting of Temptations 316, 317 

Resolutions for Religion 318 — 323 

The Remedy of Profaneness, or the True Sight and Fear of the 

Almighty 3 a 4— 3 8 4 

Christian Moderation. — 

Book I. Of Moderation in Matter of Practice 385 — 442 

Book II. Of Moderation in Matter of Judgment 443 — 490 

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Holy Decency in the Worship of God x 491 — 502 

The Devout Soul, or Rules of Heavenly Devotion 503 — 538 

The Free Prisoner, or the Comfort of Restraint 539; — 550 

The Remedy of Discontentment 551 — 594 

The Peacemaker, laying forth the Right Way of Peace in Matters 

of Religion 595 — 664 


The Balm of Gilead, or Comforts for the Distressed, both Moral 

and Divine 1 — 1 18 

Holy Raptures, or Pathetical Meditations of the Love of Christ. . 1 19 — 161 

The Christian 162 — 177 

Satan's Fiery Darts quenched, or Temptations repelled 178 — 267 

Resolutions and Decisions of Divers Practical Cases of Conscience, 

in continual use amongst Men ; in Four Decades 268 — 414 

The Holy Order, or Fraternity of the Mourners in Sion; with 

Songs in the Night, or Cheerfulness under Affliction .... 415 — 438 

The First Century of Meditations and Vows, Divine and Moral. . 439 — 521 

Holy Observations 522 — 543 

An Holy Rapture, or a Pathetical Meditation of the Love of 

Can** 544—559 

Select Thoughts, or Choice Helps for a Pious Spirit 560—631 

Supernumeraries 632—638 


The Breathings of the Devout Soul 1 — 21 

Soliloquies : or Holy Self-Conferences of the Devout Soul 22 — 93 

The Soul's Farewell to Earth, and Approaches to Heaven .... 94 — 114 

The Great Mystery of Godliness 115 — 137 

The Invisible World discovered to Spiritual Eyes 138 — 218 

A Brief Sum of the Principles of Religion 219 — 221 

Solomon's Divine Arts of, 1. Ethics, 2. Politics, 3. Economics. . 222 

Solomon's Ethics or Morals 223 — 271 

Episcopal Admonition 272 

A Short Answer to those Nine Arguments which are brought 

against the Bishops sitting in Parliament 273 — 276 

A Speech in Parliament 276 — 278 

A Speech in Parliament in Defence of the Canons made in 

Convocation 278—281 

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A Speech in Parliament concerning the Power of Bishops in Page 

Secular Things 281 — 284 

A Letter sent to a Gentleman concerning Slanderous Reports . . 285 — 287 

An Apologetical Letter to a Person of Quality 288 — 292 

The Revelation Unrevealed : concerning the Thousand Years* 

Reign of the Saints with Christ upon Earth 293 — 350 

The Peace of Rome, whereto is prefixed a Serious Dissuasive 

from Popery 351 — 479 

The Honour of the Married Clergy maintained 480 — 630 

The Old Religion 631—718 

The Reconciler, with an Apologetical Advertisement to the 

Reader 719 — 757 

Certain Catholic Propositions 758 — 762 

A Letter Paraenetical to a worthy Knight ready to revolt from 

the Religion established 763 — 767 

A Plain and Familiar Explication of Christ's Presence in the 

Sacrament of His Body and Blood, out of the Doctrine of the 

Church of England 768—776 


A Common Apology against the Brownists 1 — 1 16 

Letter to Mr. W. Struthers 117— 127 

Letter for the Observation of Christ's Nativity 128—137 

Certain Irrefragable Propositions 138 — 141 

Episcopacy by Divine Right 142 — 281 

An Humble Remonstrance for Liturgy and Episcopacy 282 — 296 

Defence of the Humble Remonstrance 297 — 371 

Scultetus on Episcopacy 372 — 379 

Scultetus on Lay Elders 380—384 

Answer to Smectymnuus's Vindication 385 — 443 

A Modest Offer 444—455 

Imposition of Hands 45*> — 4&4 

For Episcopacy and Liturgy 485 — 487 

Via Media 488—519 

Letter concerning Falling away from Grace 520 — 524 

Quo Vadis? A just Censure of Travel 535— 5 6a 

Virgidemiarum 563 — 680 

Some Few of David's Psalms Metaphrased 681 — 697 

Anthems 698—700 

Miscellaneous Poems 701 — 710 

Epitaph on Mr. H. Bright 711 

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Colnmba Nose, with a Translation 1—44 

Meditatiunculae Subitanea? eque re oata suborta?, with a Trans- 
lation 45 — 187 

Josephi Exoniensis Henochismns : Tractatos de modo ambu- 

landi com Deo 188—207 

Archiepiscopo Spalatensi Epistola 208 — 214 

Inurbanitati Pontificiae Responsio Josephi Exoniensis, with a 

Translation 215—234 

Epistola Tres : Haec, ad D. Baltasarem Willium ; ^ 

Altera, ad D. Ludovicum Crocium ; I 235 — 252 

Tertia, ad D. Hermannum Hildebrandum. . . . J 

Concio coram Synodo Dordrechtana, A. D. 16 18 253 — 261 

De Pace inter Evangelicos procuranda 262 — 270 

Pax Tenia 271 — 291 

Roma Irreconciliabilis, with a Translation 292 — 397 

Mundus Alter et Idem 399 — 498 

Miscellaneous Papers and Letters 499 — 544 

General Index » 545—591 


The notes to " The Peace of Rome/' in Vol. viil marked A, were furnished to 
the lata Editor, Mr. Peter Hall, by the Rev. Josiah Allport, translator of Bishop 
Darenant's treatise on Justification. 

VOL. 1. 

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Not out of a vain affectation of my own glory, which I 
know how little it can avail me when I am gone hence, but 
out of a sincere desire to give glory to my God, whose won- 
derful providence I have noted in all my ways, have I recorded 
some remarkable passages of my fore-past life. What I have 
done is worthy of nothing but silence and forgetfulness ; but 
what God hath done for me is worthy of everlasting and 
thankful memory. 

I was born Julii 1, 1574, at five of the clook in the morning, in 
Bristow Park, within the parish of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, a town in 
Leicestershire, of honest and well-allowed parentage. 

My father was an officer under that truly honourable and reli- 
gious Henry Earl of Huntingdon 8 , President of the north ; and 

» [Henry, third Earl of Huntingdon, by Lodge. The following account of 
appointed President of the North 1572 ; the origin of the office is given in Ba- 
ched 14 Dec. 1595. See Talbot Papers ker's Chronicle, Lond. 1684. p. 35 a ;— 


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under him had the government of that market-town wherein the 
chief seat of that earldom is placed. 

My mother Winifride, of the house of the Bambridges, was * 
woman of that rare sanctity, that, were it not for my interest in 
nature, I durst say that neither Aleth b , the mother of that just 
honour of Clareval, nor Monica, nor any other of those pious 
matrons anciently famous for devotion, need to disdain her ad- 
mittance to comparison. She was continually exercised with the 
affliction of a weak body, and oft of a wounded spirit, the agonies 
whereof, as she would oft recount with much passion, professing 
that the greatest bodily sicknesses were but fle*-bites to those 
scorpions ; so from them all at last she found an happy and com- 
fortable deliverance. And that not without a more than ordinary 
band of God : for on a time, being in great distress of conscience, 
she thought in her dream there stood by her a grave personage 
in the gown and other habits of a physician; who, inquiring of 
her estate, and receiving a sad and querulous answer from her, 
took her by the hand and bade her be of good comfort, for this 
should be the last fit that ever she should feel of this kind: 
whereto she seemed to answer, that upon that condition she 
could well be content for the time with that or any other torment: 
reply was made to her, as she thought, with a redoubled assurance 
of that happy issue of this her last trial ; whereat she began to 
conceive an unspeakable joy; which yet upon her awaking left 
her more disconsolate, as then conceiting her happiness imaginary, 

" It will be fit here to say something he sent down a peculiar seal to be used 
of this place of government in the in these cases ; and calling home the 
north ; which from small beginnings is Duke, committed the same to Tunstall 
now become so eminent as it is at this Bishop of Durham, and constituted as- 
day ; whereof this was the original : sistants, with authority to hear and de- 
Whenas in the reign of Henry VIII. termine the complaints of the poor ; 
after that the rebellion in the northern and he was the first that was called 
parte about the subversion of abbeys President : and from that time the 
was quieted, the Duke of Norfolk tar- authority of his successors grew in 
ried in those quarters, and many com- credit."] 

plaints of injuries done were tendered b [Aleth, according to Guillelmus ; 

unto him, whereof some he composed Aalaidis, according to Alanus ; — Vit. 

himself, and others he commended un- St. Bernardi ; Monica, mother of St. 

der his seal to men of wisdom to deter- Augustine.] 
mine. Hereof when K. Henry heard, 

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her misery real : when, the very same day, she was visited by the 
reverend and (in his time) famous divine, Mr. Anthony Gilby c , 
under whose ministry she lived; who, upon the relation of this 
her pleasing vision and the contrary effects it had in her, began 
to persuade her that dream was no other than divine, and that 
she had good reason to think that gracious premonition was sent 
her from God himself; who, though ordinarily he keeps the com- 
mon road of his proceedings, yet sometimes, in the distresses of 
his servants, he goes unusual ways to their relief: hereupon she 
began to take heart ; and by good counsel and her fervent 
prayer found that happy prediction verified to her; and upon 
all occasions in the remainder of her life was ready to magnify 
the mercy of her God in so sensible a deliverance. What with 
the trial of both these hands of God, so had she profited in the 
school of Christ that it was bard for any friend to come from her 
discourse no whit holier. How often have I blessed the memory 
of those divine passages of experimental divinity which I have 
heard from her mouth ! What day did she pass without a large 
task of private devotion ? whence she would still come forth, with 
a countenance of undissembled mortification. Never any lips have 
read to me such feeling lectures of piety ; neither have I known 
any soul that more accurately practised them than her own. 
Temptations, desertions, and spiritual comforts, were her usual 
theme. Shortly, for I can hardly take off my pen from so exem- 
plary a subject, her life and death were saint-like. 

My parents had from mine infancy devoted me to this sacred 
calling, whereto by the blessing of God I have seasonably at- 
tained. For this cause I was trained up in the public school of 
the place. 

After I had spent some years not altogether indiligently under 
the ferule of such masters as the place afforded, and had near 
attained to some competent ripeness for the university, my school- 
master, being a great admirer of one Mr. Pelset, who was then 
lately come from Cambridge to be the public preacher of Leicester, 

* A pious and learned divine, vicar several of the most valuable of the 
of Ashby-de-la-Zoach. He translated treatises of Theodore Beza. — H. 

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(a man very eminent in those times for the fame of his learning, 
but especially for his sacred oratory,) persuaded my father, that 
if I might hare my education under so excellent and complete a 
divine, it might be both a nearer and easier way to his purposed 
end than by an academical institution. The motion sounded well 
in my father's ears, and carried fair probabilities: neither was 
it other than fore-compacted betwixt my schoolmaster and 
Mr. Pelset : so as on both sides it was entertained with great 

The gentleman, upon essay taken of my fitness for the use of 
his studies, undertakes within one seven years to send me forth, 
no less furnished with arts, languages, and grounds of theorical 
divinity, than the carefullest tutor in the strictest college of 
either university. Which that he might assuredly perform, to 
prevent the danger of any mutable thoughts in my parents or 
myself, he desired mutual bonds to be drawn betwixt us. The 
great charge of my father, whom it pleased God to bless with 
twelve children, made him the more apt to yield to so likely a 
project for a younger son. 

There and now were all the hopes of my future life upon blast- 
ing. The indentures were preparing : the time was set : my suits 
were addressed for the journey. 

What was the issue ? God, thy providence made and found 
it. Thou knowest how sincerely and heartily in those my young 
years d I did cast myself upon thy hands; with what faithful 
resolution I did in this particular occasion resign myself over to 
thy disposition, earnestly begging of thee in my fervent prayers 
to order all things to the best, and confidently waiting upon thy 
will for the event. Certainly never did I in all my life more 
clearly roll myself upon thy divine providence than I did in this 
business. And it succeeded accordingly. 

It fell out at this time that my elder brother, having some ocr 
casions to journey unto Cambridge, was kindly entertained there 
by Mr. Nath. Gilby, fellow of Emanuel college ; who, for that 
he was born in the same town with me, and had conceived some 
good opinion of my aptness to learning, inquired diligently con- 

d Anno aetatis 15. 

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earning me ; and hearing of the diversion of my father's par- 
poses from the university, importunately dissuaded from that new 
course, professing to pity the loss of so good hopes. My brother, 
partly moved with his words, and partly won by his own eyes 
to a great love and reverence of an academical life, returning 
home, fell upon his knees to my father ; and, after the report of 
Mr. Gilby's words and his own admiration of the place, earnestly 
besought him that he would be pleased to alter that so prejudicial 
a resolution, that he would not suffer my hopes to be drowned 
in a shallow country channel, but that he would revive his first 
purposes for Cambridge ; adding, in the zeal of his love, that 
if the chargeableness of that course were the hinderance, he did 
there humbly beseech him rather to sell some part of that land 
which himself should in course of nature inherit, than to abridge 
me of that happy means to perfect my education. No sooner had 
he spoken those words than my father no less passionately con- 
descended, not without a vehement protestation that, whatsoever 
it might cost him, I should, God willing, be sent to the university. 
Neither were those words sooner out of his lips than there was a 
messenger from Mr. Pelset knocking at the door to call me to that 
fairer bondage, signifying that the next day he expected me, with 
a full dispatch of all that business: to whom my father replied, 
that he came some minutes too late ; that he had now otherwise 
determined of me ; and with a respective message of thanks 
to the master sent the man home empty, leaving me full of the 
tears of joy for so happy a change. 

Indeed I had been but lost if that project had succeeded ; as 
it well appeared in the experience of him who succeeded in that 
room which was by me thus unexpectedly forsaken. 

God, how was I then taken up with a thankful acknow- 
ledgment and joyful admiration of thy gracious providence over 

And now I lived in the expectation of Cambridge; whither 
ere long I happily came under Mr. Gilby's tuition, together 
with my worthy friend Mr. Hugh Cholmley, who, as we had 
been partners of one lesson from our cradles, so were we now for 
many years partners of one bed. 

My two first years were necessarily chargeable above the pro- 

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portion of my father's power ; whose not very large cistern was 
to feed many pipes besides mine. His weariness of expense was 
wrought upon by the counsel of some unwise friends, who per- 
suaded him to fasten me upon that school as master, whereof I 
was lately a scholar. 

Now was I fetched home, with an heavy heart : and now this 
second time had mine hopes been nipped in the blossom, had 
not God raised me up an unhoped benefactor, Mr. Edmund Sleigh 
of Derby, (whose pious memory I have cause ever to love and 
reverence,) out of no other relation to me, save that he married 
my aunt. Pitying my too apparent dejectedness, he voluntarily 
urged and solicited my father for my return to the university ; 
and offered freely to contribute the one half of my maintenance 
there, till I should attain to the degree of Master of Arts ; which 
he no less really and lovingly performed. The condition was 
gladly accepted. 

Thither was I sent back, with joy enough ; and ere long chosen 
scholar of that strict and well ordered college. 

By that time I had spent six years there, now the third year 
of my bachelorship should at once both make an end of my main- 
tenance, and in respect of standing give me a capacity of further 
preferment in that house, were it not that my country excluded 
me : for our statute allowed but one of a shire to be fellow there ; 
and my tutor, being of the same town with me, must therefore 
necessarily hold me out. 

But, my God, how strangely did thy gracious providence 
fetch this business about I I was now entertaining motions of 

A place was offered me in the island of Guernsey, which I had 
in speech and chase. It fell out that the father of my loving 
chamber-fellow, Mr. Cholmley, a gentleman that had likewise 
dependence upon the most noble Henry Earl of Huntingdon, 
having occasion to go to York unto that his honourable lord, 
fell into some mention of me. That good earl, who well esteemed 
my father's service, having belikely heard some better words of 
me than I could deserve, made earnest inquiry after me, what 
were my courses, what my hopes : and hearing of tho likelihood 
of my removal, professed much dislike of it ; not without some 

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vehemence demanding why I was not chosen fellow of that 
college, wherein by report I received such approbation. Answer 
was returned, that my country debarred me ; which, being filled 
with my tutor, whom his lordship well knew, could not by the 
statute admit a second. The earl presently replied, that if that 
were the hinderance he would soon take order to remove it. 
Whereupon his lordship presently sends for my tutor Mr. Gilby 
unto York, and with proffer of large conditions of the chaplainship 
in his house, and Assured promises of better provisions, drew him 
to relinquish his place in the college to a free election. No 
sooner was his assent signified, than the days were set for the 
public (and indeed exquisite) examination of the competitors. 
By that time two days of the three allotted to this trial were 
past, certain news came to us of the inexpected death of that 
incomparably religious and noble Earl of Huntingdon ; by whose 
loss my then disappointed tutor must necessarily be left to the 
wide world unprovided for. Upon notice thereof I presently 
repaired to the master of the college, Mr. Dr. Chaderton c , and 
besought him to tender that hard condition to which my good 
tutor must needs be driven if the election proceeded ; to stay any 
further progress in that business ; and to leave me to my own 
good hopes wheresoever, whose youth exposed me both to less 
needs and more opportunities of provision. Answer was made 
me that the place was pronounced void however ; and therefore . 
that my tutor was divested of all possibility of remedy, and must 
wait upon the providence of God for his disposing elsewhere, and 
the election must necessarily proceed the day following. Then 
was I with a cheerful unaminity chosen into that society ; which 
if it had any equals I dare say had none beyond it, for good 
order, studious carriage, strict government, austere piety; in 
which I spent six or seven years more, with such contentment as 
the rest of my life hath in vain striven to yield. 

Now was I called to public disputations often, with no ill 
success ; for never durst I appear in any of those exercises of 
scholarship till I had from my knees looked up to heaven for a 

e He was the first Master of Emmanuel College ; lecturer at St. Clement's, 
Cambridge ; and one of the translators of the Bible. — Jones. 

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blessing, and renewed my actual dependence upon that Divine 

In this while, two years together was I chosen to the rhetoric 
lecture in the public schools ; where I was encouraged with a 
sufficient frequence of auditors : but finding that well-applauded 
work somewhat out of my way, not without a secret blame of 
myself for so much excursion, I fairly gave up that task, in the 
midst of those poor acclamations, to a worthy successor, Mr. Dr. 
Dod, and betook myself to those serious studies which might fit 
me for that high calling whereunto I was destined. 

Wherein after I had carefully bestowed myself for a time, I 
took the boldness to enter into sacred orders : the honour whereof 
haying once attained, I was no niggard of that talent which 
my God had entrusted to me ; preaching often, as occasion was 
offered, both in country villages abroad, and at home in the most 
awful auditory of the university. 

And now f I did but wait where and how it would please my 
Ood to employ me. 

There was at that time a famous school erected at Tiverton in 
Devon, and endowed with a very large pension; whose goodly 
fabric was answerable to the reported maintenance: the care 
whereof was, by the rich and bountiful founder, Mr. Blundel, 
cast principally upon the then lord chief justice Popham. That 
faithful observer, having great interest in the master of our house, 
Dr. Chaderton, moved him earnestly to commend some able, 
learned, and discreet governor to that weighty charge; whose 
action would not need to be so much as his oversight. It pleased 
our master, out of his good opinion, to tender this condition unto 
me ; assuring me of no small advantages and no great toil, since 
it was intended the main load of the work should lie upon other 
shoulders. I apprehended the motion worth the entertaining. 
In that severe society our times were stinted ; neither was it 
wise or safe to refuse good offers. Mr. Dr. Chaderton carried 
me to London, and there presented me to the lord chief justice, 
with much testimony of approbation. The judge seemed well 
apaid with the choice. I promised acceptance, he the strength 
of his favour. No sooner had I parted from the judge, than in 

f He had resided at college, on the whole, about thirteen years. — Jonis. 

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the street a messenger presented me with a letter from the right 
virtuous and worthy lady of dear and happy memory, the Lady 
Drury of Suffolk, tendering the rectory of her Halsted, then 
newly void, and very earnestly desiring me to accept of it. Dr. 
Chaderton, observing in me some change of countenance, asked 
me what the matter might be. I told him the errand, and 
delivered him the letter, beseeching his advice ; which when he 
had read, ** Sir," quoth I, " methinks God pulls me by the sleeve, 
and tells me it is his will I should rather go to the east than 
to the west." " Nay/' he answered, " I should rather think 
that God would have you go westward, for that he hath con- 
trived your engagement before the tender of this letter ; which 
therefore coming too late, may receive a fair and easy answer." 
To this I besought him to pardon my dissent ; adding that I 
well knew that divinity was the end whereto I was destined 
by my parents ; which I had so constantly proposed to myself 
that I never meant other than to pass through this western 
school to it : but I saw that God, who found me ready to go 
the farther way about, now called me the nearest and directest 
♦way to that sacred end. The good man could no further oppose, 
but only pleaded the distaste which would hereupon be justly 
taken by the lord chief justice, whom I undertook fully to satisfy; 
which I did with no great difficulty ; commending to his lordship, 
in my room, my old friend and chamber-fellow Mr. Oholmley : 
who, finding an answerable acceptance, disposed himself to the 
place ; so as we two, who came together to the university, now 
must leave it at once. 

Having then fixed my foot at Halsted*, I found there a dan- 
gerous opposite to the success of my ministry, a witty and bold 
atheist, one Mr. Lilly h ; who by reason of his travels and abi- 
lities of discourse and behaviour had so deeply insinuated himself 
into my patron, Sir Robert Drury, that there was small hopes 
during his entireness for me to work any good upon that noble 
patron of mine ; who by the suggestion of this wicked detractor 
was set off from me before he knew me. Hereupon, I confess, 

e He was presented in 1 6oi.—Joinss. of Wit," "Euphuea and his England, w 
h Probably John Lilly, the drama- &c. — Jones. 
twt, author of "Euphuea, the Anatomy 

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finding the obduredness and hopeless condition of that man, I 
bent my prayers against him ; beseeching God daily that he 
would be pleased to remove, by some means or other, that ap- 
parent hinderance of my faithful labours : who gave me an 
answer accordingly ; for this malicious man, going hastily up to 
London to exasperate my patron against me, was then and there 
swept away by the pestilence, and never returned to do any fur- 
ther mischief. Now the coast was clear before me ; and I gained 
every day of the good opinion and favourable respects of that 
honourable gentleman and my worthy neighbours. 

Being now therefore settled in that sweet and civil country of 
Suffolk, near to St. Edmund's-Bury, my first work was to build 
up my house, which was then extremely ruinous. 

Which done, the uncouth solitariness of my life and the ex- 
treme incommodity of that single housekeeping drew my thoughts, 
after two years, to condescend to the necessity of a married 
estate ; which God no less strangely provided for me ; for, walk- 
ing from the church on Monday in the Witsun-week, with a grave 
and reverend minister, Mr. Grandidge, I saw a comely and modest 
gentlewoman standing at the door of that house where we were 
invited to a wedding dinner ; and inquiring of that worthy friend 
whether he knew her, " Yes," quoth he, " I know her well, and 
have bespoken her for your wife." When I further demanded 
an account of that answer, he told me she was the daughter of a 
gentleman whom he much respected, Mr. George Winniff of Bre- 
tenham ; that out of an opinion had of the fitness of that match 
for me he had already treated with her father about it, whom he 
found very apt to entertain it; advising me not to neglect the 
opportunity, and not concealing the just praises of the modesty, 
piety, good disposition, and other virtues, that were lodged in 
that seemly presence. I listened to the motion as sent from God ; 
and at last upon due prosecution happily prevailed; enjoying 
the comfortable society of that meet help for the space of forty- 
nine years. 

I had not passed two years in this estate when my noble friend, 
Sir Edmund Bacon, with whom I had much entireness, came to 
me, and earnestly solicited me for my company in a journey by 
him projected to the Spa in Ardenna; laying before me the 

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safety, the easiness, the pleasure, and the benefit of that small 
extravagance, if opportunity were taken of that time when the 
Earl of Hertford passed in embassy to the Archduke Albert of 
Brussels. I soon yielded, as for the reasons by him urged, so 
especially for the great desire I had to inform myself ocularly 
of the state and practice of the Romish church, the knowledge 
whereof might be of no small use to me in my holy station. 

Having therefore taken careful order for the supply of my 
charge, with the assent and good allowance of my nearest friends 
I entered into this secret voyage. 

We waited some days M Harwich for a wind, which we hoped 
might waft us oyer to Dunkirk, where our ambassador had lately 
landed : but at last, haying spent a day and half a night at sea, 
we were forced, for want of favour from the wind, to put in at 
Queenborough ; from whence coasting oyer the rich and pleasant 
country of Kent, we renewed our shipping at Dover, and, soon 
landing at Calais, we passed after two days by wagon to the 
strong towns of Qravelines and Dunkirk ; where I could not but 
find much horror in myself to pass under those dark and dreadful 
prisons, where so many brave Englishmen had breathed out their 
souls in a miserable captivity. From thence we passed through 
Winnoxberg, Ypres, Ghent, Courtray, to Brussels, where the 
ambassador had newly sat down before us. 

That noble gentleman in whose company I travelled was wel- 
comed with many kind visitations. Amongst the rest there came 
to him an English gentleman, who, having run himself out of 
breath in the inns of court, had forsaken his country, and there- 
with his religion, and was turned both bigot and physician, 
residing now in Brussels. This man, after few interchanges of 
compliment with Sir Edmund Bacon, fell into a hyperbolical pre- 
dication of the wonderful miracles done newly by our Lady at 
Zichem or Sherpen-Heavell, that is Sharp Hill, by Lipsius Apri- 
oollis ; the credit whereof when that worthy knight wittily ques- 
tioned, he avowed a particular miracle of cure wrought by her 
upon himself. I, coming into the room in the midst of this dis- 
course, habited not like a divine but in such colour and fashion 
as might best secure my travel, and hearing my countryman's 
zealous and confident relations, at last asked him this question ; 

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"Sir," quoth I, "put case this report of yours be granted for 
true; I beseech you teach me what difference there is betwixt 
these miracles which you say are wrought by this lady, and those 
which were wrought by Vespasian, by some vestals by charms 
and spells ; the rather for that I have noted, in the late published 
report of these miracles, some patients prescribed to come upon a 
Friday, and some to wash in such a well before their approach, 
and divers other such charmlike observations." The gentleman, 
not expecting such a question from me, answered, " Sir, I do not 
profess this kind of scholarship ; but we have in the city many 
famous divines, with whom if it would please you to confer, you 
might sooner receive satisfaction." I asked him whom he took 
for the most eminent divine of that place. He named to me 
father Coster us 1 ; undertaking that he would be very glad to 
give me conference, if I would be pleased to come up to the 
Jesuits' college. I willingly yielded. In the afternoon, the for- 
ward gentleman prevented his time to attend me to the father, as 
he styled him ; who, as he said, was ready to entertain me with 
a meeting. I went alone up with him. The porter, shutting the 
door after me, welcomed me with a Deo gratias. I had not staid 
long in the Jesuits 1 hall before Oosterus came in to me ; who after 
a friendly salutation fell into a formal speech of the unity of that 
church, out of which is no salvation ; and had proceeded to lose 
his breath and labour, had not I as civilly as I might interrupted 
him with this short answer ; " Sir, I beseech you mistake me not 
My nation tells you of what religion I am. I come not hither 
out of any doubt of my professed belief, or any purpose to change 
it ; but moving a question to this gentleman concerning the pre- 
tended miracles of the time, he pleased to refer me to yourself 
for my answer ; which motion of his I was the more willing to 
embrace, for the fame I have heard of your learning and worth ; 
and if you can give me satisfaction herein I am ready to receive 
it." Hereupon we settled to our places at a table in the end of 
the hall, and buckled to a further discourse. He fell into a poor 
and unperfect account of the difference of divine miracles and 
diabolical; which I modestly refuted. From thence he slipped 

* [This was probably Francis Coster of works) Enchiridion Proecip. Controver. 
Malines, author of (among many other siarum nostri Temporis.] 

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into a choleric invective against our church, which as he said 
could not yield one miracle ; and when I answered, that in our 
church we had manifest proofs of the ejection of devils by fasting 
and prayer, he answered, that if it could be proved that ever any 
devil was dispossessed in our church he would quit his religion. 
Many questions were incidentally traversed by us; wherein I 
found no satisfaction given me. The conference was long and 
vehement ; in the heat whereof who should come in but father 
Baldwin, an English Jesuit, known to me, as by face (after I came 
to Brussels) so much more by fame. He sat down upon a bench 
at the farther end of the table, and heard no small part of our 
dissertation ; seeming not too well apaid, that a gentleman of his 
nation (for still I was spoken to in that habit, by the style of 
Dominatio vestra,) should depart from the Jesuits' college no 
better satisfied. On the next morning therefore he sends the 
same English physician to my lodging with a courteous compella- 
tion ; professing to take it unkindly that his countryman should 
make choice of any other to confer with than himself, who desired 
both mine acquaintance and full satisfaction. Sir Edmund Bacon, 
in whose hearing the message was delivered, gave me secret signs 
of his utter unwillingness to give way to my further conferences ; 
the issue whereof, since we were to pass farther and beyond the 
bounds of that protection, might prove dangerous. I returned a 
mannerly answer of thanks to F. Baldwin ; but for any further 
conference that it were bootless. I could not hope to convert 
him, and was resolved he should not alter me ; and therefore both 
of us should rest where we were. 

Departing from Brussels we were for Namur and Liege. In 
the way we found the good hand of God, in delivering us from 
the danger of freebooters, and of a nightly entrance amidst a 
suspicious convoy into that bloody city. 

Thence we came to the Spadane Waters, where I had good 
leisure to add a second century of meditations to those I had 
published before my journey. 

After we had spent a just time at those medicinal wells we 
returned to Liege ; and in our passage up the river Mosa k I had 
a dangerous conflict with a Sorbonist, a prior of the Carmelites, 

* [The Mcuae.] 

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who took occasion by our kneeling at the receipt of the eucharist 
to persuade all the company of our acknowledgment of a transub- 
stantiation. I satisfied the cavil, showing upon what ground this 
meet posture obtained with us. The man grew furious upon his 
conviction ; and his vehement associates began to join with him 
in a rightdown railing upon our church and religion. I told them 
they knew where they were : for me, I had taken notice of the 
security of their laws, inhibiting any argument held against their 
religion established, and therefore stood only upon my defence ; 
not casting any aspersions upon theirs, but ready to maintain our 
own ; which though I performed in as fair terms as I might, yet 
the choler of those zealots was so moved, that the paleness of 
their changed countenances began to threaten some perilous issue, 
had not Sir Edmund Bacon, both by his eye and by his tongue, 
wisely taken me off. I subduced myself speedily from their pre- 
sence, to avoid further provocation. The prior began to bewray 
some suspicions of my borrowed habit, and told them that himself 
had a green satin suit once prepared for his travels into England ; 
so as I found it needful for me to lie close at Namur. 

From whence travelling the next day towards Brussels in the 
company of two Italian captains, Signior Ascanio Nigro, and 
another whose name I have forgotten ; who, enquiring into our 
nation and religion, wondered to hear that we had any baptism 
or churches in England ; the congruity of my Latin, in respect of 
their perfect barbarism, drew me and the rest into their suspicion ; 
so as I might overhear them muttering to each other that we 
were not the men we appeared. Straight the one of them boldly 
expressed his conceit; and together with this charge began to 
inquire of our condition. I told him that the gentleman he saw 
before us was the grandchild of that renowned Bacon, the great 
chancellor of England, a man of great birth and quality; and that 
myself and my other companion travelled in his attendance to the 
Spa, from the train and under the privilege of our late ambas- 
sador ; with which just answer I stopped their mouths. 

Returning through Brussels we came down to Antwerp, the 
paragon of cities ; where my curiosity to see a solemn procession 
on St. John Baptist's day might have drawn me into danger 
through my willing unreverence, had not the hulk of a tall Bra- 

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banter, behind whom I stood in a corner of the street, shadowed 
me from notice. 

Thence, down the fair river of Scheldt, we came to Flushing ; 
where, upon the resolution of our company to stay some hours, I 
hasted to Middleburgh to see an ancient colleague. That visit 
lost me my passage. Ere I could return I might see our ship 
under sail for England. The master had with the wind altered 
his purpose, and called aboard with such eagerness that my 
company must either away or undergo the hazard of too much 
loss. I looked long after them in vain, and sadly returning to 
Middleburgh waited long for an inconvenient and tempestuous 

After some year and half, it pleased God inezpectedly to con- 
trive the change of my station. 

My means were but short at Halsted ; yet such, as I oft pro- 
fessed, if my then patron would have added but one ten pounds 
by year, which I held to be the value of my detained due, I 
should never have removed. One morning as I lay in my bed, a 
strong motion was suddenly glanced into my thoughts of going to 
London. I arose and betook me to the way. The ground that 
appeared of that purpose was to speak with my patron Sir Robert 
Drury, if by occasion of the public preachership of St. EdraundV 
Bury, then offered me upon good conditions, I might draw him 
to a willing yieldance of that parcel of my due maintenance which 
was kept back from my not over deserving predecessor; who, 
hearing my errand, dissuaded me from so ungainful a change, 
which, had it been to my sensible advantage, he should have readily 
given way unto ; but not offering me the expected encouragement 
of my continuance k . 

With him I stayed, and preached on the Sunday following. 
That day Sir Robert Drury, meeting with the Lord Denny, fell 
belike into the commendation of my sermon. That religious and 
noble lord had long harboured good thoughts concerning me, 
upon the reading of those poor pamphlets which I had formerly 

k Sir John Cullum in his history of his time there are not above two years 

Hawstead observes — ' I conjecture he in the Register of the same hand.' — H. 
did not much reside here; for during 


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published, and long wished the opportunity to know me. To 
please him in his desire, Sir Robert willed me to go and tender 
my service to his lordship ; which I modestly and seriously depre- 
cated : yet upon his earnest charge went to his lordship's gate, 
where I was not sorry to hear of his absence. 

And being now full of cold and distemper in Drury-lane 1 , 1 was 
found out by a friend, in whom I had formerly no great interest, 
one Mr. Gurrey, tutor to the Earl of Essex. He told me how 
well my Meditations were accepted at the prince's court™, and 
earnestly advised me to step over to Richmond, and preach to his 
highness. I strongly pleaded my indisposition of body, and my 
inpreparation for any such work, together with my bashful fears, 
and utter unfitness for such a presence. My averseness doubled 
his importunity ; in fine, he left me not till he had my engage- 
ment to preach the Sunday following at Richmond. He made 
way for me to that awful pulpit, and encouraged me by the favour 
of his noble lord, the Earl of Essex. I preached. Through the 
favour of my God that sermon was not so well given as taken ; 
insomuch as that sweet prince signified his desire to hear me 
again the Tuesday following. Which done, that labour gave more 
contentment than the former, so as that gracious prince both gave 
me his hand and commanded me to his service. 

My patron, seeing me upon my return to London looked after 
by some great persons, began to wish me at home, and told me 
that some or other would be snatching me up. I answered that 
it was in his power to prevent : would he be pleased to make my 
maintenance but so competent as in right it should be, I would 
never stir from him. Instead of condescending, it pleased him to 
fall into an expostulation of the rate of competencies ; affirming 
the variableness thereof, according to our own estimation, and our 
either raising or moderating the causes of our expenses. I showed 
him the insufficiency of my means; that I was forced to write 
books to buy books. Shortly, some harsh and unpleasing answer 

i Drury Place, the residence of the famous for the conquest of Creutznach 

family denoted by that name, stood in 1632, it was repaired and enlarged 

near the spot now occupied by the under the title of Craven House.— H. 
Olympic theatre. Becoming after- m Prince Henry, 
wards the property of Lord Craven, 

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so disheartened me that I resolved to embrace the first oppor- 
tunity of remove. 

Now while I was taken up with these anxious thoughts, a 
messenger (it was Sir Robert Wingfield of Northampton's son) 
came to me from the Lord Denny, now Earl of Norwich, my after 
most honourable patron, entreating me from his lordship to speak 
with him. No sooner came I thither, than after a glad and noble 
welcome I was entertained with the earnest offer of Waltham. 
The conditions were, like the mover of them, free and bountiful. 
I received them as from the munificent hand of my God ; and 
returned, full of the cheerful acknowledgments of a gracious 
providence over me. 

Too late now did my former noble patron relent, and offer me 
those terms which had before fastened me for ever. 

I returned home, happy in a new master, and in a new patron ; 
betwixt whom I divided myself and my labours, with much com- 
fort and no less acceptation. 

In the second year of mine attendance on his highness, when I 
came for my dismission from that monthly service, it pleased 
the prince to command me a longer stay ; and at last upon mine 
allowed departure, by the mouth of Sir Thomas Challoner , his 
governor, to tender unto me a motion of more honour and favour 
than I was worthy of; which was, that it was his highness's plea- 
sure and purpose to have me continually resident at the court as 
a constant attendant, while the rest held on their wonted vicis- 
situdes : for which purpose his highness would obtain for me such 
preferments as should yield me full contentment. I returned my 
humblest thanks, and my readiness to sacrifice myself to the ser- 
vice of so gracious a master ; but, being conscious to myself of my 
unanswerableness to so great expectation, and loath to forsake so 
dear and noble a patron, who had placed much of his heart upon 
me, I did modestly put it off, and held close to my Waltham ; 
where in a constant course I preached a long time, as I had done 
also at Halsted before, thrice in the week : yet never durst I 

n ["He distinguished himself like- James to the throne of England was 
wise by his poetical talents while he appointed governor to the prince, &c." 
was a stadent at Magdalen College, — Birch's Life of Henry Prince of 
Oxford. On the accession of King Wales.] 

C 2 

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climb into the pulpit to preach any sermon, whereof I had not 
before in my poor and plain fashion penned every word, in the 
same order wherein I hoped to deliver it, although in the expres- 
sion I listed not to be a slave to syllables. 

In this while my worthy kinsman, Mr. Samuel Burton , arch- 
deacon of Gloucester, knowing in how good terms I stood at court, 
and pitying the miserable condition of his native church of Wol- 
verhampton, was very desirous to engage me in so difficult and 
noble a service as the redemption of that captivated church. For 
which cause he importuned me to move some of my friends to 
solicit the dean of Windsor, who by an ancient annexation is 
patron thereof, for the grant of a particular prebend, when it 
should fall vacant in that church. Answer was returned me that 
it was forepromised to one of my fellow chaplains. I sat down 
without further expectation. Some year or two after, hearing 
that it was become void, and meeting with that fellow chaplain of 
mine, I wished him much joy of the prebend. He asked me if it 
were void : I assured him so ; and telling him of the former answer 
delivered to me in my ignorance of his engagement, wished him 
to hasten his possession of it. He delayed not. When he came 
to the dean of Windsor for his promised dispatch, the dean brought 
him forth a letter from the prince, wherein he was desired and 
charged to reverse his former engagement, since that other chap- 
lain was otherwise provided for, and to cast that favour upon me. 
I was sent for who least thought of it, and received the free colla- 
tion of that poor dignity. It was not the value of the place, 
which was but nineteen P nobles per annum, that we aimed at; 
but the freedom of a goodly church, consisting of a dean and 
eight prebendaries competently endowed, and many thousand 
souls lamentably swallowed up by wilful recusants in a pretended 
fee-farm for ever. 

O God, what an hand hadst thou in the carriage of this work ! 

When we set foot in this suit (for another of the prebendaries 
joined with me), we knew not wherein to insist, nor where to 
ground our complaint ; only we knew that a goodly patrimony 
was by sacrilegious conveyance detained from the church. But in 

[Archdeacon 1607, died 1634.] P [The value of the noble was 69. 8<Z.] 

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the pursuit of it such marvellous light opened itself inexpectedly 
to us, in revealing of a counterfeit seal, found in the ashes of that 
burned house, of a false register ; in the manifestation of rasures 
and interpolations, and misdates of unjustifiable evidences ; that 
after many years' suit the wise and honourable lord chancellor 
Ellesmere, upon a full hearing, adjudged these two sued-for pre- 
bends clearly to be returned to the church, until by common law 
they could, if possibly, be revicted. Our great adversary, Sir 
Walter Leveson, finding it but loss and trouble to struggle for 
litigious sheaves, came off to a peaceable composition with me of 
forty pounds per annum for my part, whereof ten should be to 
the discharge of my stall in that church, till the suit should by 
course of common law be determined : we agreed upon fair wars. 
The cause was heard at the kingVbench bar : where a special 
verdict was given for us. Upon the death of my partner in the 
suit, in whose name it had now been brought, it was renewed ; 
a jury empannelled in the county : the foreman, who had vowed 
he would carry it for Sir Walter Leveson howsoever, was before 
the day stricken mad, and so continued. We proceeded with the 
same success we formerly had. While we were thus striving, a 
word fell from my adversary that gave me intimation that a third 
dog would perhaps come in, and take the bone from us both : 
which I finding to drive at a supposed concealment, happily pre- 
vented ; for I presently addressed myself to his majesty, with a 
petition for the renewing the charter of that church, and the full 
establishment of the lands, rights, liberties, thereto belonging; 
which I easily obtained from those gracious hands. Now Sir 
Walter Leveson, seeing the patrimony of the church so fast and 
safely settled, and misdoubting what issue those his crazy evi- 
dences would find at the common law, began to incline to offers of 
peace ; and at last drew him so far as that he yielded to thoso 
two main conditions, not particularly for myself, but for the whole 
body of all those prebends which pertained to the church : first, 
that he would be content to cast up that fee-farm which he had 
of all the patrimony of that church, and disclaiming it, receive 
that which he held of the said church by lease from us the several 
prebendaries, for term, whether of years, or, which he rather 
desired, of lives : secondly, that he would raise the maintenance 

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of every prebend (whereof some were bat forty shillings, others 
three pounds, others four, &c.) to the yearly value of thirty 
pounds to each man during the said term of his lease ; only, for a 
monument of my labour and success herein, 1 required that my 
prebend might have the addition of ten pounds per annum above 
the fellows. We were busily treating of this happy match for 
that poor church : Sir Walter Leveson was not only willing, but 
forward : the then dean, Mr. Antonius de Dominis, archbishop of 
Spalatroq, gave both way and furtherance to the dispatch: all 
had been most happily ended, had not the scrupulousness of one 
or two of the number deferred so advantageous a conclusion. In 
the meanwhile Sir Walter Leveson dies ; leaves his young orphan 
ward to the king : all our hopes were now blown up ; an office 
was found of all those lands ; the very wonted payments were 
denied, and I called into the court of wards, in fair likelihood to 
forego my former hold and yield possession. But there it was 
justly awarded by the lord treasurer', then master of the wards, 
that the orphan could have no more, no other right than the 
father : I was therefore left in my former state ; only, upon pub- 
lic complaint of the hard condition wherein the orphan was left, I 
suffered myself to be over entreated to abate somewhat of that 
evicted composition. Which work having once firmly settled, in 
a just pity of the mean provision, if not the destitution of so many 
thousand souls, and a desire and care to have them comfortably 
provided for in the future, I resigned up the said prebend to a 
worthy. preacher, Mr. Lee, who should constantly reside there, 
and painfully instruct that great and long neglected people; 
which he hath hithorto performed, with great mutual contentment 
and happy success. 

Now during this twenty-two years which I spent at Waltham, 
thrice was I commanded and employed abroad by his majesty in 
public service. 

First, in the attendance of the right honourable Earl of Car- 
lisle 8 , (then lord Viscount Doncaster,) who was sent upon a noble 

«l [See a letter from the Bishop to embassy was to make proposals of mar- 

him, vol. x. p. 210.] riage between Prince Charles and Chris- 

r [Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury.] tine the eldest sister of Louis XIII, as 

8 [A. D. 1615. The object of this well as to congratulate the latter on 

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embassy, with a gallant retinue into France ; whose enterment 
there the annals of that nation will tell to posterity. In the midst 
of that service was I surprised with a miserable distemper of body, 
which ended in a diarrhoea biliosa, not without some beginning 
and further threats of a dysentery ; wherewith I was brought so 
low that there seemed small hope of my recovery. M. Peter 
Moulin*, to whom I was beholding for his frequent visitations, 
being sent by my lord ambassador to inform him of my estate, 
brought him so sad news thereof as that he was much afflicted 
therewith, well supposing his welcome to Waltham could not but 
want much of the heart without me. Now the time of his return 
drew on, Dr. Moulin kindly offered to remove me, upon his lord- 
ship's departure, to his own house ; promising me all careful tend- 
ance. I thanked him, but resolved if I could but creep home- 
wards to put myself upon the journey. A litter was provided, 
but of so little ease that Simeon's penitential lodging, or a male- 
factor's stocks, had been less penal. I crawled down from my 
close chamber into that carriage : In qua videbaris mihi eferri, 
tanquam in sandapild, as Mr. Moulin wrote to me afterward. 
That misery had I endured all the long passage from Paris to 
Dieppe, being left alone to the surly muleteers, had not the pro- 
vidence of my good God brought me to St. Germain's, upon the 
very minute of the setting out of those coaches, which had staid 
there upon that morning's entertainment of my lord ambassador. 
How glad was I that I might change my seat and my company ! 
In the way, beyond all expectation I began to gather some 
strength. Whether the fresh air or the desires of my home re- 
vived me, so much and so sudden reparation ensued as was sen- 
sible to myself, and seemed strange to others. Being shipped at 
Dieppe, the sea used us hardly, and after a night and a great 
part of the day following sent us back well windbeaten to that 

his marriage. The gorgeous splendour became Professor of Philosophy at Ley- 

which the embassy displayed on its way den, and afterwards of Divinity at Se- 

through Paris to the Louvre is noticed dan. King James the First invited 

in Wilson's History of England, Lond. him to England in 1615, and gave him 

1653, p. 94.] a prebendal staU at Canterbury. — H. 

t This was the elder Molinieus, father [Both the elder and younger Peter were 

of Peter the younger, and of Louis. He Canons of Canterbury.] 
had, once studied at Cambridge, then 

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bleak haven whence we set forth, forcing us to a more pleasing 
land-passage, through the coasts of Normandy and Picardy; 
towards the end whereof my former complaint returned upon me, 
and landing with me accompanied me to and at my long-desired 
home. In this my absence it pleased his majesty graciously to 
confer upon me the deanery of Worcester 11 ; which, being pro- 
mised to me before my departure, was deeply hazarded while I 
was out of sight, by the importunity and underhand working of 
some great ones. Dr. field, the learned and worthy dean of 
Gloucester, was by his potent friends put into such assurances 
of it, that I heard where he took care for the furnishing that 
ample house. But God fetched it about for me, in that absence 
and nescience of mine ; and that reverend and better deserving 
divine was well satisfied with greater hopes, and soon after ex- 
changing this mortal estate for an immortal and glorious. 

Before I could go down, through my continuing weakness, to 
take possession of that dignity, his majesty pleased to design me 
to his attendance into Scotland, where the great love and respect 
that I found, both from the ministers and people, wrought me no 
small envy from some of our own. Upon a commonly received 
supposition that his majesty would have no further use of his 
chaplains after his remove from Edinburgh, (forasmuch as the 
divines of the country, whereof there is great store and worthy 
choice, were allotted to every station,) I easily obtained, through 
the solicitation of my ever honoured lord of Carlisle, to return 
with him before my fellows. No sooner was I gone, than sugges- 
tions were made to his majesty of my over plausible demeanour 
and doctrine to that already prejudicate people; for which his 
majesty, after a gracious acknowledgment of my good service there 
done, called me upon his return to a favourable and mild account ; 
not more freely professing what informations had been given 
against me, than his own full satisfaction with my sincere and just 
answer ; as whose excellent wisdom well saw, that such winning 
carriage of mine could be no hinderance to those his great de- 
signs. At the same time his majesty, having secret notice that 
a letter was coming to me from Mr. W. Struther, a reverend and 

u [Presented Dec. 9, 1616.] 

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learned divine of Edinburgh, concerning the five points then pro- 
posed and urged to the church of Scotland, was pleased to impose 
upon me an earnest charge to give him a full answer in satisfac- 
tion to those his modest doubts, and at large to declare my judg- 
ment concerning those required observations; which I speedily 
performed, with so great approbation of his majesty, that it 
pleased him to command a transcript thereof, as I was informed, 
publicly read in their most famous university x : the effect whereof 
his majesty vouchsafed to signify afterwards unto some of my best 
friends, with allowance beyond my hopes. 

It was not long after that his majesty, finding the exigence of 
the affairs of the Netherlandish churches to require it, both ad- 
vised them to a synodical decision, and by his incomparable wis- 
dom promoted the work. My unworthiness was named for one 
of the assistants of that honourable, grave, and reverend meeting, 
where I failed not of my best service to that wofully distracted 
churchy. By that time I had stayed some two months there, the 
unquietness of the nights in those garrison towns working upon 
the tender disposition of my body, brought me to such weakness 
through want of rest, that it began to disable me from attending 
the synod; which yet, as I might, I forced myself unto, as wishing 
that my zeal could have discountenanced my infirmity. Where in 
the meantime it is well worthy of my thankful remembrance, that 
being in an afflicted and languishing condition for a fortnight to- 
gether with that sleepless distemper, yet it pleased God, the very 
night before I was to preach the Latin sermon to the synod, to 
bestow upon me such a comfortable refreshing of sufficient sleep, 
as whereby my spirits were revived, and I was enabled with much 
vivacity to perform that service ; which was no sooner done, than 
my former complaint renewed upon me, and prevailed against all 
the remedies that the counsel of physicians could advise me unto ; 
so as after long strife I was compelled to yield unto a retirement 
for the time to the Hague, to see if change of place and more 
careful attendance, which I had in the house of our right honour- 
able ambassador, the Lord Carleton, now Viscount Dorchester, 

* [See vol. ix. p. 117.] See Acta Synodi, &c. Dordrecht. 1620, 

7 [The synod of Dort was opened p. 376.] 
Nov. 13, 1618, and closed May 9, 1619. 

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might recover me. But when notwithstanding all means my 
weakness increased so far as that there was small likelihood left of 
so much strength remaining as might bring me back into England, 
it pleased his gracious majesty, by our noble ambassador's solicita- 
tion, to call me off, and to substitute a worthy divine, Mr. Dr. 
Goade, in my unwillingly forsaken room. Returning by Dort, I 
sent in my sad farewell 2 to that grave assembly, who by common 
vote sent to me the president of the synod and the assistants, with 
a respective and gracious valediction. Neither did the deputies of 
my lords the states neglect, after a very respectful compliment 
sent from them to me by Daniel Heinsius, to visit me, and after a 

z Die Januarii 17°. A.D. 16 19. [Ful- 
ler is in error when he states (Church 
Hist. v. 5. p. 467, Brewer's ed.) that 
this address was made by Hall in per- 
son. The record of the proceedings of 
the synod coincides with the statement 
in the text : Cujus, quanquam absentis 
scriptum publico lectum est quo idem 
Doctor. Hallos luculenter sane atqne 
humanissime toti Synodo valedioebat. 
Acta Syn. Nat. Dord. Sess. 62. Jan. 17. 
Dord. 1620, p. 226.] "Non facile vero 
mecum in gratiam redierit cadaverosa 
hs3o moles, quam eagre usque circum- 
gesto, qu» mihi hujus Gonventus celebri- 
tatem toties inviderit, jamque prorsus in- 
vitissimum a vobis importune avocat et 
divellit. Neque enim ullus est profecto 
sub coelo locus a?que coeli semulus, et in 
quo tentorium mihi figi maluerim, cujus- 
que adeo gestiet mihi animus meminisse. 
Beatos vero vos, quibus hoc frui datum ! 
Non dignus eram ego, (ut fidelissimi 
Romani querimoniam imitari liceat,) 
qui et Christi et Eccleeiss sua? nomine 
sanctam hanc provinciam diutius susti- 
nerem. Illud vero ©cow tv yovvaffi. 
Nempe audito, quod res erat, non alia 
me quam adversiseima hie usum valetu- 
dine, serenissimus Rex mens, misertus 

miselli fiunuli sui, revocat me domum, 
(quippe quod cineres meos, aut sanda- 
pilam, vobis nihil quicquam prodesse 
posse norit,) succenturiavitque mihi vi- 
rum e suis selectissimum, quantum 
Theologum ! De me profecto (mero jam 
silicernio) quicquid fiat, viderit ille 
Deus mens, cujus ego totus sum. Vobis 
quidem ita feliciter prospectum est, ut 
sit, cur infirmitati mee haud parum 
gratulemini, quum hujusmodi instate- 
tisBimo sucoedaneo ceatum huno ves- 
trum beaverit. Neque tamen commit- 
tam (si Deus mihi vitam et vires indul- 
Berit) ut et corpore simul et animo 
abesse videar. Interea sane huic Sy- 
nodo, ubicunque terrarum sum, et vo- 
bis, consiliis conatibusque meis quibus- 
cunque res vestras me, pro virili, sedulo 
ac serio promoturum, sancte voveo*. 
Interim vobis omnibus ac singulis, ho- 
noratissimi Domini Delegati, reveren- 
dissime Praises, gravissimi Assessores, 
Scribsa doctissimi, Symmystse oolendia- 
simi, Tibique, venerandissima Synodus 
Universa, a?gro animo ac corpore ster- 
num valedico. Rogo vos omnes ob- 
nixius, ut precibus vestris imbecillem 
reducem facere, comitari, prosequi ve- 

* The Bishop was not unmlndftd of his promise ; rendering his aid towards a new Translation of the 
Bible, with Annotations, ordered by the Synod for the United Provinces ; published in the Dutch 
language in 1639 ; and in English by Theodore Haak, in 1657. 8ee Allport's Life of Bp. Davenant, 
p. xvili.— H. 

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noble acknowledgment of more good service from me than I durst 
own, dismissed me with an honourable retribution, and sent after 
me a rich medal of gold*, the portraiture of the synod, for a pre- 
cious monument of their respects to my poor endeavours, who 
failed not, while I was at the Hague, to impart unto them my 
poor advice concerning the proceeding of that synodical meeting. 
The difficulties of my return in such weakness were many and 
great; wherein, if ever God manifested his special providence to 
me, in overruling the cross accidents of that passage, and after 
many dangers and despairs contriving my safe arrival. 

After not many years' settling at home, it grieved my soul to 
see our own church begin to sicken of the same disease which we 
had endeavoured to cure in our neighbours. Mr. Mountague's 
tart and vehement assertions of some positions, near of kin to the 
Remonstrants of Netherland, gave occasion of raising no small 
broil in the church. Sides were taken; pulpits everywhere rang 
of these opinions : but parliaments took notice of the division and 
questioned the occasioned. Now, as one that desired to do all 
good offices to our dear and common mother, I set my thoughts 
on work how so dangerous a quarrel might be happily composed ; 
and, finding that mistaking was more guilty of this dissension than 
misbelieving, (since it plainly appeared to me that Mr. Mountague 
meant to express, not Arminius, but B. Overall , a more moderate 
and safe author, however he sped in delivery of him,) I wrote a 
little project of pacification, wherein I desired to rectify the judg- 
ment of men concerning this misapprehended controversy, show* 
ing them the true parties in this unseasonable plea ; and because 

» This medal, which the Bishop used Tetragrammaton of the Hebrews, with 

to wear suspended on his breast, came the inscription, Erunt ut mont Sion, 

into possession of the family of Jenny, oiodoxix. — H. 

of Bayfield Hall, near Holt, in the *> [See FuUer's Church History, vol. 

county of Norfolk ; and was bequeathed vi. p. 18, with note containing an ex- 

by William Jermy, Esq., who died in tract from Heylin's Life of Abp. Laud.] 

1 750, to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. c Dr. John Overall, Bishop of Nor- 

The obverse represents the assembly in wich, compiler of the Convocation Book 

full conclave, with the words Asaerta of 1606, author of the sacramental part 

Kdigume : the reverse, a mountain, with of the Church of England Catechism, 

a temple on the summit ; two men are and one of the translators of the Bible, 

ascending by a steep path, while the Camden terms him " a prodigious 

winds of discord violently assail the learned man." — H. 
mountain ; above, appeara the sacred 

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B. Overall went a midway betwixt the two opinions which he held 
extreme, and must needs therefore differ somewhat from the 
commonly received tenet in these points, I gathered out of 
B. Overall on the one side, and out of our English divines at 
Dort on the other, such common propositions concerning these 
five busy articles as wherein both of them are fully agreed d . All 
which being put together, seemed unto me to make up bo sufficient 
a body of accorded truth, that all other questions moved here- 
abouts appeared merely superfluous, and every moderate Christian 
might find where to rest himself without hazard of contradiction. 
These I made bold, by the hands of Dr. Young the worthy dean 
of Winchester 6 , to present to his excellent majesty, together with 
an humble motion of a peaceable silence to be enjoined to both 
parts in those other collateral and needless disquisitions, which, if 
they might befit the schools of academical disputants, could not 
certainly sound well from the pulpits of popular auditories. Those 
reconciliatory papers fell under the eyes of some grave divines on 
both parts. Mr. Mountague professed that he had seen them, and 
would subscribe to them very willingly ; others that were contra- 
rily minded, both English, Scottish, and French divines, proffered 
their hands to a no less ready subscription; so as much peace 
promised to result out of that weak and poor enterprise, had not 
the confused noise of the misconstructions of those who never 
saw the work, crying it down for the very name's sake, meeting 
with the royal edict of a general inhibition, buried it in a secure 

1 was scorched a little with this flame, which I desired to 
quench; yet this could not stay my hand from thrusting itself 
into an hotter fire. 

Some insolent Romanists, Jesuits especially, in their bold dis- 
putations, (which in the time of the treaty of the Spanish match 
and the calm of that relaxation were very frequent,) pressed no- 
thing so much as a catalogue of the professors of our religion, to 
be deduced from the primitive times; and with the peremptory 
challenge of the impossibility of this pedigree, dazzled the eyes 
of the simple : while some of our learned men, undertaking to 

d [See the Tract entitled "Via Media," vol. ix. p. 490.] 
e [Installed Dean, July 8, 1616.] 

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satisfy so needless and unjust a demand, gave as I conceived great 
advantage to the adversary. In a just indignation to see us thus 
wronged by misstating the question betwixt us, as if we, yielding 
ourselves of another church originally and fundamentally different, 
should make good our own erection upon the ruins, yea, the 
nullity, of theirs; and well considering the infinite and great 
inconveniences that must needs follow upon this defence, I ad- 
ventured to set my pen on work ; desiring to rectify the opinions 
of those men whom an ignorant zeal had transported to the pre- 
judice of our holy cause; laying forth the damnable corruptions of 
the Roman church, yet making our game at the outward visibility 
thereof and by this means putting them to the probation of those 
newly obtruded corruptions which are truly guilty of the breach 
betwixt us f . The drift whereof being not well conceived by some 
spirits that were not so wise as fervent, I was suddenly exposed to 
the rash censures of many well affected and zealous protestants; 
as if I had in a remission to my wonted zeal to the truth attributed 
too much to the Roman church, and strengthened the adversaries' 
hands and weakened our own. This envy I was fain to take off, 
by my speedy "Apologetical Advertisement," and after that by 
my " Reconciler," seconded with the unanimous letters of such 
reverend, learned, sound divines*, both bishops and doctors, as 
whose undoubtable authority was able to bear down calumny 
itself: which done, I did by a seasonable moderation provide for 
the peace of the church, in silencing both my defendants and chal- 
lengers in this unkind and ill-raised quarrel. 

Immediately before the publishing of this tractate, (which did 
not a little aggravate the envy and suspicion,) I was by his majesty 
raised to the bishopric of Exeter* 1 ; having formerly, with much 
humble deprecation, refused the see of Gloucester earnestly prof- 
fered unto me. How beyond all expectation it pleased God to 
place me in that western charge, which, if the Duke of Bucking- 
ham's letters, he being then in France, had arrived some hours 
sooner, I had been defeated of, and by what strange means it 
pleased God to make up the competency of that provision by the 

' [See the Treatise " the Old Beli- deaux, Dr. Primrose. [See vol. viii. p. 
gion. M ] 739 et ■•*•] 

* B. Morton, B. Davenant, Dr. Pri- * [Elected Nov. 5, 1627.] 

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unthought of addition of the rectory of St. Breok within that 
diocese, if I should fully relate the circumstances, would force 
the confession of an extraordinary hand of God in the disposing 
of those events. 

I entered upon that place, not without much prejudice and sus- 
picion on some hands; for some that sat at the stern of the church 
had me in great jealousy for too much favour of Puritanism. I 
soon had intelligence who were set over me for espials. My ways 
were curiously observed and scanned. However I took the reso- 
lution to follow those courses which might most conduce to the 
peace and happiness of my new and weighty charge. Finding 
therefore some factious spirits very busy in that diocese, I used 
all fair and gentle means to win them to good order ; and therein 
so happily prevailed that, saving two of that numerous clergy 
who continuing in their refractoriness fled away from censure, 
they were all perfectly reclaimed ; so as I had not one minister 
professedly opposite to the anciently received orders (for I was 
never guilty of urging any new impositions) of the church in that 
large diocese. 

Thus we went on comfortably together, till some persons of 
note in the clergy, being guilty of their own negligence and dis- 
orderly courses, began to envy our success ; and finding me ever 
ready to encourage those whom I found conscionably forward and 
painful in their places, and willingly giving way to orthodox and 
peaceable lectures in several parts of my diocese, opened their 
mouths against me, both obliquely in the pulpit and directly at 
the court ; complaining of my too much indulgence to persons dis- 
affected, and my too much liberty of frequent lecturings within 
my charge. The billows went so high that I was three several 
times upon my knee to his majesty to answer these great crimina- 
tions; and what contestation I had with some great lords con- 
cerning these particulars it would be too long to report: only 
this, under how dark a cloud I was hereupon I was so sensible, 
that I plainly told the lord Archbishop of Canterbury 1 , that rather 
than I would be obnoxious to those slanderous tongues of his mis- 
informers I would cast up my rochet. I knew I went right ways, 
and would not endure to live under undeserved suspicions. 

i Laud.— H. 

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What messages of caution I had from some of my wary bre- 
thren, and what expostulatory letters I had from above, I need 
not relate. Sure I am I had peace and comfort at home, in the 
happy sense of that general unanimity and loving correspondence 
of my clergy, till in the last year of my presiding there, after the 
synodical oath was set on foot— (which yet I did never tender to 
any one minister of my diocese,) by the incitation of some busy 
interlopers of the neighbour county, some of them began to enter 
into an unkind contestation with me about the election of clerks 
for the convocation; whom they secretly, without ever acquainting 
me with their desire or purpose, as driving to that end which we 
see now accomplished, would needs nominate and set up in com- 
petition to those whom I had after the usual form recommended 
to them. That they had a right to free voices in that choice I 
denied not; only I had reason to take it unkindly that they would 
work underhand, without me, and against me ; professing that if 
they had beforehand made their desires known to me, I should 
willingly have gone along with them in their election. It came to 
the poll. Those of my nomination carried it. 

The parliament begun, after some hard tugging there, return- 
ing home upon a recess I was met on the way, and cheerfully 
welcomed with some hundreds. 

In no worse terms I left that my once dear diocese; when, 
returning to Westminster, I was soon called by his majesty, who 
was then in the north, to a remove to Norwich. 

But how I took the Tower in my way, and how I have been 
dealt with since my repair hither, I could be lavish in the sad 
report ; ever desiring my good God to enlarge my heart in thank- 
fulness to him, for the sensible experience I have had of his 
fatherly hand over me in the deepest of all my afflictions, and to 
strengthen me for whatsoever other trials he shall be pleased to 
call me unto ; that, being found faithful unto the death, I may 
obtain that crown of life which he hath ordained for all those that 

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Worthy Sir, — Tou think it strange that I should salute you 
from hence. How can you choose, when I do yet still wonder to 
see myself here ? My intentions and this place are such strangers, 
that I cannot enough marvel how they met. 

But howsoever I do in all humility kiss the rod wherewith I 
smart ; as well knowing whose hand it is that wields it. To that 
Infinite Justice who can be innocent? But to my king and 
country never heart was or can be more clear; and I shall be- 
shrew my hand, if it shall have, against my thoughts, justly 
offended either: and if either say bo, I reply not; as having 
learned not to contest with those that can command legions. 

In the meantime it is a kind but a cold compliment, that you 
pity me ; an affection well placed where a man deserves to be 
miserable : for me, I am not conscious of such merit. 

You tell me in what fair terms I stood not long since with the 
world ; how large room I had in the hearts of the best men : but 
can you tell me how I lost it ? Truly I have, in the presence of 
my God, narrowly searched my own bosom. I have unpartially 
ransacked this fag-end of my life, and curiously examined every 
step of my ways ; and I cannot, by the most exact scrutiny of my 

» [The Bishop, together with his to the Tower on the 30th of December 

brethren who had signed the " Protes- preceding the date of this letter. See 

tation" presented to the king by Arch- Clarendon's Hist, of the Rebellion, Ozf. 

bishop Williams, had been committed 1849, vol « *• P* 499-1 

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saddest thoughts, find what it is that I have done to forfeit that 
good estimation , wherewith you say I was once blessed. ^ ' 

I can secretly arraign and condemn myself of infinite transgres- 
sions before the tribunal of heaven. Who that dwells in a house 
of clay can be pure in His sight that charged his angels with 
folly ? O God, when I look upon the reckonings betwixt thee 
and my soul, and find my shameful arrears, I can be most vile in 
my own sight, because I have deserved to be so in thine : yet 
even then, in thy most pure eyes, give me leave the while not to 
abdicate my sincerity. Thou knowest my heart desires to be 
right with thee, whatever my failings may have been ; and I know 
what value thou puttest upon those sincere desires, notwithstand- 
ing all the intermixtures of our miserable infirmities. These I 
can penitently bewail to thee : but in the meantime what have I 
done to men ? Let them not spare to shame me with the late 
sinful declinations of my age ; and fetch blushes if they can from 
a wrinkled face. 

Let mine enemies (for such I perceive I have, and those are the 
surest monitors,) say what I have offended. For their better irrita- 
tion, my clear conscience bids me boldly to take up the challenge 
of good Samuel, Behold, here I ami witness against me before 
the Lord, and before his anointed : whose ox have I taken ? or 
whose ass have I taken t or whom have I defrauded ? whom 
have I oppressed ? or of whose hand have I received any bribe, 
to blind mine eyes therewith f and I will restore it you. 

Can they say that I bore up the reins of government too hard, 
and exercised my jurisdiction in a rigorous and tyrannical way, 
insolently lording it over my charge ? Malice itself perhaps would 
but dare not speak it : or if it should, the attestation of so grave 
and numerous a clergy would choke such impudence. Let them 
witness whether they were not still entertained by me with an 
equal return of reverence as if they had been all bishops with me, 
or I only a presbyter with them ; according to the old rule of 
Egbert Archbishop of York, Intra domum episeopus collegam se 
presbyterorum esse eognoscat. Let them say whether aught here 
looked like despotical, or sounded rather of imperious commands 
than of brotherly complying : whether I have not rather from some 
beholders undergone the censure of a too humble remissness; as 

BP. HALL, VOL. I. d 

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perhaps stooping too low beneath the eminence of episcopal dig- 
nity : whether I have not suffered as much in some opinions for 
the winning mildness of my administration, as some others for a 
rough severity. 

Can they say, for this aspersion is likewise common, that I 
barred the free course of religious exercises by the suppression of 
painful and peaceable preachers ? If shame will suffer any man 
to object it, let me challenge him to instance but in one name. 
Kay, the contrary is so famously known in the western parts, that 
every mouth will herein justify me. What free admission and 
encouragement have I always given to all the sons of peace that 
came with God's message in their mouths ! What missuggestions 
have I waived ! What blows have I borne off in the behalf of 
some of them, from some gainsayers I How have I often and pub- 
licly professed, that as well might we complain of too many stars 
in the sky as too many orthodox preachers in the church ! 

Can they complain that I fretted the necks of my clergy with 
the uneasy yoke of new and illegal impositions ? Let them whom 
I have thus hurt blazon my unjust severity, and write their 
wrongs in marble ; but if, disliking all novel devices, I have held 
close to those ancient rules which limited the audience of our 
godly predecessors ; if I have grated upon no man's conscience by 
the pressure, no not by the tender, of the late oath b , or any un- 
prescribed ceremony ; if I have freely, in the committee appointed 
by the most honourable house of peers, declared my open dislike 
of all innovations both in doctrine and rites ; why should my in- 
nocence suffer ? 

Can they challenge me as a close and backstair friend to Popery 
or Arminianism, who have in so many pulpits and so many presses 
cried down both ? Surely the very paper that I have spent in 
the refutation of both these is enough to stop more mouths than 
can be guilty of this calumny. 

Can they check me with a lazy silence in my place ? With 

b [The oath alluded to waa included solved, and Convocation had been re- 
in the Canons (Can. 6.) passed by Con- assembled by special commission under 
vocation, which met at the same time the great seal, dated May 14, 1640. 
with the Parliament, 13th April, 1640. See Clarendon's Hist, of the Rebellion, 
These Canons however were not passed vol. i. p. 209.] 
until after Parliament had been dis- 

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infrequence of preaching ? Let the populous auditories where I 
have lived witness whether, haying furnished all the churches near 
me with able preachers, I took not all opportunities of supplying 
such courses as I could get in my cathedral ; and when my tongue 
was silent, let the world say whether my hand were idle. 

Lastly, since no man can offer to upbraid me with too much 
pomp, which is wont to be the common eye-sore of our envied 
profession, can any man pretend to a ground of taxing me, as I 
perceive one of late hath most unjustly done, of too much world* 
liness ? Surely of all the vices forbidden in the Decalogue, there 
is no one which my heart upon due examination can less fasten 
upon me than this. He that made it knows that he hath put into 
it a true disregard (save only for necessary use) of the world; 
and of all that it can boast of, whether for profit, pleasure, or 
glory. No, no ; I know the world too well to dote upon it. While 
I am in it how can I but use it ? But I never care, never yield, to 
enjoy it. It were too great a shame for a philosopher, a Christian, 
a divine, a bishop, to have his thoughts grovelling here upon 
earth : for mine, they scorn the employment, and look upon all 
these sublunary distractions, as upon this man's false censure, 
with no other eyes than contempt. 

And now, Sir, since I cannot, how secretly faulty soever, guess 
at my own public exorbitances, I beseech you, where you hear my 
name traduced, learn of mine accusers, whose lyncean eyes would 
seem to see farther into me than my own, what singular offence I 
have committed. 

If perhaps my calling be my crime ; it is no other than the 
most holy fathers of the church in the primitive and succeeding 
ages ever since the apostles, many of them also blessed martyrs, 
have been guilty of: it is no other than all the holy doctors of 
the church in all generations ever since, have celebrated as most 
reverend, sacred, inviolable: it is no other than all the whole 
Christian world, excepting one small handful of our neighbours, 
whose condition denied them the opportunity of this government, 
is known to enjoy without contradiction. How safe is it erring in 
such company ! 

If my offence be in my pen, which hath as it could undertaken 
the defence of that apostolical institution, though with all mo- 


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desty and fair respects to the churches differing from us, I cannot 
deprecate a truth ; and such I know this to be ; which is since so 
cleared by better hands that 1 well hope the better informed world 
cannot but sit down convinced. Neither doubt I but that, as 
metals receive the more lustre with often rubbing, this truth, the 
more agitation it undergoes, shall appear every day more glorious. 
Only, may the good Spirit of the Almighty speedily dispel all 
those dusky prejudices from the minds of men, which may hinder 
them from discerning so clear a light. 

Shortly then, knowing nothing by myself, whereby I have de- 
served to alienate any good heart from me, I shall resolve to rest 
securely upon the acquitting testimony of a good conscience and 
the secret approbation of my gracious God ; who shall one day 
cause mine innocence to break forth as the morning light, and 
shall give me beauty for bonds ; and for a light and momentary 
affliction, an eternal weight of glory. 

To shut up all, and to surcease your trouble, 1 write not this 
as one that would pump for favour and reputation from the dis- 
affected multitude ; for I charge you, that what passes privately 
betwixt us may not fall under common eyes : but only with this 
desire and intention, to give you true grounds, where you shall 
hear my name mentioned with a causeless offence, to yield me a 
just and charitable vindication. 60 you on still to do the office 
of a true friend, yea, the duty of a just man, in speaking in the 
cause of the dumb, in righting the innocent, in rectifying the mis- 
guided ; and, lastly, the service of a faithful and Christian patriot, 
in helping the times with the best aid of your prayers ; which is 
daily the task of 

Your much devoted and thankful friend, 

Jos. Norvic. 
From the Tower, Jan. 24, 164 1-2. 

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My very good Lord, — I received, after much entreaty, your 
meek and modest vindication of yourself. I pretended want of 
satisfaction concerning some late actions of your lordship's; but 
now I must tell you, and the world together, I was fully con- 
vinced of your desert and integrity before ; and this my request 
was but to draw from your lordship such a declaration of yourself 
as might convince others, by my divulging it abroad. But of this 
you have now sent me, I must say, as not more a friend to you 
than truth, you have not done yourself right ; you have not fol- 
lowed your cause half thoroughly ; and therefore give me leave 
(for I will take it) a little more to betray you to the eyes of men, 
and more openly to bewail your bashful innocence. I cannot 
without a vocal compassion behold your injured virtue, the most 
remarkable example of the malignity of our times ; which, when 
I looked it should receive its crown from God and men, quite 
contrary to my expectation I find cast down and trampled in the 

It is not full two years ago, when in that innovating age you 
suffered under storms and threats from over busy instruments ; 
every step waited on by entrapping spies and informers, and 
brought so far into the mouth of danger, that that accuser, KiU 
vert, durst openly threaten you to be the next man designed for 
his inquisition. How often have you stood as a shield between 

* Subjoined to the original edition of the Bishop's Letter, published in 1642, and 
now first reprinted — H. 

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those men and danger, who can now complain you are a bishop ; 
when, if you had not been so, where had they been at this hour ? 
How many of those antiprelatical men, even the most rigid of 
them, have we heard blessing God for such a diocesan, by whose 
provision and government great hath been the company of 
preachers ; and acknowledging the sun of the gospel, with your 
approach setting in your western sea, or rather rising there in 
more perfect lustre, when the world justly complained it went 
down in some other parts of the kingdom ? What prayers, what 
praises, what wishes, were then on all sides poured out for you ! 
I should be accounted your flatterer should I but mention them. 
Whereas now in these days of reformation, when you might justly 
expect a reward of your former sufferings, as deserving (let me 
confidently speak) the greatest share, I see you as much driven 
at on the other side by an ignorant fury of those you defend, and 
smarting as an enemy to that truth, the maintaining of which 
hath raised against you so many dangerous adversaries. I find 
you still the same man you were before ; and yet, what is strange, 
groaning under the same burden of censure, and worse, from quite 
contrary hands, even from those whose duty it is to promote and 
vindicate you ; and yet who think they do that very truth you 
maintain good service in punishing you its defender. A miserably 
misguided zeal I Father, forgive them, for they know not what 
they do. In the meantime, what have they to answer for, who, 
when they can find no real blemish upon you, dare, like the Ro- 
mish imagers in Q. Mary's days, paint fiends and faults upon your 
coat ; as those cunningly cruel men in the primitive times, cloth- 
ing the harmless Christian martyrs with the skins of savage bears 
and bulls, that they might be baited and torn by the deceived 
mastiffs, which would have fawned upon them had they appeared 
in their own shapes ? But I forbear : only this, my Lord, if you 
thus sink, and suffer under evil and killing tongues, happy, thrice 
happy, are you ; you know One hath said it that will make it 
good: I shall not, I seriously profess, pity, but envy you for 
having this eternal honour, to expire among scoffs and unjust 
ignominy with our great Master. And therefore now rouse up 
those drooping spirits, which age and restless labours have left 

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you ; fix your eyes stedfastly, with blessed Stephen, upon heaven, 
and rest your thoughts there, as no doubt you do, with a calm 
and smiling confidence; and know, every stone is thrown at you 
shall tarn a precious one, to deck your crown of glory. Into the 
bosom of our gracious God, whom we have thus long served and 
enjoyed together, I securely commend you ; and till I meet you 
in another world, however this world judge of you, shall continue 
a constant lover of your tried goodness. 

H. S. 
Jan. 39, 1 64 1. 

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Nothing could be more plain than that, upon the call of this 
parliament, and before, there was a general plot and resolution 
of the faction to alter the government of the church especially. 
The height and insolency of some church governors, as was con- 
ceived, and the ungrounded imposition of some innovations upon 
the churches both of Scotland and England, gave a fit hint to the 

In the vacancy therefore before the summons, and immediately 
after it, there was great working secretly for the designation and 
election, as of knights and burgesses, so especially, beyond all 
former use, of the clerks of convocation : when now the clergy 
were stirred up to contest with and oppose their diocesans, for 
the choice of such men as were most inclined to the favour of an 

The parliament was no sooner set, than many vehement 
speeches were made against established church government, and 
enforcement of extirpation both root and branch. 

And because it was not fit to set upon all at once, the resolu- 
tion was to begin with those bishops which had subscribed to the 
canons then lately published upon the shutting up of the former 
parliament: whom they would first have had. accused of treason; 
but that not appearing feasible, they thought best to indict them 
of very high crimes and offences against the king, the parliament, 
and kingdom : which was prosecuted with great earnestness by 
some prime lawyers in the house of commons, and entertained 
with like fervency by some zealous lords in the house of peers ; 
every of those particular canons being pressed to the most envious 

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and dangerous height that was possible: the Archbishop of York a 
(was designed for the report) aggravating Mr. Maynard's crimina- 
tions to the utmost, not without some interspersions of his own. 
The counsel of the accused bishops gave in such a demurring 
answer as stopped the mouth of that heinous indictment. 

When this prevailed not, it was contrived to draw petitions 
accusatory from many parts of the kingdom against episcopal 
government ; and the promoters of the petitions were entertained 
with great respects : whereas the many petitions of the opposite 
part, though subscribed with many thousand hands, were slighted 
and disregarded. 

Withal the rabble of London, after their petitions cunningly 
and upon other pretences procured, were stirred up to come to 
the houses personally, to crave justice both against the Earl of 
Strafford first, and then against the Archbishop of Canterbury ; 
and lastly against the whole order of bishops : which coming 
at first unarmed were checked by some well-willers, and easily 
persuaded to gird on their rusty swords ; and so accoutred came 
by thousands to the houses, filling all the outer rooms, offering 
foul abuses to the bishops as they passed, crying out, " No bishops, 
no bishops b ;" and at last, after divers days' assembling, grown 
to that height of fury that many of them, whereof Sir Richard 
Wiseman professed (though to his cost) to be captain, came with 
resolution of some violent courses, insomuch that many swords 
were drawn hereupon at Westminster, and the rout did not stick 
openly to profess that they would pull the bishops in pieces. 
Messages were sent down to them from the lords. They still held 
firm both to the place and their bloody resolutions. It now grew 
to be torchlight. One of the lords, the Marquis of Hertford, 
came up to the bishops' form, told us that we were in great 
danger, advised us to take some course for our own safety ; and 
being desired to tell us what he thought was the best way, coun- 
selled us to continue in the parliament house all that night: 
" For/' saith he, " these people vow they will watch you at your 
going out, and will search every coach for you with torches, so as 
you cannot escape/ 1 Hereupon the house of lords was moved for 

a [Archbishop Williams, translated to York Dec. 4, 164 1.] 
b [Clarendon, vol. i. p. 495.] 

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some order for the preventing their mutinous and riotous meet- 
ings. Messages were sent down to the house of commons to this 
purpose more than once: nothing was effected; but for the pre- 
sent (forsomuch as all the danger was at the rising of the house,) 
it was earnestly desired of the lords that some care might be 
taken of our safety. The motion was received by some lords with 
a smile. Some other lords, as the Earl of Manchester, undertook 
the protection of the Archbishop of York and his company (whose 
shelter I went under) to their lodgings. The rest, some of them 
by their long stay, others by secret and farfetched passages, 
escaped home. 

It was not for us to venture any more to the house without 
some better assurance. Upon our resolved forbearance therefore, 
the Archbishop of York sent for us to his lodging at Westminster ; 
lays before us the perilous condition we were in ; advises for 
remedy, except we meant utterly to abandon our right and to 
desert our station in parliament, to petition both his majesty and 
the parliament, that since we were legally called by his majesty's 
writ to give our attendance in parliament, we might be secured 
in the performance of our duty and service against those dangers 
that threatened us ; and withal to protest against any such acts 
as should be made during the time of our forced absence; for 
which he assured us there were many precedents in former parlia- 
ments ; and which if we did not, we should betray the trust com- 
mitted to us by his majesty, and shamefully betray and abdicate 
the due right both of ourselves and successors. 

To this purpose, in our presence he drew up the said petition 
and protestation ; avowing it to be legal, just, and agreeable to 
all former proceedings; and, being fair written, sent it to our 
several lodgings for our hands ; which we accordingly subscribed, 
intending yet to have had some further consultation concerning 
the delivering and whole carriage of it. But ere we could sup- 
pose it to be in any hand but his own, the first news we heard 
was that there were messengers addressed to fetch us into the 
parliament upon an accusation of high treason. For whereas this 
paper was to have been delivered, first to his majesty^s secretary, 
and after perusal by him to his majesty ; and after from his 
majesty to the parliament, and for that purpose to the lord 

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BISHOP hall's habd measure, lix 

keeper, the Lord Littleton, who was the speaker of the house of 
peers ; all these professed not to have perused it at all ; but the 
said lord keeper, willing enough to take this advantage of ingra- 
tiating himself with the house of commons and the faction, to 
which he knew himself sufficiently obnoxious, finding what use 
might be made of it by prejudicate minds, reads the same openly 
in the house of lords: and, when he found some of the faction 
apprehensive enough of misconstruction, aggravates the matter, 
as highly offensive and of dangerous consequence ; and thereupon, 
not without much heat and vehemence, and with an ill preface, it 
is sent' down to the house of commons, where it was entertained 
heinously ; Glynne with a full mouth crying it up for no less than 
an high treason, and some comparing, yea preferring it, to the 

We poor souls, who little thought that we had done anything 
that might deserve a chiding, are now called to our knees at the 
bar, and charged severally with high treason ; being not a little 
astonished at the suddenness of this crimination, compared with 
the perfect innocence of our own intentions, which were only to 
bring us to our due places in parliament with safety and speed, 
without the least purpose of any man's offence. 

But now, traitors we are in all the haste, and must be dealt 
with accordingly ; for on January 30th , in all the extremity of 
frost, at eight o'clock in the dark evening, are we voted to the 
Tower; only, two of our number had the favour of the black rod 
by reason of their age ; which, though desired by a noble lord on 
my behalf, would not be yielded. Wherein I acknowledge and 
bless the gracious providence of my God : for had I been gratified 
I had been undone both in body and purse; the rooms being 
strait, and the expense beyond the reach of my estate. 

The news of this our crime and imprisonment soon flew over 
the city, and was entertained by our well-willers with ringing of 
bells and bonfires ; who now gave us up, not without great tri- 
umph, for lost men ; railing on our perfidiousness, and adjudging 

* It should probably be December passage the bishop says, " Thus having 

30th. The date of the " Letter from spent the time betwixt New-year's even 

the Tower/' given above, is January and Whitsuntide in those safe walls." 

14th, 1641. — Joins. [In a subsequent See p. bail] 

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bt bishop hall's hard measure. 

us to what foul deaths they pleased. And what scurrile and ma- 
licious pamphlets were scattered abroad throughout the kingdom 
and in foreign parts, blazoning our infamy and exaggerating our 
treasonable practices I What insultation of our adversaries was 
here ! 

' Being caged sure enough in the Tower, the faction had now 
fair opportunities to work their own designs. They therefore, 
taking the advantage of our restraint, renew that bill of theirs, 
which had been twice before rejected since the beginning of this 
session, for taking away the votes of bishops in parliament ; and 
in a very thin house easily passed it: which once condescended 
unto, I know not by what strong importunity his majesty's assent 
was drawn from him thereunto. 

We now, instead of looking after our wonted honour, must 
bend our thoughts upon the guarding of our lives ; which were 
with no small eagerness pursued by the violent agents of the fac- 
tion. Their sharpest wits and greatest lawyers were employed 
to advance our impeachment to the height; but the more they 
looked into the' business, the less crime could they find to fasten 
upon us: insomuch as one of their oracles, being demanded his 
judgment concerning the fact, professed to them they might with 
as good reason accuse us of adultery. Tet still there are we fast ; 
only upon petition to the lords obtaining this favour, that we 
might have counsel assigned us ; which, after much reluctation, 
and many menaces from the commons against any man of all the 
commoners of England that should dare to be seen to plead in 
this case against the representative body of the commons, was 
granted us. The lords assigned us five very worthy lawyers, 
which were nominated to them by us. What trouble and charge 
it was to procure those eminent and much employed counsellors 
to come to the Tower to us, and to observe the strict laws of the 
place for the time of their ingress, regress, and stay, it is not 
hard to judge. 

After we had lien some weeks there however, the house of 
commons, upon the first tender of our impeachment, had desired 
we might be brought to a speedy trial ; yet now, finding belike 
how little ground they had for so high an accusation, they began 
to slack their pace, and suffered us rather to languish under the 

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fear of so dreadful arraignment ; insomuch as now we are fain to 
petition the lords that we might be brought to our trial. 

The day was set ; several summonses were sent unto us ; the 
lieutenant had his warrant to bring us to the bar ; our impeach- 
ment was severally read ; we pleaded " not guilty ," modo et forma; 
and desired speedy proceedings, which were accordingly promised, 
but not too hastily performed. 

After long expectation, another day was appointed for the pro- 
secution of this high charge. The lieutenant brought us again to 
the bar ; but with what shoutings and exclamations and furious 
expressions of the enraged multitudes, it is not easy to apprehend. 
Being thither brought and severally charged upon our knees, and 
having given our negative answers to every particular, two bishops, 
London b and Winchester c , were called in as witnesses against us, 
as in that point, whether they apprehended any such cause of 
fears in the tumults assembled, as that we were in any danger of 
our lives in coming to the parliament ; who seemed to incline to 
a favourable report of the perils threatened ; though one of them 
was convinced out of his own mouth, from the relations himself 
had made at the Archbishop of York's lodging. After this Wild 
and Glynne made fearful declamations at the bar against us ; ag- 
gravating all the circumstances of our pretended treason to the 
highest pitch. Our counsel were all ready at the bar to plead for 
us, in answer of their clamorous and envious suggestions ; but it 
was answered that it was now too late, we should have another 
day, which day to this day never came. 

The circumstances of that day's hearing were more grievous to 
as than the substance ; for we were all thronged so miserably in 
that strait room before the bar, by reason that the whole house 
of commons would be there to see the prizes of their champions 
played, that we stood the whole afternoon in no small torture ; 
sweating and struggling with a merciless multitude ; till being dis- 
missed, we were exposed to a new and greater danger. For now 
in the dark we must to the Tower by barge, as we came, and must 
shoot the bridge with no small peril. That God, under whose 
merciful protection we are, returned us to our safe custody. 

b [William Juxon, bishop of London.] c [Walter Curie, bishop of Winchester.] 

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lxii bishop hall's hard measure. 

There now we lay some weeks longer, expecting the summons 
for our counsels' answer ; but instead thereof, our merciful adver- 
saries, well finding how sure they would be foiled in that unjust 
charge of treason, now, under pretences of remitting the height of 
rigour, waive their former impeachment of treason against us, and 
fall upon the accusation of high misdemeanours in that our Pro- 
testation, and will have us prosecuted as guilty of a premunire ; 
although as we conceive the law hath ever been in the parlia- 
mentary proceedings, that if a man were impeached as of treason, 
being the highest crime, the accusant must hold him to the proof 
of the charge, and may not fall to any meaner impeachment upon 
failing of the higher. 

But in this esse of ours it fell out otherwise ; for, although the 
lords had openly promised us that nothing should be done against 
us till we and our counsel were heard in our defence; yet the 
next news we heard was, the house of commons had drawn up 
a bill against us, wherein they declared us to be delinquents of a 
very high nature, and had thereupon desired to have it enacted 
that all our spiritual means should be taken away ; only there 
should be a yearly allowance to every bishop for his maintenance, 
according to a proportion by them set down ; wherein they were 
pleased that my share should come to four hundred pounds per 
annum. This bill was sent up to the lords, and by them also 
passed, and there hath ever since lien. 

This being done, after some weeks more, finding the Tower 
besides the restraint chargeable, we petitioned the lords that we 
might be admitted to bail and have liberty to return to our homes. 
The Earl of Essex moved : the lords assented, took our bail, sent 
to the lieutenant of the Tower for our discharge. How glad were 
we to fly out of our cage I 

No sooner was I got to my lodging than I thought to take a 
little fresh air in St. James's Park ; and in my return to my lodg- 
ing in the Dean's Yard, passing through Westminster Hall, was 
saluted by divers of my parliament acquaintance and welcomed 
to my liberty; whereupon some that looked upon me with an 
evil eye ran into the house, and complained that the bishops 
were let loose ; which it seems was not well taken by the house 
of commons, who presently sent a kind of expostulation to the 

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lords, that they had dismissed so heinous offenders witheuktiieir 
knowledge and consent. 

Scarce had I rested me in my lodging when there comes a mes- 
senger to me with the sad news of sending me and the rest of my 
brethren the bishops back to the Tower again : from whence we 
came, thither we must go ; and thither I went with an heavy, but 
I thank God not impatient, heart. 

After we had continued there some six weeks longer, and 
earnestly petitioned to return to our several charges, we were 
upon five thousand pound bond dismissed, with a clause of revo- 
cation at a short warning if occasion should require. 

Thus having spent the time betwixt New-year's even and 
Whitsuntide in those safe walls, where we by turns preached 
every Lord's day to a large auditory of citizens, we disposed of 
ourselves to the places of our several abode. 

For myself, addressing myself to Norwich, whither it was his 
majesty's pleasure to remove me, I was at the first received with 
more respect than in such times I could have expected. There I 
preached the day after my arrival to a numerous and attentive 
people, neither was sparing of my pains in this kind ever since ; 
till the times, growing every day more impatient of a bishop, 
threatened my silencing. 

There, though with some secret murmurs of disaffected persons, 
I enjoyed peace till the ordinance of sequestration came forth, 
which was in the latter end of March following; then, when I 
was in hope of receiving the profits of the foregoing half year for 
the maintenance of my family, were all my rents stopped and 
diverted ; and in the April following came the sequestrators, viz. 
Mr. Sotherton, Mr. Tooley, Mr. Rawley, Mr. Greenwood, &c. to 
the palace, and told me that by virtue of an ordinance of parlia- 
ment they must seize upon the palace, and all the estate I had, 
both real and personal; and accordingly sent certain men ap- 
pointed by them, whereof one had been burned in the hand for 
the mark of his truth, to appraise all the goods that were in the 
house; which they accordingly executed with all diligent se- 
verity, not leaving so much as a dozen of trenchers or my 
children's pictures out of their curious inventory. Tea, they 

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Ixiv BISHOP hall's hard measure. 

would have appraised our very wearing-clothes, had not Alder- 
man Tooley and Sheriff Rawley, to whom I sent to require their 
judgment concerning the ordinance in this point, declared their 
opinion to the contrary. 

These goods, both library and household stuff of all kinds, were 
appointed to be exposed to public sale. Much inquiry there was 
when the goods should be brought to the market; but in the 
meantime Mrs. Goodwin, a religious good gentlewoman, whom yet 
we had never known or seen, being moved with compassion, very 
kindly offered to lay down to the sequestrators that whole sum 
which the goods were valued at, and was pleased to leave them in 
our hands for our use till we might be able to repurchase them ; 
which she did accordingly, and had the goods formally deli- 
vered to her by Mr. Smith and Mr. Greenwood, two sequestrators. 
As for the books, several stationers looked on them, but were not 
forward to buy them : at last Mr. Cook, a worthy divine of this 
diocese, gave bond to the sequestrators to pay to them the whole 
sum whereat they were set ; which was afterwards satisfied out of 
that poor pittance that was allowed me for my maintenance. As 
for my evidences, they required them from me. I denied them, 
as not holding myself bound to deliver them. They nailed and 
sealed up the door, and took such as they found with me. 

But before this, the first noise that I heard of my trouble was, 
that one morning before my servants were up there came to my 
gates one Wright, a London trooper, attended with others, re- 
quiring entrance, threatening if they were not admitted to break 
open the gates ; whom I found at my first sight struggling with 
one of my servants for a pistol which he had in his hand. I de- 
manded his business at that unseasonable time. He told me he 
came to search for arms and ammunition, of which 1 must be dis- 
armed. I told him I had only two muskets in the house, and no 
other military provision. He, not resting upon my word, searched 
round about the house, looked into the chests and trunks, ex- 
amined the vessels in the cellar. Finding no other warlike furni- 
ture, he asked me what horses I had, for his commission was to 
take them also. I told him how poorly I was stored, and that my 
age would not allow me to travel on foot. In conclusion he took 

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one horse for the present, and such account of another, that he 
did highly expostulate with me afterwards that I had otherwise 
disposed of him. 

Now not only my rents present, but the arrearages of the for- 
mer years which I had in favour forborne to some tenants, being 
treacherously confessed to the sequestrators, were by them called 
for and taken from me. Neither was there any course at all taken 
for my maintenance. I therefore addressed myself to the com- 
mittee sitting here at Norwich, and desired them to give order 
for some means, out of that large patrimony of the church, to be 
allowed me. They all thought it very just ; and there being pre- 
sent Sir Tho. Woodhouse and Sir John Potts, parliament men, it 
was moved and held fit by them and the rest that the proportion 
which the votes of the parliament had pitched upon, viz. four 
hundred pounds per annum, should be allowed to me. My lord 
of Manchester, who was then conceived to have great power in 
matter of those sequestrations, was moved herewith. He ap- 
prehended it very just and reasonable, and wrote to the com- 
mittee here, to set out so many of the manors belonging to this 
bishopric as should amount to the said sum of four hundred 
pounds annually; which was answerably done under the hands 
of the whole table. 

And now I well hoped I should yet have a good competency 
of maintenance out of that plentiful estate which I might have 
had : but those hopes were no sooner conceived than dashed ; for 
before I could gather up one quarter's rent, there comes down 
an order from the committee for sequestrations above, under the 
hand of Serjeant Wild the chairman, procured by Mr. Miles 
Corbet, to inhibit any such allowance, and telling our committee 
here, that neither they nor any other had power to allow me any- 
thing at all : but if my wife found herself to need a maintenance, 
upon her suit to the committee of lords and commons it might 
be granted that she should have a fifth part, according to the 
ordinance, allowed for the sustentation of herself and her family. 
Hereupon she sends a petition up to that committee ; which, after 
a long delay, was admitted to be read, and an order granted for 
the fifth part. 

But still the rents and revenues, both of my spiritual and tem- 


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lxvi BISHOP hall's habd measure. 

poral lands, were taken np by the sequestrators, both in Norfolk, 
and Suffolk, and Essex, and we kept off from either allowance 
or account. 

At last, upon much pressing, Beadle the solicitor and Rust the 
collector brought in an account to the committee, such as it was ; 
but so confused and perplexed, and so utterly imperfect, that we 
could never come to know what a fifth part meant : but they were 
content that I should eat my books, by setting off the sum en- 
gaged for them out of the fifth part. Meantime, the synodals 
both in Norfolk and Suffolk, and ail the spiritual profits of the 
diocese, were also kept back; only ordinations and institutions 
continued a while. 

But after the covenant was appointed to be taken, and was 
generally swallowed of both clergy and laity, my power of ordi- 
nation was with some strange violence restrained: for when I 
was going on in my wonted course, which no law or ordinance 
had inhibited, certain forward volunteers in the city, banding 
together, stir up the mayor and aldermen and sheriffs to call me 
to an account for an open violation of their covenant. 

To this purpose divers of them came to my gates at a very 
unseasonable time; and knocking very vehemently, required to 
speak with the bishop. Messages were sent to them to know 
their business : nothing would satisfy them but the bishop's pre- 
sence. At last I came down to them, and demanded what the 
matter was: they would have the gate opened, and then they 
would tell me. I answered that I would know them better first : 
if they had anything to say to me I was ready to hear them. 
They told me they had a writing to me from Mr. Mayor and 
some other of their magistrates. The paper contained both a 
challenge of me for breaking the covenant in ordaining ministers ; 
and withal required me to give in the names of those which 
were ordained by me, both then and formerly since the covenant. 
My answer was, that Mr. Mayor was much abused by those who 
had misinformed him and drawn that paper from him; that I 
would the next day give a full answer to the writing. They 
moved that my answer might be by my personal appearance at 
the Guildhall. I asked them when they ever heard of a bishop 
of Norwich appearing before a mayor. I knew mine own place, 

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and would take that way of answer which I thought fit ; and so 
dismissed them, who had given out that day that had they known 
before of mine ordaining, they would have pulled me and those 
whom I ordained out of the ehapel by the ears. 

While I received nothing, yet something was required of me. 
They were not ashamed, after they had taken away and sold all 
my goods and personal estate, to come to me for assessments and 
monthly payments for that estate which they had taken; and took 
distresses from me upon my most just denial ; and vehemently 
required me to find the wonted alms of my predecessors, when 
they had left me nothing. 

Many insolencies and affronts were in all this time put upon 
us. One while a whole rabble of volunteers came to my gates 
late, when they were locked up, and called for the porter to give 
them entrance : which being not yielded, they threatened to make 
by force ; and had not the said gates been very strong, they had 
done it. Others of them clambered over the walls, and would 
come into my house : their errand, they said, was to search for 
delinquents ; what they would have done I know not, had not we 
by a secret way sent to raise the officers for our rescue. Another 
while, the Sheriff Toftes and Alderman Iinsey, attended with 
many zealous followers, came into my chapel to look for super- 
stitious pictures and relics of idolatry ; and send for me, to let me 
know they found those windows full of images, which were very 
offensive and must be demolished. I told them they were the 
pictures of some ancient and worthy bishops, as St. Ambrose, 
Austin, &o. It was answered me that they were so many popes ; 
and one younger man amongst the rest (Townsend, as I perceived 
afterwards) would take upon him to defend that every diocesan 
bishop was pope. I answered him with some scorn ; and obtained 
leave that I might, with the least loss and defacing of the windows, 
give order for taking off that offence ; which I did by causing the 
heads of those pictures to be taken off, since I knew the bodies 
could not offend. 

There was not that care and moderation used in reforming the 
cathedral church bordering upon my palace. It is no other than 
tragical to relate the carriage of that furious sacrilege whereof 
our eyes and ears were the sad witnesses, under the authority 

e % 

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and presence of Linsey, Toftes the sheriff, and Greenwood. Lord, 
what work was here ! what clattering of glasses ! what heating 
down of walls ! what tearing up of monuments ! what pulling 
down of seats ! what wresting out of irons and brass from the 
windows and graves ! what defacing of arms I what demolishing 
of curious stonework, that had not any representation in the 
world but only of the cost of the founder and skill of the mason ! 
what tooting and piping upon the destroyed organ-pipes! and 
what a hideous triumph on the market-day before all the country, 
when, in a kind of sacrilegious and profane procession, all the 
organ-pipes, vestments, both copes and surplices, together with 
the leaden cross which had been newly sawn down from over the 
Greenyard pulpit, and the service-books and singing-books that 
could be had, were carried to the fire in the public marketplace ; 
a lewd wretch walking before the train in his cope trailing in the 
dirt, with a service-book in his hand, imitating in an impious 
scorn the tune, and usurping the words of the litany used formerly 
in the church. Near the public cross all these monuments of 
idolatry must be sacrificed to the fire ; not without much ostenta- 
tion of a zealous joy, in discharging ordnance, to the cost of some 
who professed how much they had longed to see that day. Nei- 
ther was it any news, upon this guild-day, to have the cathedral, 
now open on all sides, to be filled with musketeers, waiting for 
the major's return ; drinking and tobacconing as freely as if it 
had turned alehouse. 

Still yet I remained in my palace, though with but a poor 
retinue and means; but the house was held too good for me. 
Many messages were sent by Mr. Corbet to remove me thence. 
The first pretence was, that the committee, who now was at 
charge for an house to sit in, might make their daily session 
there; being a place both more public, roomy, and chargeless. 
The committee after many consultations resolved it convenient to 
remove thither, though many overtures and offers were made 
to the contrary. Mr. Corbet was impatient of my stay there; 
and procures and sends peremptory messages for my present 
dislodging : we desired to have some time allowed for providing 
some other mansion, if we must needs be cast out of this ; which 
my wife was so willing to hold, that she offered, if the charge of 

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the present committee-house were the thing stood upon, she 
would be content to defray the sum of the rent of that house of 
her fifth part : but that might not be yielded : out we must, and 
that in three weeks' warning, by Midsummer-day then approach- 
ing ; so as we might have hen in the street for aught I know, 
had not the providence of God so ordered it that a neighbour in 
the Close, one Mr. Gostlin, a widower, was content to void his 
house for us. 

This hath been my Measure; wherefore I know not: Lord, 
thou knowest, who only canst remedy and end and forgive or 
avenge this horrible oppression. 

Jos. Nobvic. 

Scrip8i, May 29, 1647. 

[Thus ejected from his palace and debarred the exercise of his 
episcopal functions, the bishop retired to the village of Heigham 
near Norwich, and there ended in privacy and comparative neglect 
the life which had been devoted to the service of his Maker, and 
the spiritual improvement of his fellow men. The place retains 
but few traces of him. The editor has himself visited it, and has 
taken pains to note down such particulars as seem likely to in- 
terest those into whose hands these volumes may chance to fall. 

The house in which the bishop resided is now a public house 
under the sign of the Dolpbin. Two old pillars of the gateway 
still remain. Over the front door appears the following : 

R. B. J 587. and apparently a monogram of R. B. 

On an upper bay window on one side A NO * DNI. On a corre- 
sponding window on the other side, 1615. On a gable the 
following : 


15 9 5. 
Under the porch over the door a grotesque head of a dolphin. 
By a side door on the left through the gateway is either a 
niche for holy water, or a piscina with a canopy over it. On 
entering the door to the left is a piscina more elaborately carved. 
At the foot of the staircase is a lion carved in oak. On the 

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ground floor to the right is a handsome oak room with folding 

black oak doors, and five heads in five different compartments. 

In the village church on the south wall is a mural monument, 

with a gilded figure of Death holding two scrolls, on one of which 

are the words, 

" Debemus morti nos nostraque." 

On the other, 

" Persolvit et quietus est." 

Below is the following inscription : 

" Obiit 8. Septern.* 

Ano aerse Christians 


jEtat suxe 82." 

At the bottom, 

" Josephus Hallus olim huilis ecclesi© servus." 

On a plain slab in the nave is the following inscription : 
" Induviae Josephi Hall, olim Norvicensis Ecclesiae servi, repo- 
sitae 8 V0 die mensis Septembris, anno Domini 1656, aetatis suae 
8 2 . Vale, lector ! et aeternitati prospice !" Near the altar is the 
following inscription: M. S. "Mrs. Elizabeth, the deare and ver- 
tuous consort of Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, with whom she 
comfortably lived 48 years, chaunged this mortall life for an 
eternall, Aug. 27, 1652, in the year of her age 69. Farewell, 
reader ! and mind eternitie P A modern pew has been permitted 
to cover a part of both inscriptions. The words cut off are sup- 
plied from Blomefield's history of Norfolk. 

In the parish register are the following entries, viz. 

Anno Dom 1656. 

Sepult. Joseph Hall late Bishoppe of Norwich 

was buried Sept. the 8 th . 1656. 


The wife of Doct r . Joseph Hall late 

Bishop of Norwich buried 28 th August. 

* [It will be observed that the date — it is said to have arisen from the cir- 

of the Bishop's death and burial on the comstance of his friends haying previ- 

monument and in the register is the ously buried him with the rites of the 

same, viz. Sept. 8. This inconsistency church.] 
can only be accounted for by conjecture : 

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The foregoing are, I believe, all the traces to be found at 
Heigham connected with the bishop's sojourn in that village ; but 
in the choir of Norwich cathedral is still to be seen a memorial of 
the bishop's youngest son, no doubt sketched by the parent's 
hand, of which the following is a copy : 

Cultissimi ingenii, speique eximi® neo-geronti, Edoardo Hallo, 
Josephi filio natu miniino, Artium Professori, Theologiae Candi- 
dato pio et supra »tatem docto 

Posuere moesti P. P. 

Tantum erat. Vale Lector, et »ternitatem cogita. 

Obiit in Vigiliis nati Salvatoris anno 1642. aetatis vero su» 23. 

To this notice it may be proper to append the following ex- 
tract from the " Supplemental Paragraphs of Biography " annexed 
to Mr. Peter Hall's edition, vol. xii. p. 444, and also some few 
passages of Mr. Whitefoot's Funeral Sermon upon the Bishop, 
derived from the same source, more immediately illustrating the 
character and habits of Bishop Hall.] 

From the Supplemental Paragraphs of Biography. 
The Bishop married in 1603 ; and lost his wife in 1652. Out 
of a large family, he seems to havo had three sons ordained to the 
ministry of the church. Of these, his eldest son Robert was born 
at Halsted in 1605 ; educated at Exeter college, Oxford ; became 
a Prebendary of Exeter cathedral ; Rector of Stokeintinny [Stoke- 
inteignhead], and of Clisthydon [Clysthydon], Devon; and Arch- 
deacon of Cornwall.— The second, Samuel, held also a prebendal 
stall at Exeter, and succeeded his elder brother in the rectory of 
Stokeintinny.— The third, George, was born at Waltham 5 edu- 
cated at Exeter college ; became, in 1639, a Probendary of Exeter 
cathedral ; and, in 1641, succeeded his oldest brother in the 
archdeaconry of Cornwall: during the usurpation of Cromwell 
he preached in London, by allowance of the Protector, sometimes 
at St. Bartholomew's Exchange, and sometimes at St. Botolph's, 

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Aldersgate. After the Restoration he was appointed Chaplain 
to King Charles the Second, Canon of Windsor, and Archdeacon 
of Canterbury ; and in 1662 was consecrated to the see of 
Chester. He preached in 1655 the first sermon for the Corpo- 
ration of the Sons of the Clergy; he also published a curious 
volume entitled ' The Triumphs of Rome over despised Protes- 
tancy/ Lond. 1667, izmo. The manner of his death was rather 
singular : he was killed in 1668 by a knife which happened to be 
open in his pocket, when he fell in his garden at Wigan. — In 
Norwich Cathedral (Magna Britannia, iii. 316.) is a monument to. 
another son, Edward, the youngest, who died in 1642. — And in 
Heigham Church (Blomefield's Norfolk, in loco) once was (but no 
longer is) a stone inscribed to another son, John, who died in 
1650. The inscription, probably from the pen of the father, was, 
" Ftii Johannes Hall, Josephi filius, in Legibus Baccalaureus : 
dormivi suaviter in Domino, Feb. 12, anno Salutis, 1650, resur- 
Tectums olim in gloria" This was some years ago, according 
to Mr. Jones, the stepping-stone of a stile in the churchyard. — 
There was yet another son, named, after his father, Joseph, who, 
as well as Robert, Samuel, and George, survived their parents, 
but died without issue. There were also two daughters, both of 
whom married, and left families. — H. 

Passages from a sermon, of which the title is, " I2PAHA ArXI- 
0ANH2 : Death's Alarum, or the Presage of approaching Death; 
given in a Funeral Sermon, preached at St. Peter's, Norwich, 
Sept. 30, 1656, for the Right Rev. Joseph Hall, D. D. late Lord 
Bishop of Norwich ; who, upon the 8th day of Sept. 1656, Anno 
JEtatis suae 82, was gathered to the Spirits of the Just made 
perfect. By John Whitefoot, M. A. Rector of Heigham, near 
Norwich/' Lond. (2d ed.) 1657, i2mo. — H. 

Genesis xlvii. 29. — And the time drew nigh that Israel must die. 
[In this sermon a parallel is drawn between the Patriarch 
Jacob and the deceased Bishop.] 

I have now done with my text: but, as I told you, I have 

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whitefoot's funeral sermon. lxxiii 

another to take in hand, and ye all know it. Bat something I 
must tell you, which perhaps you know not, by way of preface 
to what is to be spoken concerning that reverend person whose 
memory we are now to solemnize : namely, that it was a strict 
charge of his own, given to his son, whom he made his executor, 
and inserted into his last will, that he should be buried privately, 
without any solemnity : which order was agreeable to his known 
singular modesty and humility. And lest we should seem to 
transgress that command which we have thus made public, I must 
also tell you, that upon entreaty his consent was obtained for a 
sermon to be preached for him after his funeral. 

Having then obeyed his first order in the day of his funeral, 
which was as private as could be, we think we are nevertheless 
obliged, justa faeere, to do him some right in the interest of his 
name : and I heartily wish there had been one appointed that 
had been better able to do it ... . 

Two years together he was chosen Rhetoric Professor in the 
university of Cambridge, and performed the office with extraor- 
dinary applause. 

He was noted for a singular wit from his youth ; a most acute 
rhetorician, and an elegant poet. He understood many tongues ; 
and in the rhetoric of his own he was second to none that lived in 
his time. 

.... So was our father a priest, and that of the higher order ; 
a seer, a prophet, and a father of the prophets ; one that always 
made it his business to see and search into the things of God, with 
a zealous diligence rather than a bold curiosity. He was one 
that conversed as much with God, and drew as nigh to Him in 
divine meditation, which is the only ordinary way of seeing God 
in the flesh, as any man of his time. ... A great master he 
was, and one of the first that taught this church the art of divine 
meditation. Few men of his age have ascended so high upon 
Jacob's ladder as he did : he was one that, with Israel, lived and 
died in a Goshen of light, in the midst of Egyptian darkness. 

Secondly, he was a right upright man too before God, a true 
Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile ; b* i^;, Rectus Dei, &* 
on, as was said of Israel. Vir antiqua probitate simplicitateque 
prceditus, et eruditis pietate, et piis eruditionis laude antecel- 

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lens; ita secundas doctrincef evens, ut pietatis primas obtineret, 
as Nazianzen saith of Basil. Those that were most eminent for 
learning, he excelled in piety,* and those that were most famous 
for piety, he excelled in learning. This high priest's breast was 
richly adorned with the glorious OWm, and with the more pre- 
cious jewel of the Thummim. 

Thirdly, he was one that wrestled with God much and often in 
prayer, and prevailed much : and if we be yet capable of the 
blessing, I hope we shall one day enjoy the fruit of those prayers, 
wherein he wrestled with God for this poor church 

We will now go on with the parallel of the persons. Israel was 
a smooth man of body, as himself saith ; (Gen. xxxii. 1 1 ;) and a 
man of a plain, even, and modest spirit, as appeared by his scruples 
that he made about the way that his mother directed him to get 
his father's blessing. Such an one was our father, a man of a 
smooth, terse wit and tongue, and of a calm, gentle, meek, and 
moderate spirit, as they all know that know anything of him : 
irpaos, &6pyrjro9, ydKrjvbs t6 cfto?, $€p^s rb irpcfyia, as Nazianzen 
saith of Ccesarius ; a man of a mild, serene, and calm aspect, 
(who ever saw it ruffled into any appearance of disorderly pas- 
■ sion ?) and of a quick and lively spirit. He was not twice a child, 
(though he lived long enough to have been so,) but always one 
in our Saviour's sense, namely, in humility and innocence : one 
that much excelled in those dovelike fruits of the Spirit, which 
St. Paul mentions, (Gal. v. 22,) love, joy, peace, longmffering, 
gentleness, goodness, meekness, &c : as loving and as much be- 
loved as any man of his order in the three nations : one that got 
the birthright from heaven, and the blessing from men too, with- 
out dissembling for it ; whilst other rough Esaus were hunting 
abroad for wild venison, thinking to please their father, he stayed 
quietly at home, and observing the directions of his mother, the 
church, went away smooth with the venison. Some strugglings 
he had with his rougher brethren, whom he did not strive so 
much to supplant, as to supple with his smooth moderation and 
humility : and so far he prevailed in this design, as that instead 
of ill words or knocks, he met with a kiss and respectful em- 
bracement from many of them that had been his adversaries 
because they envied him the birthright of his order and dignity ; 

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whitefoot's fuhebal sermon. lxxv 

and all men honoured the Doctor, though some loved not the 

.... He travelled with persons of honour into France, Germany, 
Holland, and Scotland ; and God was ever with him, wherever he 
went, as he was with Israel. Some troubles and perils he met 
with in his journeys, as Jacob did, when Laban pursued him with 
one troop, and Esau met him with another. But a kind Provi- 
dence was ever ready to redeem him; and God hath always 
holpen his servant Israel. 

«... Whilst he was the private pastor first of Halstead in Suffolk, 
and after of Waltham in Essex, he preached thrice a week in a 
constant course : yet, as himself witnessed, " never durst climb up 
into the pulpit to preach any sermon, whereof he had not before 
penned every word in the same order wherein he hoped to deliver 
it ; although in his expressions he was no slave to syllables, 
neither made use of his notes." 

Nor did his industry either cease, or so much as abate, at his 
preferments. He hath given the world as good an account of his 
time as any man in it ; as one that knew the value of time, and 
esteemed the loss of it more than a temporal loss, because it hath 
a necessary influence upon eternity. It is well known in this city 
how forward he was to preach in any of our churches, till he was 
first forbidden by men, and at last disabled by God. 

And when he could not preach himself as oft and as long as he 
was able, this learned Gamaliel was not content only, but very 
diligent, to sit at the feet of the. youngest of his disciples ; as dili- 
gent an hearer as he had been a preacher. How oft have we seen 
him walking alone, like old Jacob with his staff, to Bethel, the 
house of God ! 

.... He was indeed a rare mirror of patience under all his 
crosses, which toward his latter end were multiplied upon him. ' The 
loss of his estate he seemed insensible of, as if he had parted with all 
with as good content as Jacob did with a good part of his to pacify 
his angry brother, having well learned as well to want as to 
abound. I have heard him oft bewail the spoils of the church, 
but very rarely did he so much as mention his own losses, but 
took joyfully the spoiling of his goods 

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Of late years, and especially the last, he was sorely afflicted 
with bodily diseases, and bore them all with as much patience as 
hath been seen in any flesh, except that of our Saviour. We have 
heard of the patience of Job, but never saw a fairer copy of it 
than was in this man 

When his time drew nigh that he must die, he much longed 
for death, and was ready to bid it welcome, and spake always very 
kindly of it. It was an odd word of St. Francis, when the physi- 
cians told him the time of death drew nigh, Bene veniat, inquit, 
8oror mors, Welcome, my sister death. The expression of Job is 
not much unlike, (Job. xvii. 14,) I have said to corruption, Thou 
art my father : to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my 
sister : so did this good man welcome death, as if he had been to 
embrace a mother or a sister. He took good notice of the ap- 
proach of death, and set his house in order as Israel did, by dis- 
tributing tbe blessings that God had left him to his children. He 
endeavoured also to prepare others for that change by his last 
books and last sermons that he preached, which were all upon 
the last things, death and judgment, heaven and hell. .... 

The streights of time both for preparing and delivering this 
testimony of his life, hath enforced me to pass over the particulars 
of his preferments, dignities, and honourable employments by his 
prince ; amongst which, that to the synod of Dort would not else 
have been forgotten : especially for the great respect he had there 
from the foreign divines and states. And his excellent moderation 
showed in those unhappy disputes, concerning which he afterward 
drew up such a collection of accorded truths as was offered to be 
subscribed by some of the most eminent parties on both sides : 
which reconciliatory papers, then unhappily buried, are very much 
to be desired, and may be hoped for in time, together with a 
completer account of his life written by himself. But what- 
ever becomes of them, he was one whose moderation was known 
to all men; and his zeal for an holy peace in the church is 
abundantly manifested by those writings of his which are already 

I cannot so much as mention all his virtues, but must not forget 
so great an one as that of his charity ; which above and before 

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whitefoot's funeral sermon. Ixxvii 

all things, as the two great apostles exhort a , he was careful to put 
on. Besides his spiritual alms of prayers, godly admonitions, com- 
forts, and holy counsels, whereof he was very liberal, his bodily 
alms were constant and bountiful. In the parish where he last 
lived, he gave a weekly voluntary contribution of money to certain 
poor widows to his dying day, over and above his imposed rates, 
wherein he was never spared. And as the widow's handful of 
meal and her cruse of oil did not waste by feeding the old pro- 
phet; so did this prophet's barrel that was low, and his cruse 
that was little, not hold out only, but seemed to increase by feed- 
ing the widows, as appeared by that liberal addition of alms which 
he gave by his will to the town where he was born, and to this 

city where he died 

Follow the steps of his holy life, and the instructions of his 
godly books ; learn of Israel and of this parallel father to prize the 
spiritual birthright above any present fleshly enjoyments, and to 
wrestle with God for it in prayer : meditate much and often of 
heaven and heavenly things as he did; imitate him in his holy 
vows, and be careful to pay them: follow, I say, the steps of 
his faith and charity, and you cannot miss of such an end. For 
as many as walk according to this rule, peace shall be upon 
them, and upon the Israel of God. Ames. 

[Transcript of the Will of Bishop Hall. 

Communicated to the Editor by Richard Sainthill, Esq. of Cork. 

In the name of God Amen. I Joseph Hall, Dr. of Divinity (not 
worthy to be called B. of Norwich) considering the uncertainty of 
life, have thought much in the state of wonted health to make my 
last Will and Testament in manner following. 

First I bequeath my Soule into the hands of my Faithful Creator 
and Redeemer, not doubting but he will receive it to mercy and 
crowne it with glorie. 

» 'Eirl wafft, CoL iii. 14. irpb nbrwv, 1 Pet. iv. 8. 

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My Body I leave to be interred w*hout any funerall pompe, at 
the discretion of my executor, V th this onely monition, that I do 
not hold God's house a mete repositorie for the dead bodyes of the 
greatest Saint. My worldly estate I will to be thus disposed : 

Imprimis, my house and grounde w 01 the appurtenances lying 
and being within the city of Exeter, neare to the South gate of the 
said city, I give my eldest Sonne, Robert Hall Dr. of Divinity, 
and to his Heirs for ever. To my Sonne Joseph I give and be- 
queath (having surrendered* into the hands of Mr. Reve of Wal- 
tham, Steward by Patent to the Right Noble the Earle of Carlisle, 
all my Coppy holds with the mannor of Swardston to the use of my 
last Will) all my Coppyhold lands and tenements lying and being 
in Swardston wthin the Parish of Waltham holy Crosse, to have 
and to hold to him and his heres for ever. Likewise to my Sonne 
Joseph I give and bequeath the remainder of years which I have 
from my late deare Lord of Norwich in a Tenement lying in the 
said Waltham, over against the Church there, wherein Marmaduke 
How now dwelleth. 

Moreover to my Sonne Joseph I give and bequeath all that free 
land with the appurtenances w h I have in Much Bently in the 
County of Essex w th the edifices thereto belonging. And whereas 
I am informed that the custome of that Mannor is such that the 
Coppyhold lands, except they be formerly surrendered into the 
hands of the Tenants to other uses, Do in course descend upon the 
youngest Sonne, my will is that my Sonne Samuel (upon whom it 
will fall) doe speedily surrender that Coppyhold and the Tenements 
thereto belonging to the use and behoof of my said Sonne Joseph 
and his heres for ever. 

Item. To my Sonne George I give and bequeath all those 
lands and Tenements which I have and possess in Mulbartin and 
the parts adjacent, now in the occupacon of my Tenant John 
Money, to have and to hold to him and his heires for ever. Also 
to my said Sonne George I give and bequeath all that terme and 
remainder of years which I have in the dwelling-house wherein I 
now remain and the groundes thereto belonging, with all the ap- 

• Entered into the Court Rolls at the Court Baron held July 13. 1649. 

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purtenances, to be entered by him within three months after my 

Provided always, and my will and charge is upon the blessing of 
a father to my said Sonnes, Robert, Joseph, and George, that 
(except they be necessitated by the times or the exigences of their 
own particular estate, for the true reality of which necessity I lay 
weight on their consciences in the Lord) that they do not alienate, 
sell or put away, lease or lett the said Lands and Tenements to 
them generally bequeathed, to the hands of strangers, but that 
(in case of their deceasing without issue) they leave the said lands 
and Tenements (after the life of their several wives) to the next 
Brother that hath issue, or to the Children of their Sister in 
default of such issue. 

To my Sonne Samuel Hall, whoe is yet only of all my sonnes 
blessed with any issue, I will and do give and bequeath all those 
my lands and tenements with their appurtenances situate, lying, 
and being in the Parish of Totnesse, in the County of Devon, all 
which 1 had of the purchase of Phillip Holditch the elder, of 
Totnes aforesaid, merchant, with the lands I bought there of 
Jeffry Barber, to have and to hold to him and his heires for ever. 
Provided always that he and his heires shall pay to my sonne-in- 
Law, Qascoigne Weld, the remainder of that manage portion 
wch is yet oweing by bond to him the said Gascoigne, and which 
shall appeare upon account still due unto him to make up that 
entire sum then agreed upon, which is well knowin my said ex- 
ecutor. Item, I give and bequeath to my sonne Samuel my 
Librarie, onely I will that my sonnes Robert and George (whom 
I know to be well furnished in that kinde) shall have the selection 
of twenty bookes betwixt them, wch they shall pitch upon ; for my 
paper bookes I will that those which contayne the notes of my 
Sermons shall be divided betwixt my Sonnes Robert and George, 
the rest of them I bequeath to my Sonne Samuel. 

Withall my will is, that the papers in my little black Trunke, 
conteyninge letters of intercourse with forreine Divines and some 
sermons and tractates, shall not be medled with or desposed with- 
out the joint consent of my said three Sonnes, whom 1 thank God 
I have lived to see learned judicious and painful Divines. 

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To my Son-in-Law Mr. Dr. Peterson, Deane of Exeter, I give 
that curious flappe which was given me by Mr. Rawlins, and one 
faire gilt bowle with a coyer for a remembrance of my deare af- 
fection to him. 

My Golden Medall which was given me by the States of the 
Netherlands for my applause at the Synode of Dort, I give and 
bequeath to the male issue of any one of my Sonnes (if any such 
be) according to the order of their birth, or in default thereof to 
Joseph Weld, the Sonne of my Daughter, as a memorial of that 
worthy employment. 

Moreover to my Sonne Robert Hall I give two hundred pounds, 
and to him and his worthy Consort, I give and bequeath one fair 
gilt Basen and Ewre of Noremburgh worke. To my Sonne Joseph 
I give two hundred pounds; To my Sonne George Hall I give 
two hundred pounds; To my Grandchildren the Sonnes and 
Daughters of my Sonne Weld, I give to each twenty pounds ; To 
my Grandchilde Elizabeth Hall I give three hundred pounds ; To 
my Grandchilde Mary Hall I give one hundred pounds. To each 
of my servants that shall be dwelling with me at the time of my 
decease I give three pounds ; To Margaret Hatley I give twenty 
pounds ; To Peregrine Pond I give twenty pounds ; To the Poor 
of Higham I give ten pounde to be distributed according to the 
discretion of the Churchwardens and Overseers; To the use and 
benefit of the poore of Ashby de La Zouch I give thirty pounds, 
to be paid within three months after my decease ; To the poore of 
Norwich twenty pounds. Divers other particular Legacyes there 
are which I bequeath to several persons conteyned in a schedule 
hereto annexed, signed with my hande and seale, which I require 
and charge my executor to see carefully and punctually performed. 
And of this my last Will and Testament, conteyned in two sheets 
of paper, I doe make and ordaine my Sonne Samuel Hall my full, 
lawful and sole Executor, not doubting of his true fidelity therein ; 
and doe desire and appoint my beloved. Sonne-in-Law, Gascoigne 
Weld, and my loving friend and neighbour Mr. George Bayfield, 
to be overseers thereof, giving to my said Sonne my Golden Medall 
wch was given me by Mrs. Goodwin ; and to Mr. Bayfield one piece 
of plate, vizt. one Silver Tankard. And that this my last Will 

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and Testament I do publish and declare, subscribing* the same 
and affixing my seale manuel this 24 th day of July in the year of 
oar Lord God 1654. 

Jos. Hall, B. N. 

Published, Signed and Sealed in the prsence of us Geo : 
Bayfield, Peregrine Pond, Edmond Camplin, Margaret Hatley, 
Athanasius Ferrer, John Reeve. 

Memor, that all the words inserted or altered in the several 
places of this Will are written and done by my owne hand, and 
are by me accordingly published as part of my will, April 28, 1656. 
In the prsence of Peregrine Pond, Margaret Hatley, Edmond 

Jos. Hall, B. N.] 


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by the good providence of ood, kino of great britain, france, 

and ireland, the most worthy and most able defender 

of the faith, and most gracious patron of the 

church ; all peace and happiness. 

Most Gracious Sovereign, 

I cannot so over love this issue of my own brain* as to hold it 
worthy of your Majesty's judicious eyes, much less of the highest patronage 
under heaven : yet now, my very duty hath bidden me look so high, and tells 
me it would be no less than injurious if I should not lay down my work 
where 1 owe my service; and that I should offend, if I presumed not. 
Besides, whither should the rivers run but into the sea? It is to your 
Majesty (under the Highest) that we owe both these sweet opportunities of 
good, and all the good fruits of these happy opportunities : if we should not 
therefore freely offer to your Majesty some preemetial handfuls of that crop, 
whereof you may challenge the whole harvest, how could we be but shame- 
lessly unthankful ? I cannot praise my present, otherwise than by the truth 
of that heart from which it proceedeth : only this I may say, that seldom any 
man hath offered to your royal hands a greater bundle of his own thoughts, 
(some whereof, as it must needs fall out amongst so many, have been con- 
fessed profitable,) nor perhaps more variety of discourse. For here shall your 
Majesty find Morality, like a good handmaid, waiting on Divinity; and 
Divinity, like some great lady, every day in several dresses : speculation 
interchanged with experience ; positive theology with polemical ; textual 
with discursory; popular with scholaatical. 

I cannot dissemble my joy to have done this little good : and if it be the 
comfort and honour of your unworthy servant that the God of heaven hath 

a This is the original Dedication, prefixed to the first volume of the works, 
[A. D. 1615], when collected by the author in folio. — H. 

f 2 

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vouchsafed to use his hand in the least service of his church, bow can it be 
but your crown and rejoicing, that the same God hath set apart your Majesty 
as a glorious instrument of such an universal good to the whole Christian 
world ? It was a mad conceit of that old heresiarch b , which might justly 
take his name from madness, that an huge giant bears up the earth with 
his shoulder, which he changes every thirtieth year for ease, and with 
the removal causes an earthquake. If by this device he had meant only 
an emblem of kings, (as our ancient mycologists, under their Saint George, 
and Christopher, have described the Christian soldier, and good pastor,) 
he had not done amiss : for surely the burden of the whole world lies on 
the shoulders of sovereign authority ; and it is no marvel if the earth quake 
in the change. As kings are to the world, so are good kings to the church. 
None can be so blind or envious as not to grant that the whole church of 
God upon earth rests herself principally (next to her stay above) upon your 
Majesty's royal supportation : you may truly say with David, Ego tustimeo 
columnas ejus. What wonder is it then, if our tongues and pens bless you ; 
if we be ambitious of all occasions that may testify our cheerful gratulations 
of this happiness to your highness, and ours in you ? Which our humble 
prayers unto Him by whom kings reign, shall labour to continue, till both 
the earth and heavens be truly changed. 

The unworthiest of your 

Majesty's servants, 


b [Manes-Epiphan. Contra Haeres. lib. ii. torn. a.] 

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BP. BALL, VOL. t. 

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Most gracious Prince, — This work of mine, which, if my hopes and desires 
foil me not, time may hereafter make great, I have presumed both to dedicate 
in whole to your Highness, and to parcel out in severals unto subordinate 
hands. It is no marvel if books have this freedom, when we ourselves can 
and ought to be all yours, while we are our own and others' under you. I 
dare say, these meditations, how rude soever they may fall from my pen, in 
regard of their subject are fit for a prince. Here your Highness shall see how 
the great pattern of princes, the King of Heaven, hath ever ruled the world ; 
how his substitutes, earthly kings, have ruled it under him, and with what 
success either of glory or ruin. Both your peace and war shall find here 
holy and great examples. And if history and observation be the best coun- 
sellors of your youth, what story can be so wise and faithful as that which 
God hath written for men, wherein you see both what hath been done, and 
what should be i What observation so worthy as that which is both raised 
from God, and directed to him ? If the propriety [property] which your Highness 
justly hath in the work and author, may draw your princely eyes and heart the 
rather to these holy speculations, your servant shall be happier in this favour 
than in all your outward bounty ; as one to whom your spiritual progress 
deserves to be dearer than his own life ; and whose daily suit is, that God 
would guide your steps aright in this slippery age, and continue to rejoice all 
good hearts in the view of your gracious proceedings. 

Your Highneas's humbly devoted servant, 


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Right Honourable, — I knew I could not bestow my thought better than 
upon God's own history, so full of edification and delight : which I have in 
such sort endeavoured to do, that I shall give occasion to my reader of some 
meditations, which perhaps he would have missed. Every help in this kind 
deserves to be precious. I present the first part to your honour, wherein you 
shall see the world both made and smothered again : man in the glory of his 
creation, and the shame of his fall : paradise at once made and lost : the first 
man killing his seed, the second his brother. If in these I shall give light to 
the thoughts of any reader, let him with me give the praise to Him from whom 
that light shone forth to me. To whose grace and protection I humbly com- 
mend your lordship, as 

Your honour's unfeignedly devoted, in all observance and duty, 


THE CREATION.— Genesis i. 

What can I soe, O God, in thy creation, but miracles of won- 
ders? Thou madest something of nothing, and of that something, 
all things. Thou, which wast without a beginning, gavest a be- 
ginning to time, and to the world in time. It is the praise of ua 
men if, when we have matter, we can give fashion : thou gavest a 
being to the matter, without form ; thou gavest a form to that 
matter, and a glory to that form. If we can but finish a slight 
and imperfect matter according to a former pattern, it is the 
height of our skill : but to begin that which never was, whereof 
there was no example, whereto there was no inclination, wherein 
there was no possibility of that which it should be, is proper 
* Son of W. Cecil, lord Burleigh, created earl of Exeter 1605. 

B 2 

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4 The Creation. book i. 

only to such power as thine; the infinite power of an infinite 
Creator: with us, not so much as a thought can arise without 
some matter ; but here with thee, all matter arises from nothing. 
How easy is it for thee to repair all out of something, which 
couldst thus fetch all out of nothing ! Wherein can we now dis- 
trust thee, that hast proved thyself thus omnipotent? Behold: 
to have made the least clod of nothing, is more above wonder, 
than to multiply a world ; but now the matter doth not more 
praise thy power, than the form thy wisdom: what beauty is 
here ! what order ! what order in working, what beauty in the 
work I 

Thou mightest have made all the world perfect in an instant, 
but thou wouldst not. That will, which caused thee to create, is 
reason enough why thou didst thus create. How should we deli- 
berate in our actions, which are so subject to imperfection I since 
it pleased thine infinite perfection, not out of need, to take leisure. 
Neither did thy wisdom herein proceed in time only, but in de- 
grees : at first thou madest nothing absolute ; first, thou madest 
things which should have being without life; then, those which 
should have life and being ; lastly, those which have being, life, 
reason : so we ourselves, in the ordinary course of generation, 
first live the life of vegetation, then of sense, of reason after- 
wards. That instant wherein the heaven and the earth were 
created in their rude matter, there was neither day nor light, but 
presently thou madest both light and day. While we have this 
example of thine, how vainly do we hope to be perfect at once ! 
It is well for us, if through many degrees we can rise to our 

But, alas ! what was the very heaven itself without light? how 
confused I how formless ! like to a goodly body without a soul, 
like a soul without thee. Thou art light, and in thee is no dark- 
ness. Oh how incomprehensibly glorious is the light that is in 
thee, since one glimpse of this created light gave so lively a glory 
to all thy workmanship ! This, even the brute creatures can be- 
hold ; that, not the very angels. That shines forth only to the 
other supreme world of immortality, this to the basest part of thy 
creation. There is one cause of our darkness on earth, and of the 
utter darkness in hell; the restraint of thy light. Shine thou, O 
God, into the vast corners of my soul, and in thy light I shall see 

But whence, God, was that first light? The sun was not 

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cowt. i. The Creation. 5 

made till the fourth day ; light, the first. If man had been, he 
might have seen all lightsome ; bat whence it had come he could 
not have seen ; as in some great pond, we see the banks full, we 
see not the springs from whence that water riaeth. Thou madest 
the sun, madest the light without the sun, before the sun, that 
so light might depend upon thee, and not upon thy creature. 
Thy power will not be limited to means. It was easy to thee to 
make an heaven without a sun, light without an heaven, day 
without a sun, time without a day : it is good reason thou shouldst 
be the lord of thine own works. All means serve thee ; why do 
we weak wretches distrust thee, in the want of those means, 
which thou canst either command or forbear? How plainly 
wouldst thou teach us, that we creatures need not one another, 
so long as we have thee ! One day we shall have light again 
without the sun. Thou shalt be our sun ; thy presence shall be 
our light : light is sown for the righteous. The sun and light is 
but for the world below itself; thine only for above. Thou 
givest this light to the sun, which the sun gives to the world : 
that light, which thou shalt once give us, shall make us shine like 
the sun in glory. 

Now this light which for three days was thus dispersed through 
the whole heavens, it pleased thee at last to gather and unite into 
one body of the sun. The whole heaven was our sun, before the 
sun was created : but now one star must be the treasury of light 
to the heaven and earth* How thou lovest the union and reduc- 
tion of all things of one kind to their own head and centre ! So 
the waters most by thy command be gathered into one place, the 
sea ; so the upper waters must be severed by these airy limits 
from the lower : so heavy substances hasten downward, and light 
mount up ; so the general light of the first days must be called 
into the compass of one sun ; so thou wilt once gather thine elect, 
from all coasts of heaven, to the participation of one glory. Why 
do we abide our thoughts and affections scattered from thee, from 
thy saints, from thine anointed ? Oh let this light, which thou 
hast now spread abroad in the hearts of all thine, once meet in 
thee; we are as thy heavens in this their first imperfection; be 
thou our sun, unto which our light may be gathered. 

Yet this light was by thee interchanged with darkness, which 
thou mightest as easily have commanded to be perpetual. The 
continuance, even of the best things, cloyeth and wearieth : there 
is nothing but thyself wherein there is not satiety. So pleasing 

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6 The Creation. book i. 

is the vicissitude of things, that the intercourse even of those oc- 
currents which in their own nature are less worthy, gives more 
contentment, than the unaltered estate of better. The day dies 
into night, and rises into the morning again, that we might not 
expect any stability here below, but in perpetual successions : it 
is always day with thee above ; the night savoureth only of mor- 
tality : why are we not here spiritually as we shall be hereafter ? 
Since thou hast made us children of the light, and of the day, 
teach us to walk ever in the light of thy presence, not in the 
darkness of error and unbelief. 

Now in this thine enlightened frame, how fitly, how wisely are 
all the parts disposed, that the method of the creation might an* 
swer the matter, and the form both ! Behold all purity above ; 
below, the dregs and lees of all. The higher I go, the more per- 
fection ; each element superior to other, not more in place than 
dignity ; that by these stairs of ascending perfection our thoughts 
might climb unto the top of all glory, and might know thine im- 
perial heaven no less glorious above the visible, than those above 
the earth. Oh how miserable is the place of our pilgrimage, in 
respect of our home ! Let my soul tread a while in the steps of 
thine own proceedings ; and so think, as thou wroughtest : when 
we would describe a man, we begin not at the feet but the 
head : the head of thy creation is the heaven, how high I how 
spacious! how glorious I It is a wonder that we can look up 
to so admirable a height, and that the very eye is not tired in 
the way. If this ascending line could be drawn right forwards, 
some, that have calculated curiously, have found it five hundred 
years' journey unto the starry heaven. I do not examine their 
art; Lord, I wonder rather at thine, which hast drawn so 
large a line about this little point of earth : for in the plainest 
rules of art and experience, the compass must needs be six times 
as much as half the height. We think one island great, but the 
earth immeasurable. If we were in that heaven with these eyes, 
the whole earth, were it equally enlightened, would seem as little 
to us, as now the least star in the firmament seems to us upon 
earth : and, indeed, how few stars are so little as it I And yet 
how many void and ample spaces are there beside all the stars I 
The hugeness of this thy work, God, is little inferior for 
admiration to the majesty of it. 

But, oh I what a glorious heaven is this, which thou bast spread 
oyer our heads! With how precious a vault hast thou walled 

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cont. i. The Creation. 7 

in this our inferior world ! What worlds of light hast thou set 
above us! Those things, which we see, are wondrous; but 
those, which we believe and see not, are yet more. Thou dost 
but set out these unto view, to shew us what there is within. 
How proportionable are thy works to thyself ! Kings erect not 
cottages, but set forth their magnificence in sumptuous build- 
ings : so hast thou done, O King of Glory. If the lowest pave* 
ment of that heaven of thine be so glorious, what shall we think 
of the better parts yet unseen ? And if this sun of thine be of 
such brightness and majesty, Oh what is the glory of the Maker 
of it ? And yet if some other of thy stars were let down as low 
as it, those other stars would be suns to us ; which now thou 
hadst rather have admired in their distance. And if such a 
sky be prepared for the use and benefit even of thine enemies 
also upon earth, how happy shall those eternal tabernacles be, 
which thou hast sequestered for thine own ! 

Behold then in this high and stately building of thine, I see 
three stages ; this lowest heaven for fowls, for vapour, for me- 
teors : the second, for the stars : the third, for thine angels and 
saints. The first is thine outward court, open for all : the se- 
cond is the body of thy covered temple, wherein are those candles 
of heaven perpetually burning : the third is thy holy of holies. 
In the first is tumult and vanity : in the second, immutability 
and rest : in the third, glory and blessedness. The first we feel ; 
the second we see ; the third we believe. In these two lower 
is no felicity; for neither the fowls nor stars are happy. It 
is in the third heaven alone, where thou, O blessed Trinity, en- 
joyest thyself, and thy glorified spirits enjoy thee. It is the 
manifestation of thy glorious presence that makes Heaven to be 
itself. This is the privilege of thy children: that they here 
seeing thee, which art invisible, by the eye of faith, have already 
begun that heaven, which the perfect sight of thee shall make 
perfect above. 

Let my soul then let these heavens alone, till it may see, as it 
is seen : that we may descend to this lowest and meanest region 
of heaven, wherewith our senses are more acquainted. What 
marvels do even here meet with us ! There are thy clouds, thy 
bottles of rain ; vessels as thin as the liquor which is contained 
in them : there they hang, and move, though weighty with their 
burden : how they are upheld, and why they fall, here and now, 
we know not, and wonder. These thou makest one while, as 

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8 The Creation. book i. 

some airy seas to hold water : another while, as some airy fur- 
naces whence thou scatterest the sudden fires unto all parts of 
the earth, astonishing the world with the fearful noise of that 
eruption ; out of the midst of water thou fetchest fire, and hard 
stones out of the midst of thin vapours : another while, as some 
steel glasses, wherein the sun looks and shews his face in the 
variety of those colours which he hath not. There are thy 
streams of light, blazing and falling stars, fires darted up and 
down in many forms, hollow openings, and, as it were, gulfs in 
the sky, bright circles about the moon and other planets, snows, 
hail : in all which it is enough to admire thy hand, though we 
cannot search out thine action. There are thy subtle winds, 
which we hear and feel, yet neither can see their substance nor 
know their causes : whence and whither they pass, and what 
they are, thou knowest. There are thy fowls of all shapes, 
colours, notes, and natures: whilst I compare these with the 
inhabitants of that other heaven, I find those stars, and spirits 
like one another ; those meteors and fowls, in as many varieties, 
as there are several creatures. Why is this ! Is it because man, 
for whose sake these are made, delights in change; thou in 
constancy ? Or is it, that in these thou mayest shew thine own 
skill and their imperfection ? There is no variety in that which 
is perfect, because there is but one perfection ; and so much shall 
we grow nearer to perfectness, by how much we draw nearer to 
unity and uniformity. 

From thence, if we go down to the great deep, the womb of 
moisture, the well of fountains, the great pond of the world ; we 
know not whether to wonder at the element itself, or the guests 
which it contains. How doth that sea of thine roar, and foam, and 
swell, as if it would swallow up the earth ! Thou stayest the rage 
of it by an insensible violence ; and by a natural miracle confinest 
his waves ; why it moves, and why it stays, it is to us equally 
wonderful. What living mountains (such are thy whales) roll 
up and down in those fearful billows : for greatness of number, 
hugeness of quantity, strangeness of shapes, variety of fashions, 
neither air nor earth can compare with the waters. 

I say nothing of thy hid treasures, which thy wisdom hath 
reposed in the bowels of the earth and sea ; how secretly, and 
how basely are they laid up ! secretly, that we might not seek 
them ; basely, that we might not over esteem them : I need not 
dig so low as these metals, mineries, quarries, which yield riches 

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cont. i. The Creation. 9 

enough of observation to the soul ; how many millions of wonders 
doth the very face of the earth offer me ; which of these herbs, 
flowers, trees, leaves, seeds, fruits, is there; what beast, what 
worm, wherein we may not see the footsteps of a Deity ? wherein 
we may not read infiniteness of power, of skill : and must be 
forced to confess, that he, which made the angels and stars of 
heaven, made also the vermin on the earth ? O God, the heart 
of man is too strait to admire enough, even that which he 
treads upon. What shall we say to thee, the Maker of all these ? 
Lord, how wonderful are thy works in all the world! in 
wisdom hast thou made them all. And in all these thou spakest, 
and they were done. Thy will is thy word, and thy word is thy 
deed. Our tongue, and hand, and heart are different : all are 
one in thee ; which art simply one, and infinite. Here needed no 
helps, no instruments ; what could be present with the Eternal ? 
what needed, or what could be added to, the Infinite ? Thy hand 
is not shortened, thy word is still equally effectual ; say thou the 
word, and my soul shall be made new again : say thou the word, 
and my body shall be repaired from his dust. For all things 
obey thee, Lord I why do I not yield to the word of thy 
counsel ; since I must yield, as all thy creatures, to the word of 
thy command ? 

OF MAN.— Genesis i, ii. 

But, O God, what a little lord hast thou made over this great 
world I The least corn of sand is not so small to the whole earth, 
aa man is to the heaven: when I see the heavens, the sun, 
moon, and stars ; God, what is man ! who would think thou 
shouldst make all these creatures for one? and that one well 
near the least of all ? Tet none but he can see what thou hast 
done ; none but he can admire and adore thee in what he seeth ; 
how had he need to do nothing but this, since he alone must do 
it I Certainly, the price and virtue of things consist not in 
the quantity : one diamond is more worth than many quarries of 
stone, one loadstone hath more virtue than mountains of earth : 
It is lawful for us to praise thee in ourselves. 

All thy creation hath not more wonder in it, than one of us : 
other creatures thou madest by a simple command; man, not 
without a divine consultation: others at once; man thou didst 
first form, then inspire : others in several shapes like to none but 

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10 Of Man. book i. 

themselves ; man, after thine own image : others with qualities 
fit for service ; man, for dominion. Man had his name from 
thee ; they had their names from man. How should we be con- 
secrated to thee above all others, since thou hast bestowed more 
cost on us than others I 

What shall I admire first f thy providence in the time of our 
creation? or thy power and wisdom in the act? First, thou 
madest the great house of the world, and furnishedst it : then 
thou broughtest in thy tenant to possess it. The bare walls had 
been too good for us, but thy love was above our desert. Thou, 
that madest the earth ready for us before we were, hast by the 
same mercy prepared a place in heaven for us while we are on 
earth. The stage was first fully prepared, then was man brought 
forth thither, as an actor or spectator : that he might neither be 
idle nor discontent behold, thou hadst addressed an earth for 
use, and heaven for contemplation. 

After thou hadst drawn that large real map of the world, thou 
didst thus abridge it into this little table of man ; he alone con- 
sists of heaven and earth, soul and body. Even this earthly 
part, which is vile in comparison of the other ; as it is thine, 
God, I dare admire it, though I can neglect it as mine own ; 
for lo ! this heap of earth hath an outward reference to heaven : 
other creatures grovel down to their earth, and have all their 
senses intent upon it; this is reared up towards heaven, and 
hath no more power to look beside heaven, than to tread beside 
the earth. Unto this, every part hath his wonder. The head 
is nearest to heaven, as in place, so in resemblance; both for 
roundness of figure, and for those divine guests which have their 
seat in it ; there dwell those majestical powers of reason, which 
make a man; all the senses, as they have their original from 
thence, so they do all agree there to manifest their virtue : how 
goodly proportions hast thou set in the face! such as though 
ofttimes we can give no reason when they please, yet transport 
us to admiration. What living glasses are those which thou hast 
placed in the midst of this visage, whereby all objects from far 
are clearly represented to the mind ? and because their tender- 
ness lies open to dangers, how hast thou defended them with 
hollow bones, and with prominent brows and lids! And lest 
they should be too much bent on what they ought not, thou hast 
given them peculiar nerves to pull them up towards the seat of 
their rest. What a tongue hast thou given him, the instrument 

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cont. ii. Of Man. 11 

not of taste only, but of speech! How sweet and excellent 
voices are formed by that little loose film of flesh ? What an 
incredible strength hast thou given to the weak bones of the 
jaws! What a comely and tower-like neck; therefore most 
sinewy, because smallest I And lest I be infinite, what able arms 
and active hands hast thou framed him, whereby he can frame 
all things to his own conceit ! In every part, beauty, strength, 
convenience meet together. Neither is there any whereof our 
weakness cannot give reason, why it should be no otherwise. 
How hast thou disposed of all the inward vessels, for all offices 
of life, nourishment, egestion, generation I No vein, sinew, artery 
is idle. There is no piece in this exquisite frame, whereof the 
place, use, form, doth not admit wonder, and exceed it. 

Yet this body, if it be compared to the soul, what is it but as 
a day wall that encompasses a treasure; as a wooden box of a 
jeweller ; as a coarse case to a rich instrument ; or as a mask 
to a beautiful face ! Man was made last, because he was wor- 
thiest. The soul was inspired last, because yet more noble ! if 
the body have this honour to be the companion of the soul, yet 
withal it is the drudge. If it be the instrument, yet also the 
clog of that divine part : the companion for life, the drudge for 
service, the instrument for action, the clog in respect of contem- 
plation. These external works are effected by it, the internal, 
which are more noble, hindered; contrary to the bird, which 
sings most in her cage, but flies most and highest at liberty. 
This my soul teaches me of itself, that itself cannot conceive how 
capable, how active it is. It can pass by her nimble thoughts 
from heaven to earth in a moment: it can be all things, can 
comprehend all things; know that which is, and conceive that 
which never was, never shall be: nothing can fill it but thou 
which art infinite; nothing can limit it, but thou which art 
everywhere. God, which madest it, replenish it, possess it, 
dwell thou in it, which hast appointed it to dwell in clay. The 
body was made of earth common to his fellows, the soul inspired 
immediately from God. The body lay senseless upon the earth 
like itself : the breath of lives gave it what it is ; and that breath 
was from thee. Sense, motion, reason, are infused into it at 
once. From whence then was this quickening breath ? No air, 
no earth, no water was here used to give help to this work : thou, 
that breathedst upon man and gavest him the Holy Spirit, didst 
also breathe upon the body and gavest it a living spirit ; we are 

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12 Of Man. book i. 

beholden to nothing but thee for our soul. Our flesh is from 
flesh, our spirit is from the God of spirits. How should our 
souls rise up to thee, and fix themselves in their thoughts upon 
thee, who alone created them in their infusion, and infused 
them in their creation I How should they long to return back to 
the Fountain of their being, and Author of being glorious ! Why 
may we not say, that this soul, as it came from thee, so it is like 
thee ? as thou, so it, is one, immaterial, immortal, understanding 
spirit, distinguished into three powers, which all make up one 
spirit. So thou, the wise Creator of all things, wouldst have 
some things to resemble their Creator. These other creatures 
are all body ; man is body and spirit ; the angels are all spirit, 
not without a kind of spiritual composition ; thou art alone after 
thine own manner, simple, glorious, infinite ; no creature can be 
like tSee in thy proper being, because it is a creature; how 
should our finite, weak, compounded nature give any perfect re- 
semblance of thine ? Yet of all visible creatures thou vouchsafest 
man the nearest correspondence to thee: not so much in the 
natural faculties, as in those divine graces wherewith thou beau- 
tifiest his soul. 

Our knowledge, holiness, righteousness, was like the first copy 
from which they were drawn. Behold, we were not more like 
thee in these, than now we are unlike ourselves in their loss. O 
God, we now praise ourselves to our shame ; for the better we 
were, we are the worse ; as the sons of some prodigal or tainted 
ancestors tell of the lands and lordships which were once theirs. 
Only do thou whet our desires answerably to the readiness of thy 
mercies, that we may redeem what we have lost ; that we may 
recover in thee what we have lost in ourselves. The fault shall 
be ours, if our damage prove not beneficial. 

I do not find, that man, thus framed, found the want of a 
helper. His fruition of God gave him fulness of contentment ; 
the sweetness which he found in the contemplation of this new 
workmanship, and the glory of the Author, did so take him up, 
that he had neither leisure nor cause of complaint. If man had 
craved a helper, he had grudged at the condition of his creation, 
and had questioned that which he had; perfection of being. 
But he, that gave him his being, and knew him better than him- 
self, thinks of giving him comfort in the creature, whilst he 
sought none but in his Maker : he sees our wants, and forecasts 
our relief, when we think ourselves too happy to complain : how 

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cont. ii. Of Man. 18 

ready tf ill he be to help our necessities, that thus provides for 
our perfection ! 

God gives the nature to his creatures: man must give the 
name ; that he might see they were made for him, they shall be 
to him what he will Instead of their first homage, they are 
presented to their new lord, and must see of whom they hold. 
He that was so careful of man's sovereignty in his innocency, how 
can he be careless of his safety in his renovation ! If Ood had 
given them their names, it had not been so great a praise of 
Adam's memory to recall them, as it was now of his judgment, 
at first sight, to impose them : he saw the inside of all the crea- 
tures at first; (his posterity sees but their skins ever since;) 
and by his knowledge he fitted their names to their dispositions. 

All that he saw were fit to be his servants, none to be his 
companions. The same Ood, that finds the want, supplies it. 
Rather than man's innocency shall want an outward comfort, 
Ood will begin a new creation : not out of the earth, which was 
the matter of man ; not out of the inferior creatures, which were 
the servants of man ; but out of himself, for dearness, for equality. 
Doubtless such was man's power of obedience, that if God 
had bidden him yield up his rib, waking, for his use, he had 
done it cheerfully : but the bounty of God was so absolute, that 
he would not so much as consult with man's will, to make him 
happy. As man knew not while he was made, so shall he not - 
know while his other self is made out of him : that the comfort 
might be greater, which was seen before it was expected. 

If the woman should have been made, not without the pain, or 
will of the man, she might have been upbraided with her depend- 
ence and obligation. Now she owes nothing but to her Creator : 
the rib of Adam sleeping, can challenge no more of her than the 
earth can of him. It was a happy change to Adam, of a rib for 
a helper. What help did that bone give to his side 1 God had not 
made it, if it had been superfluous : and yet if man could not have 
been perfect without it, it had not been taken out. Many things 
are useful and convenient, which are not necessary : and if God 
had seen man might not want it, how easy had it been for him, 
which made the woman of that bone, to turn the flesh into another 
bone I But he saw man could not complain of the want of that 
bone which he had so multiplied, so animated. 

O God, we can never be losers by thy changes, we have nothing 
but what is thine : take from us thine own, when thou wilt, we are 
sure thou canst not but give us better. 

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14 Of Paradise. book i. 

OF PARADISE.— Genesis ii, iii. 

Man could no sooner see, than he saw himself happy : his eye- 
sight and reason were both perfect at once, and the objects of 
both were able to make him as happy as he would. When he 
first opened his eyes, he saw heaven above him, earth under him, 
the creatures about him, God before him; he knew what 
all these things meant, as if he had been long acquainted 
with them all: he saw the heavens glorious, but far off: his 
Maker thought it requisite to fit him with a paradise nearer 
home. If God had appointed him immediately to heaven, 
his body had been superfluous; it was fit his body should be 
answered with an earthen image of that heaven, which was for 
his soul : had man been made only for contemplation, it would 
have served as well to have been placed in some vast desert; on 
the top of some barren mountain ; but the same power which 
gave him a heart to meditate, gave him hands to work, and work 
fit for his hands. 

Neither was it the purpose of the Creator, that man should 
but live : pleasure may stand with innocence : he, that rejoiced 
to see all he had made to be good, rejoioeth to see all that 
he had made to be well. God loves to see his creatures happy ; 
our lawful delight is his: they know not God that think to 
please him with making themselves miserable. The idolaters 
thought it a fit service for Baal, to cut and lance themselves; 
never any holy man looked for thanks from the true God 
by wronging himself. 

Every earth was not fit for Adam, but a garden ; a paradise. 
What excellent pleasures, and rare varieties, have men found in 
gardens planted by the bands of men ! And yet all the world 
of men cannot make one twig, or leaf, or spire of grass. When 
he that made the matter undertakes the fashion, how must 
it needs be, beyond our capacity, excellent! No herb, no 
flower, no tree, was wanting there, that might be for ornament 
or use; whether for sight, or for scent, or for taste. The 
bounty of God wrought further than to necessity, even to com- 
fort and recreation. Why are we niggardly to ourselves, when 
God is liberal ! But, for all this, if God had not there conversed 
with man, no abundance could have made him blessed. 

Yet, behold! that which was man's storehouse was also 
his workhouse ; his pleasure was his task : paradise served not 
only to feed his senses, but to exercise his hands. If happiness 

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cont. in. Of Paradise. 15 

had consisted in doing nothing, man had not been employed ; all 
his delights could not hare made him happy in an idle life. 
Man, therefore, is no sooner made, than he is set to work: 
neither greatness nor perfection can privilege a folded hand; he 
must labour, because he was happy ; how much more we, that 
we may be ! This first labour of his was, as without necessity, 
10 without pains, without weariness; Low much more cheerfully 
we go about our businesses, so much nearer we come to our 

Neither did these trees afford him only action for his hands,, 
but instruction to his heart : for here he saw God's sacraments 
grow before him ; all other trees had a natural use ; these two 
in the midst of the garden, a spiritual. Life is the act of 
the soul, knowledge the life of the soul ; the tree of knowledge, 
and the tree of life, then, were ordained as earthly helps of the 
spiritual part : perhaps he, which ordained the end, immortality 
of life, did appoint this fruit as the means of that life. It is not 
for us to enquire after the life we had; and the means we 
should have had. I am sure it served to nourish the soul 
by a lively representation of that living tree, whose fruit is eternal 
life, and whose leaves serve to heal the nations. 

O infinite mercy I Man saw his Saviour before him, ere he 
had need of a Saviour; he saw in whom he should recover 
an heavenly life, ere he lost the earthly : but after he had tasted 
of the tree of knowledge, he might not taste of the tree of life ; 
that immortal food was not for a mortal stomach : yet then did 
he most savour that invisible tree of life, when he was most 
restrained from the other. O Saviour, none but a sinner can 
relish thee : my taste hath been enough seasoned with the for- 
bidden fruit, to make it capable of thy sweetness ; sharpen thou 
as well the stomach of my soul by repenting, by believing ; so 
shall I eat, and in despite of Adam live for ever. 

The one tree was for confirmation ; the other for trial : one 
shewed him what life he should have ; the other what knowledge 
he should not desire to have. Alas I he, that knew all other 
things, knew not this one thing, that he knew enough. How 
divine a thing is knowledge, whereof even innocency itself is 
ambitious I Satan knew what he did: if this bait had been 
gold, or honour, or pleasure, man had contemned it : who can 
hope to avoid error, when even man's perfection is mistaken! 
He looked for speculative knowledge, he should have looked for 

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16 Of Paradise. book i. 

experimental : he thought it had been good to know evil : good 
was large enough to have perfected his knowledge, and therein 
his blessedness. 

All that God made was good, and the Maker of them much 
more good; they good in their kinds, he good in himself. 
It would not content him to know God and his creatures; his 
curiosity affected to know that which God never made, evil 
of sin, and evil of death, which indeed himself made by desiring 
to know them ; now we know well evil enough, and smart with 
knowing it. How dear hath this lesson cost us, That in some 
cases it is better to be ignorant ; and yet do the sons of Eve 
inherit this saucy appetite of their grandmother : How many 
thousand souls miscarry with the presumptuous affectation of for- 
bidden knowledge ! O God, thou hast revealed more than we can 
know, enough to make us happy : teach me a sober knowledge 
and a contented ignorance. 

Paradise was made for man, yet there I see the serpent. 
What marvel is it if my corruption find the serpent in my closet, 
in my table, in my bed, when our holy parents found him in the 
midst of paradise ! No sooner he is entered, but he tempteth : 
he can no more be idle than harmless. I do not see him at any 
other tree ; he knew there was no danger in the rest ; I see him 
at the tree forbidden. How true a serpent is he in every point ! 
in his insinuation to the place, in his choice of the tree, in his 
assault of the woman, in his plausibleness of speech to avoid 
terror, in his question to move doubt, in his reply to work 
distrust, in his protestation of safety, in his suggestion to envy 
and discontent, in his promise of gain ! 

And if he were so cunning at the first, what shall we think of 
him now, after so many thousand years' experience ! Only thou, 
O God, and those angels that see thy face, are wiser than he. I 
do not ask why, when he left his goodness, thou didst not 
bereave him of his skill. Still thou wouldst have him an angel, 
though an evil one : and thou knowest how to ordain his craft to 
thine own glory. I do not desire thee to abate of his subtlety, 
but to make me wise ; let me beg it without presumption, make 
me wiser than Adam : even thine image, which he bore, made 
him not, through his own weakness, wise enough to obey thee ; 
thou offeredst him all fruits, and restrainedst but one; Satan 
offered him but one, and restrained not the rest : when he chose 
rather to be at Satan's feeding than thine, it was just with thee 

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cont. in. Of Paradise. 17 

to turn him out of thy gates with a curse : why shouldst thou 
feed a rebel at thine own board ? 

And yet we transgress daily, and thou shuttest not heaven 
against us : how is it that we find more mercy than our fore- 
father ? His strength is worthy of severity, our weakness finds 
pity. That God, from whose face he fled in the garden, now 
makes him with shame to fly out of the garden : those angels, 
that should have kept him, now keep the gates of paradise against 
him : it is not so easy to recover happiness, as to keep it, or lose 
it : yea, the same cause that drove man from paradise hath also 
withdrawn paradise from the world. 

That fiery sword did not defend it against those waters 
wherewith the sins of men drowned the glory of that place : 
neither now do I care to seek where that paradise was, which we 
lost : I know where that paradise is, which we must care to seek 
and hope to find. As man was the image of God, so was 
that earthly paradise an image of heaven ; both the images are 
defaced, both the first patterns are eternal: Adam was in the 
first, and staid not: in the second, is the second Adam which 
said, This day shall thou be with me in paradise. There was 
that chosen vessel, and heard and saw what could not be ex- 
pressed : by how much the third heaven exceeds the richest 
earth ; so much doth that paradise, whereto "we aspire, exceed 
that which we have lost. 

OF CAIN AND ABEL.— Genesis vi. 

Look now, O my soul, upon the two first brethren, perhaps 
twins ; and wonder at their contrary dispositions and estates : if 
the privileges of nature had been worth anything, the first-born 
child should not have been a reprobate. Now, that we may 
ascribe all to free grace, the elder is a murderer, the younger 
a saint; though goodness may be repaired in ourselves, yet 
it cannot be propagated to others. Now might Adam see the 
image of himself in Cain ; for after his own image begot he him ; 
Adam slew his posterity, Cain his brother : we are too like one 
another in that wherein we are unlike to God : even the clearest 
grain sends forth that chaff from which it was fanned ere the 
sowing. Yet is this Cain a possession ; the same Eve, that 


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18 Of Cain and Abel. book i. 

mistook the fruit of the garden, mistook also the fruit of her own 
body, her hope deceived her in both ; so, many good names are 
ill bestowed, and our comfortable expectations in earthly things 
do not seldom disappoint us. 

Doubtless, their education was holy; for Adam, though in 
paradise he could not be innocent, yet was a good man out of 
paradise ; his sin and fall now made him circumspect, and since 
he saw that his act had bereaved them of that image of God, 
which he once had for them, he could not but labour by all holy 
endeavours to repair it in them, that so his care might make 
amends for his trespass. How plain is it, that even good-breeding 
cannot alter destiny ! 

That which is crooked can none make straight; who would 
think that brethren, and but two brethren, should not love each 
other? Dispersed love grows weak, and fewness of objects 
useth to unite affections: if but two brothers be left alive 
of many, they think that the love of all the rest should survive 
in them ; and now the beams of their affection are so much the 
hotter, because they reflect mutually in a right line upon each 
other : yet, behold, here are but two brothers in the world, and 
one is the butcher of the other. Who can wonder at dissensions 
amongst thousands of brethren, when he sees so deadly opposition 
betwixt two, the first roots of brotherhood ? Who can hope to 
live plausibly and securely amongst so many Cains, when he 
sees one Gain the death of one Abel ? 

The same devil, that set enmity betwixt man and God, sets 
enmity betwixt man and man ; and yet God said, I will put 
enmity between thy seed and her seed. Our hatred of the serpent 
and his seed is from God : their hatred of the holy seed is from 
the serpent. Behold here at once, in one person, the seed of the 
woman and of the serpent: Cain's natural parts are of the 
woman ; bis vicious qualities of the serpent : the woman gave 
him to be a brother, the serpent to be a manslayer; all un- 
charitableness, all quarrels, are of one author : we cannot entertain 
wrath, and not give place to the devil. Certainly, so deadly an 
act must needs be deeply grounded. 

What then was the occasion of this capital malice? Abel's 
sacrifice is accepted ; what was this to Cain ? Cain's is rejected ; 
what could Abel remedy this ? envy, the corrosive of all 
ill minds, and the root of all desperate actions : the same cause 

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coxt. iv. Of Cam and Abel. 19 

that moved Satan to tempt the first man to destroy himself and 
his posterity, the same moves the second man to destroy the 

It should have been Cain's joy, to see his brother accepted ; 
it should have been his sorrow, to see that himself had deserved 
a rejection: his brother's example should have excited and di- 
rected him. Could Abel have stayed God's fire from descending ? 
Or should he, if he could, reject God's acceptation, and displease 
his Maker, to content a brother ? Was Cain ever the farther from 
a blessing, because his brother obtained mercy ? How proud and 
foolish is malice I which grows thus mad, for no other cause, but 
because God or Abel is not less good. It hath been an old and 
happy danger to be holy: indifferent actions must bo careful 
to avoid offence; but I care not what devil or what Cain be 
angry, that I do good, or receive good. 

There was never any nature without envy. Every man is born 
a Cain ; hating that goodness in another which he neglccteth in 
himself. There was never envy that was not bloody ; for if it 
eat not another's heart, it will eat our own: but unless it be 
restrained, it will surely feed itself with the blood of others, 
ofttimes in act, always in affection; and that God, which, in 
good, accepts the will for the deed, condemns the will for the 
deed in evil. If there be an evil heart, there will be an evil eye ; 
and if both these, there will be an evil hand. 

How early did martyrdom come into the world ! The first 
man that died died for religion ; who dare measure God's love 
by outward events, when he sees wicked Cain standing over 
bleeding Abel; whose sacrifice was first accepted, and now 
himself is sacrificed ? Death was denounced to man as a curse; 
yet, behold, it first lights upon a saint : how soon was it altered 
by the mercy of that just hand which inflicted it ! If death had 
been evil, and life good, Cain had been slain, and Abel had 
survived ; now that it begins with him that God loves, O death, 
where is thy sting ? 

Abel says nothing, his ■ blood cries : every drop of innocent 
blood hath a tongue, and is not only vocal, but importunate: 
what a noise then did the blood of my Saviour make in heaven ! 
who was himself the Shepherd and the Sacrifice ; the Man that 
was offered, and the God to whom it was offered. The Spirit, 
that heard both, says, It spake better things than the blood 
of Abel. Abel's blood called for revenge, his for mercy ; Abel's 

c % 

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20 Of Cain and Abel. book i. 

pleaded his own innocency, his the satisfaction for all the believing 
world ; AbePs procured Cain's punishment, his freed all repentant 
souls from punishment : better things, indeed, than the blood of 
Abel. Better, and therefore that which Abel's blood said was 
good : it is good that Ood should be avenged of sinners. Exe- 
cution of justice upon offenders is no less good than rewards of 

No sooner doth Abel's blood speak unto Ood than God 
speaks to Cain. There is no wicked man to whom God speaks 
not, if not to his ear, yet to his heart. What speech was this ? 
not an accusation, but an inquiry ; yet such an inquiry as would 
infer an accusation. God loves to have a sinner accuse himself, 
and therefore hath he set his deputy in the breast of man; 
neither doth God love this more than nature abhors it: Cain 
answers stubbornly : the very name of Abel wounds him no less 
than his hand had wounded Abel. Consciences that are without 
remorse are not without horror : wickedness makes men desperate ; 
the murderer is angry with God, as of late for accepting his 
brother's oblation, so now for listening to his blood. 

And now he dares answer God with a question, Am I my 
brother's keeper? where he should have said, Am not I my 
brother's murderer? Behold, he scorneth to keep whom he 
feared not to kill: good duties are base and troublesome to 
wicked minds, whilst even violences of evil are pleasant. Yet 
this miscreant, which neither had grace to avoid his sin, nor to 
confess it now that he is convinced of sin and cursed for it, 
how he howleth, how he exclaimeth ! He, that cares not 
for the act of his sin, shall care for the smart of his punishment. 
The damned are weary of their torments, but in vain. How 
great a madness is it to complain too late I He that would not 
keep his brother is cast out from the protection of God; 
he that feared not to kill his brother fears now that whosoever 
meets him will kill him. The troubled conscience projecteth 
fearful things, and sin makes even cruel men cowardly, 

God saw it was too much favour for him to die : he therefore 
wills that which Cain wills. Cain would live ; it is yielded him, 
but for a curse : how often doth God hear sinners in anger ! 
He shall live banished from God, carrying his hell in his bosom, 
and the brand of God's vengeance in his forehead ; God rejects 
him, the earth repines at him, men abhor him ; himself now 
wishes that death which he feared, and no man dare pleasure 

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cont. v. Of the Deluge. 21 

him with a murder ; how bitter is the end of sin, yea, without 
end ! still Gain finds that he killed himself more than his brother. 
We should never sin, if our foresight were but as good as our 
sense : the issue of sin would appear a thousand times more hor- 
rible than the act is pleasant. 

OF THE DELUGE.— Genesis vi, vii, viii. 

The world was grown so foul with sin, that God saw it was 
time to wash it with a flood. And so close did wickedness cleave 
to the authors of it, that when they were washed to nothing, yet 
it would not off: yea, so deep did it stick in the very grain of the 
earth, that God saw it meet to let it soak long under the waters. 
So, under the law, the very vessels that had touched unclean 
water must either be rinsed or broken. Mankind began but 
with one : and yet he, that saw the first man, lived to see the 
earth peopled with a world of men : yet men grew not so fast as 
wickedness. One man could soon and easily multiply a thousand 
sins, never man had so many children : so that, when there were 
men enow to store the earth, there were as many sins as would 
reach up to heaven ; whereupon the waters came down from hea- 
ven, and swelled up to heaven again. If there had not been so 
deep a deluge of sin, there had been none of the waters. From 
whence then was this superfluity of iniquity ? whence, but from 
the unequal yoke with infidels? These marriages did not beget 
men, so much as wickedness ; from hence religious husbands both 
lost their piety, and gained a rebellious and godless generation. 

That, which was the first occasion of sin was the occasion of 
the increase of sin : a woman seduced Adam, women betray theso 
sons of God : the beauty of the apple betrayed the woman, the 
beauty of these women betrayed this holy seed : Eve saw, and 
lusted, so did they ; this also was a forbidden fruit, they lusted, 
tasted, tinned, died ; the most sins begin at the eyes ; by them 
commonly Satan creeps into the heart : that soul can never be in 
safety, that hath not covenanted with his eyes. 

God needed not have given these men any warning of his 
judgment ; they gave him no warning of their sins, no respite : 
yet, that God might approve his mercies to the very wicked, he 
gives them a hundred and twenty years' respite of repenting : 
how loath is God to strike, that threats so long 1 He that delights 
in revenge surprises his advorsary ; whereas he that gives long 

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22 Of the Deluge. book i. 

warnings desires to be prevented : if we were not wilful, we 
should never smart. 

Neither doth he give them time only, but a faithful teacher. 
It is a happy thing when he that teacheth others is righteous; 
Noah's hand taught them as much as his tongue. His business 
in building the ark was a real sermon to the world ; wherein at 
once were taught mercy and life to the believer, and to the rebel- 
lious destruction. 

Methinks I see those monstrous sons of Lamech coming to 
Noah, and asking him what he means by that strange work ; 
whether he mean to sail upon the dry land. To whom when he 
reports God's purpose and his, they go away laughing at his 
idleness, and tell one another, in sport, that too much holiness 
hath made him mad : yet cannot they all flout Noah out of his 
faith ; he preaches, and builds, and finishes. Doubtless more 
hands went to this work than his : many a one wrought upon the 
ark, which yet was not saved in the ark. Our outward works 
cannot save us without our faith ; we may help to save others, 
and perish ourselves : what a wonder of mercy is this that I here 
seel One poor family called out of a world, and as it were 
eight grains of corn fanned from a whole barnful of chaff: one 
hypocrite was saved with the rest for Noah's sake; not one 
righteous man was swept away for company. For these few was 
the earth preserved still under the waters, and all kinds of crea- 
tures upon the waters, which else had been all destroyed. Still 
the world stands, for their sakes, for whom it was preserved; 
else fire should consume that which could not be cleansed by 

This difference is strange : I see the savagest of all creatures, 
lions, tigers, bears, by an instinct from God, come to seek the 
ark, (as we see swine foreseeing a storm run home crying for 
shelter), men I see not; reason once debauched is worse than 
brutishness : God hath use even of these fierce and cruel beasts, 
and glory by them : even they, being created for man, must live 
by him, though to his punishment : how gently do they offer and 
submit themselves to their preserver; renewing that obeisance 
to this repairer of the world, which they, before sin, yielded to 
him that first stored the world : he, that shut them into the ark 
when they were entered, shut their mouths also while they did 
enter. The lions fawn upon Noah and Daniel ; what heart can- 
not the Maker of them mollify ? 

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cont. v. Of the Deluge. 23 

The unclean beasts God would hare to live, the clean to mul- 
tiply ; and therefore he sends to Noah seven of the clean, of the 
unclean two : he knew the one would annoy man with their mul- 
titude, the other would enrich him ; those things are worthy of 
most respect which are of most use. 

But why seven? Surely that God, that created seven days 
in the week, and made one for himself, did here preserve of 
seven clean beasts one for himself, for sacrifice : he gives us six for 
one in earthly things, that in spiritual we should be all for him. 

Now the day. is come, all the guests are entered, the ark is 
shut, and the windows of heaven open : I doubt not but many of 
those scoffers, when they saw the violence of the waves descending 
and ascending, according to Noah's prediction, came wading mid- 
dle deep unto the ark, and importunately craved that admittance 
which they once denied : but now, as they formerly rejected God, 
so are they justly rejected of God. For ere vengeance begin, 
repentance is seasonable ; but if judgment be once gone out, we 
cry too late. While the Gospel solicits us, the doors of the ark 
are open ; if we neglect the time of grace, in vain shall we seek 
it with tears : God holds it no mercy to pity the obstinate. 
Others, more bold than they, hope to overrun the judgment, and, 
climbing up to the high mountains, look down upon the waters 
with more hope than fear : and now, when they see their hills 
become islands, they climb up into the tallest trees ; there with 
paleness and horror at once look for death, and study to avoid it, 
whom the waves overtake at last half dead with famine, and half 
with fear. Lo ! now from the tops of the mountains they descry 
the ark floating upon the waters, and behold with envy that 
which before they beheld with scorn. 

In vain doth he fly whom God pursues. There is no way to 
fly from his judgments, but to fly to his mercy by repenting. The 
faith of the righteous cannot be so much derided as their success 
is magnified: how securely doth Noah ride out this uproar of 
heaven, earth and waters I He hears the pouring down of tho 
rain above his head; the shrieking of men, and roaring and bel- 
lowing of beasts, on both sides of him ; the raging and threats of 
the waves under him ; he saw the miserable shifts of the dis- 
tressed unbelievers ; and in the mean time sits quietly in his dry 
cabin, neither feeling nor fearing evil : he knew that he, which 
owned the waters, would steer him ; that he, who shut him in, 
would preserve him. How happy a thing is faith ! What a quiet 

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24 Of the Deluge. book i.- 

safety, what an heavenly peace doth it work in the soul, in the 
midst of all the inundations of evil ! 

Now, when God hath fetched again all the life which he had 
given to his unworthy creatures, and reduced the world unto his 
first form wherein waters were oyer the face of the earth, it was 
time for a renovation of all things to succeed this destruction. 
To have continued the deluge long had been to punish Noah, 
that was righteous. After forty days, therefore, the heavens 
clear up ; after a hundred and fifty the waters sink down. How 
soon is God weary of punishing, which is never weary of blessing ! 
yet may not the ark rest suddenly. If we did not stay somewhile 
under God's hand, we should not know how sweet his mercy is, 
and how great our thankfulness should be. The ark, though it 
was Noah's fort against the waters, yet it was his prison ; he was 
safe in it, but pent up ; he, that gave him life by it, now thinks 
time to give him liberty out of it. 

God doth not reveal all things to his best servants : behold, he 
that told Noah an hundred and twenty years before what day he 
should go into the ark, yet foretells him not now in the ark what 
day the ark should rest upon the hills, and he should go forth. 
Noah therefore sends out his intelligencers, the raven and the 
dove ; whose wings in that vaporous air might easily descry fur- 
ther than his sight. The raven, of quick scent, of gross feed, of 
tough constitution ; no fowl was so fit for discovery : the likeliest 
things always succeed not. He neither will venture far into that 
solitary world for fear of want, nor yet come into the ark for 
love of liberty ; but hovers about in uncertainties. How many 
carnal minds fly out of the ark of God's church, and embrace the 
present world ; rather choosing to feed upon the unsavory car- 
casses of sinful pleasures, than to be restrained within the strait 
lists of Christian obedience ! 

The dove is sent forth, a fowl both swift and simple. She, like 
a true citizen of the ark, returns; and brings faithful notice 
of the continuance of the waters, by her restless and empty re- 
turn ; by her olive leaf, of the abatement. How worthy are those 
messengers to be welcome, which, with innocence in their lives, 
bring glad tidings of peace and salvation in their mouths I 

Noah rejoices and believes ; yet still he waits seven days more : 
it is not good to devour the favours of God too greedily ; but to 
take them in, that we may digest them. O strong faith of Noah, 
that was not weary with this delay ! Some man would have so 


cont. v. Of the Deluge. 25 

longed for the open air after so long closeness, that upon the first 
notice of safety he would have uncovered, and voided the ark ; 
Noah stays seven days ere he will open, and well near two months 
ere he will forsake the ark ; and not then, unless God, that com- 
manded to enter, had bidden him depart. There is no action good 
without faith ; no faith without a word. Happy is that man, 
which, in all things, neglecting the counsels of flesh and blood, 
depends upon the commission of his Maker. 





Right Honourable, — I durst appeal to the judgment of a carnal reader, (let 
him not be prejudicate) that there is no history so pleasant as the sacred. Set 
aside the majesty of the Inditer ; none can compare with it for the magnifi- 
cence and antiquity of the matter, the sweetness of compiling, the strange 
variety of memorable occurrences : and if the delight be such, what shall the 
profit be esteemed of that which was written by God for the salvation of 
men ! I confess no thoughts did ever more sweetly steal me and time away, 
than those which I have employed in this subject, and I hope none can 
equally benefit others : for, if the mere relation of these holy things be pro- 
fitable, how much more when it is reduced to use ! This second part of the 
world repaired, I dedicate to your lordship ; wherein you shall see Noah as 
weak in his tent, as strong in the ark ; an ungracious son reserved from the 
deluge to his father's curse; modest piety rewarded with blessings; the 
building of Babel, begun in pride, ended in confusion; Abraham's faith, 
fear, obedience; Isaac bound upon the altar under the hand of a father, that 
hath forgotten both nature and all his hopes; Sodom burning with a double 
fire, from hell, and from heaven ; Lot rescued from that impure city, yet after 
finding Sodom in his cave : every one of these passages is not more full of 
wonder than of edification. That Spirit, which hath penned all these things 
for our learning, teach us their right use; and sanctify these my unworthy 
meditations to the good of his church ! To whose abundant grace I humbly 
commend your lordship. 

Your lordship's unfeignedly devoted, in all due observance, 


* Philip Stanhope, created in 1616, Baron Stanhope of Shelford, in the 
county of Derby, afterwards, in 1638, earl of Chesterfield. 

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26 Of Noah. book ii. 

NOAH. — Genesis vii. ix. 

No sooner is Noah come out of the ark, but he builds an altar : 
not an house for himself, but an altar to the Lord : our faith will 
ever teach us to prefer Ood to ourselves. Delayed thankfulness 
is not worthy of acceptation. Of those few creatures that are 
left, Ood must have some; they are all his; yet his goodness 
will have man know that it was he for whose sake they were 
preserved. It was a privilege to those very brute creatures, that 
they were saved from the waters, to be offered up in fire unto 
God : what a favour is it for men to be reserved from common 
destructions, to be sacrificed to their Maker and Redeemer ! 

Lo this little fire of Noah, through the virtue of his faith, 
purged the world, and ascended up into those heavens, from 
which the waters fell, and caused a glorious rainbow to appear 
therein for his security : all the sins of the former world were 
not so unsavory unto God as this smoke was pleasant. No per- 
fume can be so sweet as the holy obedience of the faithful. Now 
God, that was before annoyed with the ill savour of sin, smells a 
sweet savour of rest. Behold here a new and second rest : first, 
God rested from making the world, now he rests from destroying 
it : even while we cease not to offend, he ceases from a public re- 
venge. His word was enough, yet withal he gives a sign, which 
may speak the truth of his promise to the very eyes of men : 
thus he doth still in his blessed sacraments, which are as real 
words to the soul. The rainbow is the pledge of our safety, which 
even naturally signifies the end of a shower: all the signs of 
God's institution are proper and significant. 

But who would look, after all this, to have found righteous 
Noah, the father of the new world, lying drunken in his tent ? 
Who would think that wine should overthrow him, that was pre- 
served from the waters i that he, who could not be tainted with 
the sinful examples of the former world, should begin the example 
of a new sin of his own ? What are we men, if we be but ourselves ! 
While God upholds us, no temptation can move us: when he 
leaves us, no temptation is too weak to overthrow us. What 
living man ever had so noble proofs of the mercy, of the justice 
of God? mercy upon himself, justice upon others. What man 
had so gracious approbation from his Maker ? Behold he, of whom 
in an uncloan world God said, Thee only have I found righteous, 
proves now unclean when the world was purged. The preacher 

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cost. i. Of Noah. 27 

of righteousness unto the former age, the king, priest, and pro- 
phet of the world renewed, is the first that renews the sins of that 
world which he had reproved, and which he saw condemned for 
sin : God's best children hare no fence for sins of infirmity : which 
of the saints have not once done that whereof they are ashamed ? 
God, that lets us fall, knows how to make as good use of the sins 
of his holy ones, as of their obedience : If we had not such pat- 
terns, who could choose but despair at the sight of his sins ? 

Tet we find Noah drunken but once. One act can no more 
make a good heart unrighteous, than a trade of sin can stand 
with regeneration : but when I look to the effect of this sin, I 
cannot but blush and wonder. Lo, this sin is worse than sin; 
other sins move shame, but hide it ; this displays it to the world. 
Adam had no sooner sinned, but he saw and abhorred his own 
nakedness, seeking to hide it even with bushes. 

Noah had no sooner sinned but he discovers his nakedness, 
and hath not so much rale of himself as to be ashamed : one 
hour's drunkenness bewrays that, which more than six hundred 
years' sobriety had modestly concealed ; he, that gives himself to 
wine is not his own : what shall we think of this vice, which robs 
a man of himself, and lays a beast in his room ? Noah's nakedness 
is seen in wine : it is no unusual quality, in this excess, to disclose 
secrets; drunkenness doth both make imperfections, and shew 
those we have to others' eyes : so would God have it, that we 
might be doubly ashamed, both of those weaknesses which we 
discover, and of that weakness which moved us to discover. 

Noah is uncovered ; but in the midst of his own tent : it had 
been sinful, though no man had seen it : unknown sins have their 
guilt and shame, and are justly attended with known punish- 
ments. Ungracious Cham saw it and laughed ; his father's shame 
should have been his ; the deformity of those parts from which 
he had his being, should have begotten in him a secret horror 
and dejection : how many graceless men make sport at the causes 
of their humiliation I Twice had Noah given him life; yet neither 
the name of a father and preserver, nor age, nor virtue, could 
shield him from the contempt of his own. I see that even God's 
ark may nourish monsters : some filthy toads may lie under the 
stones of the temple. God preserves some men in judgment ; 
better had it been for Cham to have perished in the waters, than 
to live unto his father's curse. 
Not content to be a witness of this filthy sight, he goes on to 

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28 Of Noah. book ii. 

be a proclaimer of it. Sin doth ill in the eye, but worse in the 
tongue : as all sin is a work of darkness, so it should be buried 
in darkness. The report of sin is ofttimes as ill as the com- 
mission ; for it can never be blazoned without uncharitableness ; 
seldom, without infection. Oh the unnatural and more than 
Chammish impiety of those sons which rejoice to publish the 
nakedness of their spiritual parents even to their enemies I 

Yet it was well for Noah that Cham could tell it to none but 
his own; and those gracious and dutiful sons. Our shame is 
the less, if none know our faults but our friends. Behold, how 
love covereth sins ; these good sons are so far from going for- 
ward to see their father's shame, that they go backward to hide 
it. The cloke is laid on both their shoulders, they both go back 
with equal paces, and dare not so much as look back, lest they 
should unwillingly see the cause of their shame ; and will rather 
adventure to stumble at their father's body, than to see his na- 
kedness : how did it grieve them to think, that they, which had 
so oft come to their holy father with reverence, must now in reve- 
rence turn their backs upon him ; and that they must now clothe 
him in pity, which had so often clothed them in love I And, which 
adds more to their duty, they covered him, and said nothing. 
This modest sorrow is their praise and our example : the sins of 
those we love and honour we must hear of with indignation, 
fearfully and unwillingly believe, acknowledge with grief and 
shame, hide with honest excuses, and bury in silence. 

How equal a regard is this both of piety and disobedience! 
because Cham sinned against his father, therefore he shall be 
plagued in his children ; Japheth is dutiful to his father, and finds 
it in his posterity. Because Cham was an ill son to his father, 
therefore his sons shall be servants to his brethren; because 
Japheth set his shoulder to Shem's, to bear the cloak of shame, 
therefore shall Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem, partaking 
with him in blessings as in duty. When we do but what we 
ought, yet God is thankful to us ; and rewards that whioh we 
should sin if we did not: who could ever yet shew me a man 
rebelliously undutiful to his parents, that hath prospered in him- 
self and his seed ? 

OF BABEL.— Genesis xi. 
How soon arc men and sins multiplied! within one hundred 

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cont.ii. Of Babel 29 

years the world is as full of both as if there had been no deluge. 
Though men could not but see the fearful monuments of the ruin 
of their ancestors, yet how quickly had they forgotten a flood ! 
Good Noah lived to see the world both populous and wicked 
again ; and doubtless ofttimes repented to have been preserver of 
some, whom he saw to traduce the vices of the former world to 
the renewed. It could not but grieve him to see the destroyed 
giants revive out of his own loins, and to see them of his flesh and 
blood tyrannize over themselves. In his sight Nimrod, casting off the 
awe of his holy grandfather, grew imperious and cruel, and made 
his own kinsmen servants. How easy a thing it is for a great 
spirit to be the head of a faction, when even brethren will stoop 
to servitude ! And now, when men are combined together, evil 
and presumptuous motions find encouragement in multitudes; 
and each man takes a pride in seeming forwardest : we are the 
cheerfuller in good when we have the assistance of company; 
much more in sinning, by how much we are more prone to evil 
than good. It was a proud word, Come, let us build us a city 
and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven. 

They were newly come down from the hills unto the plains, 
and now think of raising up a hill, of building in the plain : when 
their tents were pitched upon the mountains of Armenia, they 
were as near to heaven as their tower could make them; but 
their ambition must needs aspire to a height of their own raising. 
Pride is ever discontented, and still seeks matter of boasting in 
her own works. 

How fondly do men reckon without God I Come, let us build ; 
as if there had been no stop but in their own will ; as if both 
earth and time had been theirs. Still do all natural men build 
Babel ; forecasting their own plots so resolutely, as if there were 
no power to countermand them. It is just with God that per- 
emptory determinations seldom prosper; whereas those things 
which are fearfully and modestly undertaken commonly succeed. 

Let us build us a city. If they had taken God with them, it 
had been commendable ; establishing of societies is pleasing to 
him that is the God of order : but a tower ', whose top may reach 
to heaven, was a shameful arrogance, an impious presumption. 
Who could think that we little ants that creep upon the earth 
should think of climbing up to heaven by multiplying of earth ? 

Pride ever looks at the highest : the first man would know as 
God, these would dwell as God ; covetousness and ambition know 

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30 Of Babel book ii. 

no limits. And what if they had reached up to heaven ? some 
hills are as high as they could hope to be, and yet are no whit 
the better ; no place alters the condition of nature : an angel is 
glorious, though he be upon earth ; and man is but earth, though 
he be above the clouds. The nearer they had been to heaven, 
the more subject should they have been to the violences of heaven, 
to thunders, lightnings, and those other higher inflammations ; what 
had this been but to thrust themselves into the hands of the 
revenger of all wicked insolencies ? God loves that heaven should 
be looked at, and affected with all humble desires, with the holy 
ambitions of faith, not with the proud imaginations of our own 

But wherefore was all this? Not that they loved so much to 
be neighbours to heaven as to be famous upon earth ; it was not 
commodity that was here sought, not safety, but glory ; whither 
doth not thirst of fame carry men, whether in good or evil ! It 
makes them seek to climb to heaven ; it makes them not fear to 
run down headlong to hell. Even in the best things, desire of 
praise stands in competition with conscience, and brags to have 
the more clients. One builds a temple to Diana, in hope of glory, 
intending it for one of the great wonders of the world ; another, 
in hope of fame, burns it. He is a rare man that hath not some 
Babel of his own, whereon he bestows pains and cost, only to be 
talked of. If they had done better things in a vainglorious pur- 
pose, their act had been accursed ; if they had built houses to 
God, if they had sacrificed, prayed, lived well ; the intent poisons 
the action : but now, both the act and the purpose are equally 
vain, and the issue is as vain as either. 

God hath a special indignation at pride, above all sins; and 
will cross our endeavours, not for that they are evil, (what hurt 
could be in laying one brick upon another ?) but for that they 
are proudly undertaken. He could have hindered the laying of 
the first stone, and might as easily have made a trench for the 
foundation, the grave of the builders ; but he loves to see what 
wicked men would do, and to let fools run themselves out of breath : 
what monument should they have had of their own madness, and 
his powerful interruption, if the walls had risen to no height ? 

To stop them then in the midst of their course, he meddles 
not with either their hands or their feet, but their tongues ; not 
by pulling them out, not by loosing their strings, nor by making 
them say nothing, but by teaching them to say too much : here 

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cost. n. Of Babel. 31 

is nothing varied but the sound of letters ; even this frustrates 
the work, and befools the workmen : how easy it is for God ten 
thousand ways to correct and forestall the greatest projects of men I 
He that taught Adam the first words, taught them words that 
never were. One calls for brick, the other looks him in the face, 
and wonders what he commands, and how and why he speaks 
such words as were never heard ; and instead thereof brings him 
mortar, returning him an answer as little understood : each chides 
with other, expressing his choler, so as he only can understand 
himself; from heat they fall to quiet entreaties, but still with the 
same success. At first, every man thinks his fellow mocks him ; 
but now, perceiving this serious confusion, their only answer was 
silence and ceasing : they could not come together, for no man 
could call them to be understood ; and if they had assembled, 
nothing could be determined, because one could never attain to 
the other's purpose: no, they could not have the honour of a 
general dismission, but each man leaves his trowel and station, 
more like a fool than he undertook it : so commonly actions begun 
in glory shut up in shame. 

All external actions depend upon the tongue: no man can 
know another's mind, if this be not the interpreter ; hence, as 
there were many tongues given to stay the building of Babel, so 
there were as many given to build the New Jerusalem, the evan- 
gelical church. How dear hath Babel cost all the world I At tho 
first, when there was but one language, men did spend their time 
in arts, (so was it requisite at the first settling of the world) and 
so came early to perfection ; but now we stay so long of necessity 
upon the shell of tongues, that we can hardly have time to chew 
the sweet kernel of knowledge : surely men would have grown 
too proud, if there had been no Babel ! It falls out ofttimes that 
one sin is a remedy of a greater. Division of tongues must needs 
slacken any work : multiplicity of language had not been given 
by the Holy Ghost for a blessing to the church, if the world bad 
not been before possessed -with multiplicity of languages for a 
punishment : hence it is, that the building of our Sion rises no 
faster, because our tongues are divided ; happy were the church 
of God, if we all spake but one language : while we differ, we can 
build nothing but Babel ; difference of tongues caused their Babel 
to cease, but it builds ours. 

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32 Of Abraham. book it. 

OF ABRAHAM.— Genesis xii. 

It was fit that he which should be the father and pattern of the 
faithful should be thoroughly tried ; for in a set copy every fault 
is important, and may prove a rule of error. Of ten trials which 
Abraham past, the last was the sorest No son of Abraham can 
hope to escape temptations, while he sees that bosom, in which 
he desires to rest, so assaulted with difficulties. 

Abraham must leave his country and kindred, and live amongst 
strangers : the calling of God never leaves men where it finds 
them : the earth is the Lord's, and all places are alike to the wise 
and faithful. If Chaldea had not been grossly idolatrous, Abra- 
ham had not left it ; no bond must tie us to the danger of in- 

But whither must he go ? to a place he knew not, to men that 
knew not him : it is enough comfort to a good man, wheresoever 
he is, that he is acquainted with God ; we are never out of our 
way while we follow the calling of God. Never any man lost by 
his obedience to the Highest; because Abraham yielded, God 
gives him the possession of Canaan : I wonder more at his faith 
in taking this possession, than in leaving his own ; behold, Abra- 
ham takes possession for that seed which he had not, which in 
nature he was not like to have ; of that land whereof he should 
not have one foot, wherein his seed should not be settled of 
almost five hundred years after : the power of faith can prevent 
time, and make future things present ; if we be the true sons of 
Abraham, we have already, while we sojourn here on earth, the 
possession of our land of promise : while we seek our country, 
we have it. 

Tet even Canaan doth not afford him bread, which yet he must 
believe shall flow with milk and honoy to his seed : sense must 
yield to faith ; woe were us, if we must judge of our future estate 
by the present : Egypt gives relief to Abraham, when Canaan 
cannot. In outward things God's etffcmies may fare better than 
his friends. Thrice had Egypt preserved the church of God, in 
Abraham, in Jacob, in Christ ; God ofttimes makes use of the 
world, for the behoof of his, though without their thanks : as con- 
trarily he uses the wicked for scourges to his own inheritance, and 
burns them ; because in his good they intended evil. 

But what a change is this ! hitherto hath Sarah been Abra- 
ham's wife, now Egypt hath made her his sister : fear hath turned 

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coxt. in. Of A braham . 3 3 

him from a husband to a brother ; no strength of faith can ex- 
clude some doubtings : God hath said, " I will make thee a great 
nation ;" Abraham saith, " The Egyptians will kill me :" he, that 
lived by his faith, yet shrinketh and sinneth. How vainly shall we 
hope to believe without all fear, and to live without infirmities ! 
Some little aspersions of unbelief cannot hinder the praise and 
power of faith ; Abraham believed, and it was imputed to him 
for righteousness. He, that through inconsiderateness doubted 
twice of his own life, doubted not of the life of his seed, even from 
the dead and dry womb of Sarah : yet was it more difficult that 
his posterity should live in Sarah, than that Sarah's husband 
should live in Egypt : this was above nature, yet he believes it. 
Sometimes the believer sticks at easy trials, and yet breaks 
through the greatest temptations without fear. Abraham was old 
ere this promise and hope of a son ; and still the older, the more 
incapable; yet Ood makes him wait twenty-five years for per- 
formance. No time is long to faith ; which had learned to defer 
hopes without fainting or irksomeness. 

Abraham heard this news from the angel, and laughed : Sarah 
heard it, and laughed : they did not more agree in their desire, 
than differ in their affection : Abraham laughed for joy ; Sarah, 
for distrust : Abraham laughed, because he believed it would be 
so ; Sarah, because she believed it could not be so : the same act 
varies in the manner of doing, and the intention of the doer. Yet 
Sarah laughed, but within herself, and is betrayed: how God 
can -find us out in secret sins ! How easily did she now think, 
that he, which could know of her inward laughter, could know 
of her conception ; and now she that laughed, and believed not, 
believeth and feareth. 

What a lively pattern do I see in Abraham and Sarah of a 
strong faith and weak I of strong in Abraham, and weak in 
Sarah. She, to make God good of his word to Abraham, know- 
ing her own barrenness, substitutes an Hagar, and in an ambition 
of seed persuades to polygamy. Abraham had never looked to 
obtain the promise by any other than a barren womb, if his own 
wife had not importuned him to take another. When our own 
apparent means fail, weak faith is put to the shifts ; and projects 
strange devices of her own to attain the end. She will rather 
eonceive by another womb than be childless : when she hears of 
an impossibility to nature, she doubteth, and yet hides her diffi- 
dence ; and when she must believe, feareth, because she did dis- 


vj 'E '.ISJTV - 

34 Of Isaac sacrificed, book ii. 

trust: Abraham hears and believes, and expects and rejoices; 
he saith not, "I am old and weak, Sarah is old and barren; 
where are the many nations that shall come from these withered 
loins T It is enough to him that God hath said it: he sees not 
the means, he sees the promise. He knew that God would rather 
raise him up seed from the very stones that he trod upon, than 
himself should want a large and happy issue. 

There is no faith where there is either means or hopes. 
Difficulties and impossibilities are the true objects of belief: 
hereupon God adds to his name that which he would fetch from 
his loins, and made his name as ample as his posterity : never 
any man was a loser by believing: faith is ever recompensed 
with glory. 

Neither is Abraham content only to wait for God, but to smart 
for him : God bids him cut his own flesh ; he willingly sacrifices 
this parcel of his skin and blood to him that was the Owner of 
all : how glad he is to carry this painful mark of the love of his 
Creator ! how forward to seal this covenant with blood, betwixt 
God and him ! not regarding the soreness of his body, in com- 
parison of the confirmation of his soul. The wound was not so 
grievous as the signification was comfortable. For herein he saw, 
that from his loins should come that blessed seed, which should 
purge his soul from all corruption. Well is that part of us lost, 
which may give assurance of the salvation of the whole ; our faith 
is not yet sound, if it have not taught us to neglect pain for God, 
and more to love his sacraments than our own flesh. 

OF ISAAC SACRIFICED.— Genesis xxii. 

But all these are but easy tasks of faith : all ages have stood 
amazed at the next; not knowing whether they should more 
wonder at God's command or Abraham's obedience. Many years 
had that good patriarch waited for his Isaac ; now at last he hath 
joyfully received him, and that with this gracious acclamation ; In 
Isaac shall thy seed be called, and all nations blessed. Behold 
the son of his age, the son of his love, the son of his expectation, 
he that might not endure a mock from his brother must now 
endure the knife of his father : Take thine only son Isaac, wham 
thou lovest, and get thee to the land of Moriah, and offer him 
therefor a burnt offering. 

Never any gold was tried in so hot a fire. Who but Abraham 

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cont. i v. Of Isaac sacrificed. 35 

would not have expostulated with God ? " What ! doth the God 
of mercies now begin to delight in blood? Is it possible that 
murder should become piety ? or, if thou wilt needs take pleasure 
in an human sacrifice, is there none but Isaac fit for thine altar ? 
none but Abraham to offer him ? Shall these hands destroy the 
fruits of mine own loins ? Can I not be faithful unless I be un- 
natural ; or, if I must needs be the monster of all parents, will 
not Ishmael yet be accepted ? O God, where is thy mercy ? where 
is thy justice? Hast thou given me but one only son, and must I 
now slay him ? Why did I wait so long for him ? Why didst thou 
give him me? Why didst thou promise me a blessing in him? 
What will the heathen say, when they shall hear of this infamous 
massacre ? How can thy name and my profession escape a per- 
petual blasphemy? With what face shall I look upon my wife 
Sarah, whose son I have murdered ? How shall she entertain the 
executioner of Isaac? or who will believe that I did this from 
thee ? How shall not all the world spit at this holy cruelty, and 
say, ' There goes the man that cut the throat of his own son?' 
Yet if he were an ungracious or rebellious child, his deserts might 
give some colour to this violence ; but to lay hands on so dear, 
so dutiful, so hopeful a son, is uncapable of all pretences. But 
grant that thou, which art the God of nature, mayest either alter 
or neglect it ; what shall I say to the truth of thy promises ? Can 
thy justice admit contradictions ? Can thy decrees be changeable ? 
Canst thou promise and disappoint ? Can these two stand together, 
' Isaac shall live to be the father of nations, 9 and * Isaac shall now 
die by the hand of his father ?' When Isaac is once gone, where is 
my seed, where is my blessing ? O God, if thy commands and 
purposes be capable of alteration, alter this bloody sentence, and 
let thy first word stand." 

These would have been the thoughts of a weak heart, but God 
knew that he spake to an Abraham, and Abraham knew that he 
had to do with a God : faith had taught him not to argue, but 
obey. In an holy wilfulness he either forgets nature, or despises 
her ; he is sure that what God commands is good ; that what he 
promises is infallible ; and therefore is careless of the means, and 
trusts to the end. 

In matters of God, whosoever consults with flesh and blood 
shall never offer up his Isaac to God : there needs no counsellor 
when we know God is the commander : here is neither grudging, 
nor deliberating, nor delaying : his faith would not suffer him so 

D 2 

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36 Of Isaac sacrificed. book ii. 

much as to be sorry for that he must do. Sarah herself may not 
know of God's charge and her husband's purpose, lest her af- 
fection should have overcome her faith ; lest her weakness, now 
grown importunate, should have said, " Disobey God, and die." 
That which he must do he will do ; he that hath learned not to 
regard the life of his son, had learned not to regard the sorrow of 
his wife. It is too much tenderness to respect the censures and 
constructions of others, when we have a direct word from God. 

The good patriarch rises early, and addresses himself to his 
sad journey. And now must he travel three whole days to this 
execution ; and still must Isaac be in his eye, whom all this while 
he seems to see bleeding upon the pile of wood which he carries : 
there is nothing so miserable as to dwell under the expectation of 
a great evil ; that misery which must be is mitigated with speed, 
and aggravated with delay. All this while, if Abraham had re- 
pented him, he had leisure to return. 

There is no small trial even in the very time of trial. Now, 
when they are come within sight of the chosen mountain, the 
servants are dismissed ; what a devotion is this that will abide no 
witnesses ! He will not suffer two of his own vassals to see him 
do that which soon after all the World must know he hath done ; 
yet is not Abraham afraid of that piety which the beholders can- 
not see without horror, without resistance ; which no ear could 
hear of without abomination. What stranger could have endured 
to see the father carry the knife and fire, instruments of death, 
which he would rather suffer than inflict? — the son securely 
carrying that burden which must carry him ? 

But if Abraham's heart could have known how to relent, that 
question of his dear, innocent, and religious son had melted it 
into compassion ; My father, behold the fire and the wood, but 
where is the sacrifice ? I know not whether that word, My father, 
did not strike Abraham as deep as the knife of Abraham could 
strike his son : yet doth he not so much as think, " O miserable 
man, that may not at once be a son to such a God, and a father 
to such a son;" still he persists, and conceals, and where he 
meant not, prophesies ; My son, Ood shall provide a lamb for a 
burnt offering. 

The heavy tidings were loath to come forth : it was a death to 
Abraham to say what he must do : he knows his own faith to act 
this, he knows not Isaac's to endure it. But now when Isaac 
hath helped to build the altar whereon he must be consumed, he 

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coxt. iv. Of Isaac sacrificed. 37 

hears, not without astonishment, the strange command of God, 
the final will of his father : " My son, thou art the lamb which 
God hath provided for this burnt offering : if my blood would 
have excused thee, how many thousand times had I rather to 
give thee mine own life than take thine I Alas! I am full of 
days, and now, of long, lived not but in thee : thou mightest have 
preserved the life of thy father, and have comforted his death, 
but the God of us both hath chosen thee : he that gave thee unto 
me miraculously, bids me by an unusual means return thee unto 
him. I need not tell thee that I sacrifice all my worldly joys, 
yea, and myself, in thee ; but God must be obeyed ; neither art 
thou too dear for him that calls thee : come on, my son, restore 
the life that God hath given thee by me : offer thyself willingly 
to these flames ; send up thy soul cheerfully unto thy glory ; and 
know that God loves thee above others, since he requires thee 
alone to be consecrated in sacrifice to himself/' 

Who cannot imagine with what perplexed mixtures of passions, 
with what changes of countenance, what doubts, what fears, what 
amazement, good Isaac received this sudden message from the 
mouth of his father, how he questioned, how he pleaded? But 
when he had somewhat digested his thoughts, and considered that 
the author was God, the actor Abraham, the action a sacrifice, he 
now approves himself the son of Abraham ; now he encourages the 
trembling hand of his father with whom he strives in this praise 
of forwardness and obedience ; now he offers his hands and hi? 
feet to the cords, his throat to the knife, his body to the altar ; 
and growing ambitious of the sword and fire, intreats his father 
to do that which he would have done though he had dissuaded 
him. O holy emulation of faith I O blessed agreement of the sa- 
crificer and oblation I Abraham is as ready to take, as Isaac to 
give ; he binds those dear hands which are more straitly bound 
with the chords of duty and resolution ; he lays his sacrifice upon 
the wood, which now beforehand burnt inwardly with the hea- 
venly fire of zeal and devotion. 

And now, having kissed him his last, not without mutual tears, 
be lifts up his hand to fetch the stroke of death at once, not so 
much as thinking, "Perhaps God will relent after the first 
wound." Now, the stay of Abraham, the hope of the church, 
lies about to bleed under the hand of a father : what bowels can 
choose but yearn at this spectacle ? which of the savagest heathens 
that had been now upon the hill of Moriah, and had seen through 

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38 Of Isaac sacrificed. book ii. 

the bushes the sword of a father hanging over the throat of such 
a son, would not have been more perplexed in his thoughts than 
that unexpected sacrifice was in those briers ? Tet he whom it 
nearest concerned is least touched ; faith hath wrought the same 
in him which cruelty would in others, not to be moved. He con- 
temns all fears, and overlooks all impossibilities ; his heart tells 
him that the same hand which raised Isaac from the dead womb 
of Sarah, can raise him again from the ashes of his sacrifice : with 
this confidence was the hand of Abraham now falling upon the 
throat of Isaac, who had given himself for dead, and rejoiced in 
the change; when suddenly the angel of God interrupts him, 
forbids him, commends him. 

The voice of God was never so welcome, never so sweet, never 
so seasonable as qow : it was the trial that God intended, not the 
fact ; Isaac is sacrificed, and is yet alive : and now both of them 
are more happy in that they would have done, than they could 
have been distressed if they had done it. God's charges are oft- 
times harsh in the beginnings and proceeding, but in the conclu- 
sion always comfortable: true spiritual comforts are commonly 
late and sudden : God defers on purpose that our trials may be 
perfect, our deliverance welcome, our recompense glorious ; Isaac 
had never been so precious to his father, if he had not been re- 
covered from death ; if he had not been as miraculously restored 
as given. Abraham had never been so blessed in his seed, if he 
had not neglected Isaac for God. The only way to find oomfort 
in any earthly thing is to surrender it in a faithful carelessness 
into the hands of God. 

Abraham came to sacrifice, he may not go away with dry 
hands: God cannot abide that good purposes should be frus- 
trated. Lest either he should not do that for which he came, or 
should want means of speedy thanksgiving for so gracious a dis- 
appointment ; behold a ram stands ready for the sacrifice, and 
as it were proffers himself to this happy exchange. He that 
made that beast brings him thither, fastens him there : even in 
small things there is a great providence. What mysteries there 
are in every act of God I the only Son of God, upon this very hill 
is laid upon the altar of the cross ; and so becomes a true sacri- 
fice for the world, that yet he is raised without impeachment, and 
exempted from the power of death : the Lamb of God, which 
takes away the sins of the world, is here really offered and ac- 
cepted : one Saviour in two figures ; in the one dying ; restored 

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cont. v. Of Lot and Sodom. 89 

in the other. So Abraham, while he exercises his faith, confirms 
it, and rejoices more to foresee the true Isaac in that place offered 
to death for his sins, than to see the carnal Isaac preserved from 
death for the reward of his faith. 

Whatsoever is dearest to us upon earth is our Isaac ; happy 
are we if we can sacrifice it to God : those shall never rest with 
Abraham that cannot sacrifice with Abraham. 

OF LOT AND SODOM.— Genesis xiii, xix. 

Before Abraham and Lot grew rich they dwelt together ; now 
their wealth separates them: their society was a greater good 
than their riches. Many a one is a loser by his wealth: who 
would account those things good which make us worse ? 

It had been the duty of young Lot to offer rather than to 
choose, to yield rather than contend : who would not here think 
Abraham the nephew and Lot the uncle ? It is no disparagement 
for greater persons to begin treaties of peace. Better doth it 
beseem every son of Abraham to win with love, than to sway with 
power. Abraham yields over this right of his choice ; Lot takes 
it. And behold, Lot is crossed in that which he chose ; Abraham 
is blessed in that which was left him. God never suffers any 
man to lose by an humble remission of his right in a desire of 

Wealth had made Lot not only undutiful, but covetous; he 
sees the good plains of Jordan, the richness of the soil, the com- 
modity of the rivers, the situation of the cities, and now, not 
once inquiring into the condition of the inhabitants, he is in love 
with Sodom: outward appearances are deceitful guides to our 
judgment or affections : they are worthy to be deceived that value 
things as they seem : it is not long after, that Lot pays dear for 
his rashness. He fled for quietness with his uncle, and finds war 
with strangers : now is he carried prisoner, with all his substance, 
by great enemies ; Abraham must rescue him of whom he was 
forsaken. That wealth which was the cause of his former quar- 
rels is made a prey to merciless heathens : that place which his 
eye covetously chose betrays his life and goods. 

How many Christians, while they have looked at gain, have lost 
themselves I 

Tet this ill success hath neither driven out Lot nor amended 
Sodom; he still loves his commodity, and the Sodomites their 

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40 Of Lot and Sodom. book ii. 

sins: wicked men grow worse with afflictions, as water grows 
more cold after a heat ; and as they leave not sinning, so God 
leaves not plaguing them, but still follows them with successions 
of judgments. In how few years hath Sodom forgot she was 
spoiled and led captive ! If that wicked city had been warned by 
the sword, it had escaped the fire ; but now this visitation hath 
not made ten good men in those five cities : how fit was this heap 
for the fire, which was all chaff! Only Lot vexed his righteous 
soul with the sight of their uncleanness ; he vexed his own soul, 
for who bade him stay there ? yet because he was vexed, he is 
delivered. He escapeth their judgment from whose sihs he 
escaped. Though he would be a guest of Sodom, yet, because 
he would not entertain their sins, he becomes a host to the angels : 
even the good angels are the executioners of God's judgment: 
there cannot be a better or more noble act tlian to do justice 
upon obstinate malefactors. 

Who can be ashamed of that which did not misbeseem the very 
angels of God? Where should the angels lodge but with Lot? 
The houses of holy men are full of these heavenly spirits when 
they know not ; they pitch their tents in ours, and visit us, when 
we see not ; and when we feel not, protect us. It is the honour 
of God's saints to be attended by angels. The filthy Sodomites 
now flock together, stirred up with the fury of envy and lust, and 
dare require to do that in troops, which to act single had been 
too abominable ; to imagine, unnatural : continuance and society 
in evil makes wicked men outrageous and impudent: it is not 
enough for Lot to be the witness, but he must be the bawd also. 
Bring forth these men, that we may know them. Behold I even 
the Sodomites speak modestly, though their acts and intents be 
villanous. What a shame is it for those which profess purity of 
heart to speak filthily ! 

The good man craves and pleads the laws of hospitality ; and 
when he sees headstrong purposes of mischief, chooses rather to 
be an ill father than an ill host : his intention was good, but his 
offer was faulty : if through his allowance the Sodomites had de- 
filed his daughters, it had been his sin ; if through violence they 
had defiled his guests, it had been only theirs : there can be no 
warrant for us to sin, lest others should sin : it is for God to pre- 
vent sins with judgments, it is not for men to prevent a greater 
sin with a less: the best minds when they are troubled yield 
inconsiderate motions; as water that is violently stirred sends 

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com. v. Of Lot and Sodom. 41 

up bubbles: God meant better to Lot than to suffer his weak 
offer to be accepted : those who are bent upon villany are more 
exasperated by dissuasion ; as some strong streams, when they are 
resisted by floodgates, swell over the banks. 

Many a one is hardened by the good word of God ; and instead 
of receiving the counsel, rages at the messenger : when men are 
grown to that pass, that they are no whit better by afflictions, 
and worse with admonitions, God finds it time to strike. Now 
Lot's guests began to shew themselves angels, and first deliver 
Lot in Sodom, then from Sodom ; first strike them with blind- 
ness whom they will after consume with fire. How little did the 
Sodomites think that vengeance was so near them ! While they 
went groping in the street and cursing those whom they could 
not find, Lot with the angels is in secure light, and sees them 
miserable, and foresees them burning. It is the use of God to 
blind and besot those whom he means to destroy : the light which 
they shall see shall be fiery, which shall be the beginning of an 
everlasting darkness, and a fire unquenchable. 

Now they have done sinning, and God begins to judge : wick- 
edness hath but a time, the punishment of wickedness is beyond 
all time. The residue of the night was both short and dangerous. 
Yet, good Lot, though sought for by the Sodomites, and newly 
pulled into his house by the angels, goes forth of his house to 
seek his sons-in-law : no good man would be saved alone ; faith 
makes us charitable with neglect of all peril ; he warns them like 
a prophet, and advises them like a father, but both in vain ; he 
seems to them as if he mocked, and they do more than seem to 
mock him again. " Why should tomorrow differ from other days ? 
Who ever saw it rain fire i or whence should that brimstone come ? 
Or if such showers must fall, how shall nothing burn but this 
valley?" So to carnal men preaching is foolishness, devotion idle- 
ness, the prophets madmen, Paul a babbler : these mens 1 incre- 
dulity is as worthy of the fire as the others' uncleanness. He that 
believes not is condemned already. 

The messengers of God do not only hasten Lot, but pull him 
by a gracious violence out of that impure city. They thirsted at 
once after vengeance upon Sodom and Lot's safety ; they knew 
God could not strike Sodom till Lot were gone out, and that Lot 
could not be safe within those walls. We are naturally in Sodom : 
if God did not hale us out whilst we linger, we should be con- 
demned with the world. If God meet with a very good field, he 

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42 Of Lot and Sodom. book ii. 

pulls up the weeds and lets the corn grow ; if indifferent, he lets 
the corn and weeds grow together ; if very ill, he gathers the 
few ears of corn and burns the weeds. 

Oh the large bounty of God, which reaches not to us only, but 
to ours I God saves Lot for Abraham's sake, and Zoar for Lot's 
sake ; if Sodom had not been too wicked, it had escaped : were 
it not for God's dear children that are intermixed with the 
world, it could not stand : the wicked owe their lives unto those 
few good whom they hate and persecute. 

Now at once the sun rises upon Zoar, and fire falls down upon 
Sodom : Abraham stands upon the hill and sees the cities burn- 
ing ; it is fair weather with God's children when it is foulest with 
the wicked. Those which burned with the fire of lust are now 
consumed with the fire of vengeance : they sinned against nature, 
and now, against the course of nature, fire descends from heaven 
and consumes them. 

Lot may not so much as look at the flame, whether for the 
stay of his passage, or the horror of the sight, or trial of his faith, 
or fear of commiseration. Small precepts from God are of im- 
portance; obedience is as well tried, and disobedience as well 
punished, in little as in much : his wife doth but turn back her 
head, whether in curiosity, or unbelief, or love and compassion of 
the place, she is turned into a monument of disobedience: what 
doth it avail her not to be turned into ashes in Sodom, when she 
is turned into a pillar of salt in the plain I He that saved a whole 
city cannot save his own wife. God cannot abide small sins in 
those whom he hath obliged. If we displease him, God can as 
well meet with us out of Sodom. Lot, now come into Zoar, marvels 
at the stay of her whom he might not before look back to call ; 
and soon after returning to seek her, beholds this change with 
wonder and grief: he finds salt instead of flesh, a pillar instead 
of a wife : he finds Sodom consumed, and her standing ; and is 
more amazed with this, by how much it was both more near him 
and less expected. 

When God delivers us from destruction, he doth not secure us 
from all afflictions. Lot hath lost his wife, his allies, his substance, 
and now betakes himself to an uncomfortable solitariness. 

Tet though he fled from company, he could not fly from sin : 
he who could not be tainted with uncleanness in Sodom, is over- 
taken with drunkenness and incest in a cave : rather than Satan 
shall want baits, his own daughters will prove Sodomites ; those 

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coxt. v. Of Lot and Sodom. 43 

which should have comforted, betrayed him : how little are some 
hearts moved with judgments! the ashes of Sodom, and the 
pillar of salt, were not yet out of their eye, when they dare think 
of lying with their own father. They knew that whilst Lot was 
sober, he could not be unchaste : drunkenness is the way of all 
bestial affections and acts. Wine knows no difference either of 
persons or cans. No doubt Lot was afterwards ashamed of his 
incestuous seed, and now wished he had come alone out of Sodom ; 
yet even this unnatural bed was blessed with increase ; and one 
of our Saviour's worthy ancestors sprung after from this line. 
God's election is not tied to our means, neither are blessings or 
curses ever traduced : the chaste bed of holy parents hath oft- 
times bred a monstrous generation; and contrarily, God hath 
raised sometimes a holy seed from the drunken bed of incest or 
fornication. It hath been seen that weighty ears of corn have 
grown out of the compass of the tilled field ; thus will God mag- 
nify the freedom of his own choice, and let us know that we are 
not born, but made good. 





Right honourable, — I know, and in all humility confess, how weak my dis- 
course is, and how unworthy of this dirine subject which I hare undertaken ; 
which if an angel from heaven should say he could sufficiently comment upon, 
I should distrust him : yet this let me say, without any vain boasting, that 
these thoughts, such as they are, through the blessing of God, I have woven 
out of myself; as holding it after our Saviour's rule, better to give than to 
receive. It is easier to heap together large volumes of others' labours, than to 
work out lesser of our own; and the suggestion of one new thought is bettor 
than many repeated. 

This part (which together with the author is your's) shall present to your 
lordship the busiest of all the patriarchs, together with his trials and success : 

» Afterwards earl of Norwich. 

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44 Of Jacob and Esau. book hi. 

wherein you shall see Esau stripped by fraud of that which he willingly sold ; 
Jacob's hard adventures for the blessing, and no less hard services for his 
wives and substance, his dangerous encounters ending joyfully, the rape of his 
only daughter, seconded with the treacherous murder of his sons ; Judah's 
wrong to Tamar repaid by his own uncleanness ; Joseph's sale, imprisonment, 
honour, piety ; the sin of his brethren well bestowed, well answered. I so 
touch at the uses of all these, as one that knows it is easy to say more, and 
impossible to say enough. God give a blessing to my endeavours, and a 
pardon to my weakness, to your lordship an increase of his graces, and per- 
fection of all happiness. 

Your lordship's humbly and officiously devoted in all duty, 


OF JACOB AND ESAU.— Genesis xxv-xxvii. 

Of all the patriarchs, none make so little noise in the world as 
Isaac ; none lived either so privately or so innocently : neither 
know I whether he approved himself a better son or husband. 
For the one, he gave himself over to the knife of his father, 
and mourned three years for his mother ; for the other, he sought 
not to any handmaid's bed, but in a chaste forbearance reserved 
himself for twenty years' space, and prayed: Rebecca was so 
long barren : his prayers proved more effectual than his seed. 
At last she conceived, as if she had been more than the daughter- 
in-law to Sarah, whose son was given her, not out of the power 
of nature, but of her husband's faith. 

God is oft better to us than we would : Isaac prays for a son, 
God gives him two at once : now she is no less troubled with the 
strife of the children in her womb, than before with the want of 
children : we know not when we are pleased ; that which we de- 
sire ofttimes discontents us more in the fruition ; we are ready to 
complain both full and fasting. Before Rebecca conceived she 
was at ease : before spiritual regeneration there is all peace in 
the soul ; no sooner is the new man formed in us, but the flesh 
conflicts with the spirit. There is no grace where is no unquiet- 
ness : Esau alone would not have striven ; nature will ever agree 
with itself. Never any Rebecca conceived only an Esau, or was 
so happy as to conceive none but a Jacob : she must be the mother 
of both, that she may have both joy and exercise. This strife be- 
gan early; every true Israelite begins his war with his being. 
How many actions which we know not of are not without presage 
and signification ! 

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cont. i. Of Jacob and Esau. 45 

These two were the champions of two nations ; the field was 
their mother's womb ; their quarrel precedency and superiority. 
Esau got the right of nature, Jacob of grace : yet that there 
might be some pretence of equality, lest Esau should outrun his 
brother into the world, Jacob holds him fast by the heel : so his 
hand was born before the other's foot : but because Esau is some 
minutes the elder, that the younger might have better claim to 
that which God had promised, he buys that which he could not 
win : if either by strife, or purchase, or suit, we can attain spi- 
ritual blessings, we are happy : if Jacob had come forth first, he 
had not known how much he was bound to God for the favour of 
his advancement. 

There was never any meat, except the forbidden fruit, so dear 
bought as this broth of Jacob ; in both, the receiver and the eater 
is accursed : every true sou of Israel will be content to purchase 
spiritual favours with earthly; and that man hath in him too 
much of the blood of Esau, which will not rather die than forego 
his birthright. 

But what hath careless Esau lost, if having sold his birthright 
he may obtain the blessing ? Or what hath Jacob gained, if his 
brother's venison may countervail his pottage ? Yet thus hath old 
Isaac decreed ; who was now not more blind in his eyes than in 
his affections: God had forewarned him that the elder should 
serve the younger, yet Isaac goes about to bless Esau. 

It was not so hard for Abraham to reconcile God's promise 
and Isaac's sacrifice, as for Isaac to reconcile the superiority of 
Jacob with Esau's benediction ; for God's hand was in that, in 
this none but his own: the dearest of God's saints have been 
sometimes transported with natural affections: ho saw himself 
preferred to Ishmael, though the elder ; he saw his father wil- 
fully forgetting nature at God's command, in binding him for 
sacrifice ; he saw Esau lewdly matched with heathens, and yet he 
will remember nothing but " Esau is my firstborn :" but how 
gracious is God, that when we would, will not let us sin ; and 
so orders our actions that we do not what we will, but what we 
ought ! 

That God, which had ordained the lordship to the younger, 
will also contrive for him the blessing : what he will have effected 
shall not want means: the mother shall rather defeat the son 
and beguile the father, than the father shall beguile the chosen 
son of his blessing. What was Jacob to Rebecca more than Esau ? 

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46 Of Jacob and Esau. book hi. 

or what mother doth not more affect the elder 1 But now God 
inclines the love of the mother to the younger against the custom 
of nature, because the father loves the elder against the promise : 
the affections of the parents are divided that the promise might 
be fulfilled ; Rebecca's craft shall answer Isaac's partiality : Isaac 
would unjustly turn Esau into Jacob, Rebecca doth as cunningly 
turn Jacob into Esau : her desire was good, her means were un- 
lawful : God doth ofttimes effect his just will by our weaknesses ; 
yet neither thereby justifying our infirmities, nor blemishing his 
own actions. 

Here was nothing but counterfeiting; a feigned person, a 
feigned name, feigned venison, a feigned answer, and yet behold 
a true blessing ; but to the man, not to the means : those were so 
unsound, that Jacob himself doth more fear their curse than hope 
for their success. Isaac was now both simple and old ; yet if he 
had perceived the fraud, Jacob had been more sure of a curse 
than he could be sure that he should not be perceived. 

Those which are plain hearted in themselves are the bitterest 
enemies to deceit in others ; Rebecca, presuming upon the oracle 
of God and her husband's simplicity, dare be surety for the 
danger, his counsellor for the carriage of the business, his cook 
for the diet, yea, dresses both the meat and the man ; and now 
puts words into his mouth, the dish into his hand, the garments 
upon his back, the goat's hair upon the open parts of his body, 
and sends him in thus furnished for the blessing ; standing, no 
doubt, at the door, to see how well her lesson was learned, how 
well her device succeeded. And if old Isaac should by any of his 
senses have discerned the guile, she had soon stepped in and 
undertaken the blame, and urged him with that known will of 
God concerning Jacob's dominion and Esau's servitude, which 
either age or affection had made him forget. 

And now she wishes she could borrow Esau's tongue as well as 
his garments, that she might securely deceive all the senses of 
him which had suffered himself to be more dangerously deceived 
with his affection: but this is past her remedy, her son must 
name himself Esau with the voice of Jacob. It is hard if our 
tongue do not bewray what we are in spite of our habit This 
was enough to work Isaac to a suspicion, to an inquiry, not to an 
incredulity : he that is good of himself will hardly believe evil 
of another, and will rather distrust his own senses than the fidelity 
of those he trusted. All the senses are set to examine ; none 

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coxt. i. Of Jacob and Esau. 47 

Bticketh at the judgment but the ear ; to deceive that, Jacob 
must second his dissimulation with three lies at one breath : lam 
Esau; as thou badest me; my venison: one sin entertained 
fetcheth in another ; and if it be forced to lodge alone, either 
departeth or dieth : I love Jacob's blessing, but I hate his lie. I 
would not do that wilfully, which Jacob did weakly, upon con- 
dition of a blessing : he that pardoned his infirmity would curse 
my obstinateness. 

Good Isaac sets his hands to try whether his ears informed him 
aright ; he feels the hands of him whose voice he suspected : that 
honest heart could not think that the skin might more easily be 
counterfeited than the lungs : a small satisfaction contents those 
whom guiltiness hath not made scrupulous: Isaac believes and 
blesses the younger son in the garments of the elder : if our hea- 
venly Father smell upon our backs the savour of our elder Bro- 
ther's robes, we cannot depart from him unblessed. 

No sooner is Jacob gone away full of the joy of his blessing, 
than Esau comes in full of the hope of the blessing : and now he 
cannot repent him to have sold that in his hunger for pottage, 
which in his pleasure he shall buy again with venison. The 
hopes of the wicked fail them when they are at highest, whereas 
God's children find those comforts in extremity which they durst 
not expect. 

Now he comes in blowing and sweating for his reward, and 
finds nothing but a repulse: lewd men, when they think they 
have earned of God, and come proudly to challenge favour, re- 
ceive no answer but, Who art thou ? Both the father and the son 
wonder at each other ; the one with fear, the other with grief. 
Isaac trembled and Esau wept; the one upon conscience, the 
other upon envy. Isaac's heart now told him, that he should not 
have purposed the blessing where he did, and that it was due to 
him unto whom it was given and not purposed ; hence he durst 
not reverse that which he had done with God's will, besides his 
own : for now he saw that he had done unwilling justice : God 
will find both time and means to reclaim his own, to prevent their 
sins, to manifest and reform their errors. Who would have looked 
for tears from Esau ? or who dare trust tears, when he sees them 
fall from so graceless eyes ? 

It was a good word, Bless me also, my father : every miscreant 
can wish himself well : no man would be miserable if it were 
enough to desire happiness : why did he not rather weep to his 

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48 Of Jacob and Esau. book n. 

brother for the pottage, thin to Isaac for a blessing ? If he had 
not then sold, he had not needed now to beg : it is just with God 
to deny us those favours which we were careless in keeping, and 
which we undervalued in enjoying. Esau's tears find no place 
for Isaac's repentance; except it were that he hath done that 
by wile which he should have done upon duty. 

No motive can cause a good heart to repent that he hath done 
well. How happy a thing it is to know the seasons of grace, and 
not to neglect them ! how desperate to have known and neglected 
them ! These tears were both late and false ; the tears of rage, 
of envy, of carnal desire ; worldly sorrow causeth death : yet 
while Esau howls out thus for a blessing, I hear him cry out, 
of his father's store, Hast thou but one blessing, my father f of 
his brother's subtlety, Was he not rightly called Jacob ? I do not 
hear him blame his own deserts. He did not see, while his father 
was deceived, and his brother crafty, that God was just, and himself 
uncapable : he knew Rimself profane, and yet claims a blessing. 

Those that care not to please God, yet care for the outward 
favours of God, and are ready to murmur if they want them ; as 
if God were bound to them and they free. And yet so merciful 
is God, that he hath second blessings for those that love him not, 
and gives them all they care for. That one blessing of special 
love is for none but Israel ; but those of common kindness arc for 
them that can sell their birthright : this blessing was more than 
Esau could be worthy bf ; yet, like a second Cain, he resolves to 
kill his brother, because he was more accepted ; I know not whe- 
ther he were a worse son or brother ; he hopes for his father's 
death, and purposes his brother's, and vows to shed blood instead 
of tears. But wicked men cannot be so ill as they would ; that 
strong Wrestler, against whom Jacob prevailed, prevailed with 
Esau, and turned his wounds into kisses. A host of men came 
with Esau, an army of angels met Jacob. Esau threatened, Jacob 
prayed : his prayers and presents have melted the heart of Esau 
into love. And now, instead of the grim and stern countenance 
of an executioner, Jacob sees the face of Esau as the face of God. 
Both men and devils are stinted, the stoutest heart cannot stand 
out against God. He, that can wrestle earnestly with God, is 
secure from the harms of men. Those minds which are exaspe- 
rated with violence, and cannot be broken with fear, yet are 
bowed with love : when the ways of a man please God, he will make 
his enemies at peace with him. 

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™*t- "• Of Jacob and Lahan, 49 

OF JACOB AND LABAN.— Genesis xxix-xxxiii. 
Isaac's life was not more retired and quiet, than Jacob's was 
busy and troublesome. In the one I see the image of contempla- 
tion ; of action, in the other. None of the patriarchs saw so 
evil days as he ; from whom justly hath the church of God there- 
fore taken her name. Neither were the faithful ever since called 
Abrahamites, but Israelites. That no time might be lost, he be- 
gan his strife in the womb; after that, he flies for his life from 
a cruel brother to a cruel uncle. With a staff goes he over Jordan 
alone, doubtful and comfortless, not like the son of Isaac. In the 
way the earth is his bed and a stone his pillow ; yet even there 
he sees a vision of angels : Jacob's heart was never so full of joy 
as when his head lay hardest. God is most present with us in 
our greatest dejection, and loves to give comfort to those that 
are forsaken of their hopes. 

He came far to find out a hard friend ; and of a nephew be- 
comes a servant. No doubt when Laban heard of his sister's son, 
he looked for the camels and attendance that came to fetch his 
sister Rebecca ; not thinking that Abraham's servant could come 
better furnished than Isaac's son : but now, when he saw nothing 
but a staff, he looks upon him, not as an uncle, but a master ; and 
while he pretends to offer him a wife as a reward of his service, 
he craftily requires his service as the dowry of his wife. 

After the service of a hard apprenticeship hath earned her 
whom he loved, his wife is changed, and he is in a sort forced 
to an unwilling adultery : his mother had before, in a cunning 
disguise, substituted him who was the younger son for the elder, 
and now, not long after, his father-in-law, by a like fraud, sub- 
stitutes to him the elder daughter for the younger : God comes 
oftentimes home to us in our own kind ; and even by the sin of ^ 
others pays us our own, when we look not for it. It is doubtful 
whether it were a greater cross to marry whom he would not, or to 
be disappointed of her whom he desired. And now he must begin a 
new hope, where he made account of fruition. To raise up an 
expectation once frustrate, is more difficult than to continue a 
long hope drawn on with likelihoods of performance ; yet thus 
dear is Jacob content to pay for Rachel, fourteen years' servi- 
tude. Commonly God's children come not easily by their plea- 
sures : what miseries will not love digest and overcome ? and if 
Jacob were willingly consumed with heat in the day, and frost 


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50 Of Jacob and Laban. book hi. 

in the night, to become the son-in-law to Laban, what should we 
refuse to be the sons of God ? 

Rachel, whom he loved, is barren: Leah, who was despised, 
is fruitful: how wisely God weighs out to us our favours and 
crosses in an equal balance ; so tempering our sorrows that they 
may not oppress, and our joys that they may not transport us ! 
Each one hath some matter of envy to others, and of grief to 
himself. Leah envies Rachel's beauty and love; Rachel envies 
Leah's fruitfulness ; yet Leah would not be barren, nor Rachel 

I see in Rachel the image of her grandmother Sarah ; both 
in her beauty of person, in her actions, in her success : she also 
will needs suborn her handmaid to make her a mother ; and at 
last, beyond hope, herself conceiveth : it is a weak greediness 
in us to affect God's blessings by unlawful means ; what a proof 
and praise had it been of her faith, if she had staid God's leisure, 
and would rather have endured her barrenness than her hus- 
band's polygamy ! Now she shows herself the daughter of La- 
ban; the father for covetousness, the daughters for emulation, 
have drawn sin into Jacob's bed: he offended in yielding, but 
they more in soliciting him, and therefore the fact is not imputed 
to Jacob, but to them. In those sins which Satan draws us into, 
the blame is ours ; in those which we move each other unto, the 
most fault and punishment lies upon the tempter. None of the 
patriarchs divided his seed into so many wombs as Jacob; none 
was so much crossed in his seed. 

Thus, rich in nothing but wives and children, was he now re- 
turning to his father's house, accounting his charge his wealth. 
But God meant him yet more good. Laban sees that both his 
family and his flocks were well increased by Jacob's service. Not 
his love therefore but his gain makes him loath to part. Even 
Laban's covetousness is made by God the means to enrich Jacob. 

Behold, his strait master entreats him to that recompense 
which made his nephew mighty and himself envious; God, con- 
sidering his hard service, paid him wages out of Laban's folds. 
Those flocks and herds that had but few spotted sheep and goats 
until Jacob's covenant, then, as if the fashion had been altered, 
they all ran into party colours; the most and best, as if they 
had been weary of their former owner, changed the colours of 
their young, that they might change their master. 

In the very shapes and colours of brute creatures there is a 

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cont. ii. Of Jacob and Laban. 51 

divine hand, which disposeth them to his own ends. Small and 
unlikely means shall prevail where Ood intends an effect. Little 
peeled sticks of hazel or poplar laid in the troughs shall enrich 
Jacob with an increase of his spotted flocks ; Laban's sons might 
haye tried the same means and failed: God would have Laban 
know that he put a difference betwixt Jacob and him ; that as 
for fourteen years he had multiplied Jacob's charge of cattle to 
Laban, so now for the last six years he would multiply Laban's 
flock to Jacob : and if Laban had the more, yet the better were 
Jacob's : even in these outward things God's children have many 
times sensible tastes of his favours above the wicked. 

I know not whether Laban were a worse uncle or father or 
master : he can like well Jacob's service, not his wealth. As the 
wicked have no peace with God, so the godly have no peace with 
men ; for if they prosper not, they are despised ; if they prosper, 
they are envied. 

This uncle, whom his service had made his father, must now 
upon his wealth be fled from as an enemy, and like an enemy 
pursues him : if Laban had meant to have taken a peaceable 
leave, he had never spent seven days' journey in following his 
innocent son: Jacob knew his churlishness, and therefore re- 
solved rather to be unmannerly than injured: well might he 
think, that he, whose oppression changed his wages so often in 
his stay, would also abridge his wages in the parting; now, 
therefore, he wisely prefers his own estate to Laban's love : it is 
not good to regard too much the unjust discontentment of worldly 
men, and to purchase unprofitable favour with too great loss. 

Behold: Laban follows Jacob with one troop, Esau meets 
him with another, both with hostile intentions ; both go on till 
the utmost point of their execution ; both are prevented ere the 
execution. God makes fools of the enemies of his church ; he 
lets them proceed, that they may be frustrate, and when they 
are gone to the utmost reach of their tether, he pulls them back 
to their task with shame. Lo now, Laban leaves Jacob with a 
kiss; Esau meets him with a kiss: of the one he hath an oath, 
teare of the other, peace with both : who shall need to fear man 
that is in league with God ? 

But what a wonder is this ! Jacob received not so much hurt 
from all his enemies as from his best friend ! Not one of his 
hairs perished by Laban or Esau ; yet he lost a joint by the 
angel, and was sent halting to his grave: he, that knows our 

b 2 

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52 Jacob and Laban. Book in. 

strength, yet will wrestle with us for our exercise, and loves our 
violence and importunity. 

O happy loss of Jacob ! he lost a joint, and won a blessing : it 
is a favour to halt from God, yet this favour is seconded with a 
greater. He is blessed, because he would rather halt than leave 
ere he was blessed. If he had left sooner, he had not halted, 
but he had not prospered. That man shall go away sound, but 
miserable, that loves a limb more than a blessing. Surely if 
Jacob had not wrestled with God, he had been foiled with evils : 
How many are tlie troubles of the righteous I 

Not long after, Rachel, the comfort of his life, dieth ; and 
when, but in her travail, and in his travel to his father? when 
he had now before digested in his thoughts the joy and gratula- 
tion of his aged father, for so welcome a burden ! His children, 
the staff of his age, wound his soul to the death : Reuben proves 
incestuous ; Judah, adulterous; Dinah, ravished; Simeon and Levi, 
murderous; Er and Onan, stricken dead; Joseph, lost; Simeon, 
imprisoned ; Benjamin, the death of his mother, the father's 
right hand, endangered ; himself driven by famine in his old age 
to die amongst the Egyptians, a people that held it abomination 
to eat with him. If that angel, with whom he strove, and who 
therefore strove for him, had not delivered his soul out of all 
adversity, he had been supplanted with evils* and had been so 
far from gaining the name of Israel, that he had lost the name of 
Jacob : now what son of Israel can hope for good days, when he 
hears his father's were so evil? It is enough for us, if, when we 
are dead, we can rest with him in the land of promise. If the 
Angel of the Covenant once bless us, no pain, no sorrows, can 
make us miserable. 

OF DINAH.— Genesis xxiv. 

I find but one only daughter of Jacob, who must needs there- 
fore be a great darling to her father : and she so miscarries, that 
she causes her father's grief to be more than his love. As her 
mother Leah, so she hath a fault in her eyes, which was curiosity : 
she will needs see, and be seen ; and while she doth vainly see, 
she is seen lustfully. It is not enough for us to look to our own 
thoughts, except we beware of the provocations of others : if we 
once wander out of the lists that God hath set us in our callings, 

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cont. in. Of Dinah. 53 

there is nothing but danger : her virginity had been safe, if she 
had kept home ; or if Shechem had forced her in her mother's 
tent, this loss of her virginity had been without her sin ; now she 
ib not innocent that gave the occasion. 

Her eyes were guilty of the temptation ; only to see, is an in- 
sufficient warrant to draw us into places of spiritual hazard : if 
Shechem had seen her busy at home, his love had been free from 
outrage ; now the lightness of her presence gave encouragement 
to his inordinate desires. Immodesty of behaviour makes way 
to lust, and gives life unto wicked hopes ; yet Shechem bewrays 
a good nature even in filthiness; he loves Dinah after his sin, 
and will needs marry her whom he had defiled. Commonly lust 
ends in loathing ; Amnon abhors Tamar as much after his act 
as before he loved her ; and beats her out of doors whom he was 
sick to bring in. But Shechem would not let Dinah fare the 
worse for his sin. And now he goes about to entertain her with 
honest love, whom the rage of his lust had dishonestly abused. 
Her deflouring shall be no prejudice to her, since her shame shall 
redound to none but him, and he will hide her dishonour with 
the name of a husband. What could he now do, but sue to his 
father, to heir's, to herself, to her brethren ; intreating that with 
humble submission, which he might have obtained by violence? 
Those actions which are ill begun can hardly be salved up with 
late satisfactions ; whereas good entrances give strength unto the 
proceedings, and success to the end. 

The young man's father doth not only consent, but solicit; 
and is ready to purchase a daughter either with substance or 
pain : the two old men would have ended the matter peaceably ; 
but youth commonly undertakes rashly, and performs with pas- 
sion. The sons of Jacob think of nothing but revenge, and, 
which is worst of all, begin their cruelty with craft, and hide 
their craft with religion : a smiling malice is most deadly ; and 
hatred doth most rankle the heart when it is kept in and dis- 
sembled. We cannot give our sister to an tmcircumcised man : 
here was Ood in the mouth and Satan in the heart : the bloodiest 
of all projects have ever wont to be coloured with religion ; be- 
cause the worse any thing is, the better show it desires to make : 
and contrarily, the better colour is put upon any vice, the more 
odious it is ; for as every simulation adds to an evil, so the best 
adds most evil. Themselves had taken the daughters and sisters 
of uncircumcised men ; yea, Jacob himself did so ; why might 

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54 OfDina/i. book hi. 

not an uncircumcised roan obtain their sister? Or if there be a 
difference of giving and taking, it had been well if it had not 
been only pretended. It had been a happy ravishment of Dinah 
that should have drawn a whole country into the bosom of the 
church ; but here was a sacrament intended, not to the good of 
the soul, but to murder of the body : it was a hard task for 
Hamor and Shechem, not only to put the knife to their own 
foreskins, but to persuade a multitude to so painful a condition. 

The sons of Jacob dissemble with them; they, with the 
people : Shall not their flocks and substance be ours f Common 
profit is pretended, whereas only Shechem's pleasure is meant. 
No motive is so powerful to the vulgar sort as the name of 
commodity : the hope of this makes them prodigal of their skin 
and blood ; not the love to the sacrament, not the love to She- 
chem : sinister respects draw more to the profession of religion 
than conscience : if it were not for the loaves and fishes, the train 
of Christ would be less. But the sacraments of God misreceived 
never prosper in the end. These men are content to smart, so 
they may gain. 

And now that every man lies sore of his own wound, Simeon 
and Levi rush in armed, and wound all the males to death: 
Cursed be their wrath, for it was fierce; and their rage, for it 
was cruel. Indeed, filthiness should not have been wrought 
in Israel : yet murder should not have been wrought by Israel. 
If they had been fit judges, which were but bloody executioners, 
how far doth the punishment exceed the fault 1 To punish above 
the offence is no less injustice than to offend : one offendeth, and 
all feel the revenge; yea all, though innocent, suffer that re- 
venge which he that offended deserved not. Shechem sinneth, 
but Dinah tempted him ; she, that was so light as to wander 
abroad alone only to gaze, I fear was not over difficult to yield : 
and if, having wrought her shame, he had driven her home with 
disgrace to her father's tent, such tyrannous lust had justly 
called for blood ; but now he craves, and offers, and would pay 
dear for but leave to give satisfaction. 

To execute rigour upon a submiss offender is more merciless 
than just; or if the punishment had been both just and pro- 
portionable from another, yet from them which had vowed peace 
and affinity it was shamefully unjust. To disappoint the trust of 
another, and to neglect our own promise and fidelity for private 
purposes, adds faithlessness unto our cruelty. That they were 

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co.vt. iv. OfJudah and Tamar. 55 

impotent, it was through their circumcision: what impiety was 
this ; instead of honouring an holy sign, to take an advantage 
by it! 

What shrieking was there now in the streets of the city of the 
Hiyites ! And how did the beguiled Shechemites, when they saw 
the swords of the two brethren, die, cursing that sacrament in 
their hearts which had betrayed them ! Even their curses were 
the sins of Simeon and Levi ; whose fact, though it were abhorred 
by their father, yet it was seconded by their brethren. Their 
spoil makes good the others' slaughter. Who would have looked 
to have found this outrage in the family of Jacob ? How did that 
good patriarch, when he saw Dinah come home blubbered and 
wringing her hands, Simeon and Levi sprinkled with blood, wish 
that Leah had been barren as long as Rachel! Good parents 
hare grief enough (though they sustain no blame) for their chil- 
dren's sins. What great evils arise from small beginnings ! The 
idle curiosity of Dinah hath bred all this mischief; ravishment 
follows upon her wandering ; upon her ravishment, murder ; upon 
the murder, spoil : it is holy and safe to be jealous of the first 
occasions of evil, either done or suffered. 

OF JUDAH AND TAMA R.- Genesis xxxviii. 

I find not many of Jacob's sons more faulty than Judah ; who 
yet is singled out from all the rest to be the royal progenitor of 
Christ, and to be honoured with the dignity of the birthright, 
that God's election might not be of merit, but of grace ; else, 
howsoever he might have sped alone, Tamar had never been joined 
with him in this line. Even Judah marries a Canaanite ; it is no 
marvel though his seed prosper not : and yet, that good children 
may not be too much discouraged with their unlawful propaga- 
tion, the fathers of the promised seed are raised from an in- 
cestuous bed. 

Judah was very young, scarce from under the rod of his father, 
yet he takes no other counsel for his marriage but from his own 
eyes, which were like his sister Dinah's, roving and wanton. 
What better issue could be expected from such beginnings ? Those 
proud Jews, that glory so much of their pedigree and name from 
this patriarch, may now choose whether thoy will have their 
mother a Canaanite or an harlot. 

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56 OfJudah and Tamar. book hi. 

Even in these things ofttimes the birth follows the belly. His 
eldest son Er is too wicked to live ; God strikes him dead ere he 
can leave any issue, not abiding any scions to grow out of so bad 
a stock : notorious sinners God reserves to his own vengeance. 
He doth not inflict sensible judgments upon all his enemies, lest 
the wicked should think there were no punishment abiding for 
them elsewhere : he doth inflict such judgments upon some, lest 
he should seem careless of evil. It were as easy for him to strike 
all dead as one ; but he had rather all should be warned by one, 
and would have his enemies find him merciful, as well as his 
children just. 

His brother Onan sees the judgment, and yet follows his sins. 
Every little thing discourages us from good; nothing can alter 
the heart that is set upon evil. Er was not worthy of any love ; 
but though he were a miscreant, yet he was a brother. Seed 
should have been raised to him ; Onan justly loses his life with 
his seed, which he would rather spill than lend to a wicked 
brother. Some duties we owe to humanity, more to nearness of 
blood. Ill deservings of others can be no excuse for our injustice, 
for our uncharitableness. That which Tamar required, Moses 
afterward, as from God, commanded ; the succession of brothers 
into the barren bed : some laws God spake to his church, long 
ere he wrote them : while the author is certainly known, the 
voice and the finger of God are worthy of equal respect. 

Judah hath lost two sons, and now doth but promise the third, 
whom he sins in not giving. It is the weakness of nature, rather 
to hazard a sin than a danger ; and to neglect our own duty for 
wrongful suspicion of others: though he had lost his son in 
giving him, yet he should have given him : a faithful man's pro- 
mise is his debt, which no fear of damage can dispense with. 

But whereupon was this slackness? Judah feared that some 
unhappiness in the bed of Tamar was the cause of his son's mis- 
carriage, whereas it was their fault that Tamar was both a widow 
and childless. Those that are but the patients of evil are many 
times burthened with suspicions; and therefore are ill thought 
of because they fare ill : afflictions would not be so heavy, if they 
did not lay us open unto uncharitable conceits. 

What difference God puts betwixt sins of wilfulness and in- 
firmity ! The son's pollution ib punished with present death ; the 
father's incest is pardoned, and in a sort prospereth. 

Now Tamar seeks by subtlety that which she could not have 

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cont. iv. Of Judah and Tamar. 57 

by award of justice : the neglect of due retributions drives men 
to indirect courses ; neither know I whether they sin more in 
righting themselves wrongfully, or the other in not righting 
them. She therefore takes upon her the habit of an harlot that 
she might perform the act: if she had not wished to seem an 
whore, she had not worn that attire, nor chosen that place. Im- 
modesty of outward fashion or gesture bewrays evil desires ; the 
heart that means well will never wish to seem ill ; for commonly 
we affect to show better than we are. Many harlots will put on 
the semblances of chastity, of modesty ; never the contrary. It is 
no trusting those which do not wish to appear good. Judah 
esteems her by her habit : and now the sight of an harlot hath 
stirred up in him a thought of lust; Satan finds well that a fit 
object is half a victory. 

Who would not be ashamed to see a son of Jacob thus trans- 
ported with filthy affections ! At the first sight he is inflamed ; 
neither yet did he see the face of her whom he lusted after : it 
was enough motive to him that she was a woman ; neither could 
the presence of his neighbour the Adullamite compose those 
wicked thoughts, or hinder bis unchaste acts. 

That sin must needs be impudent which can abide a witness ; 
yea, so hath his lust besotted him, that he cannot discern the 
voice of Tamar, that he cannot foresee the danger of his shame 
in parting with such pledges. There is no passion which doth 
not for the time bereave a man of himself. 

Tamar had learned not to trust him without a pawn : he had 
promised his son to her as a daughter, and failed ; now he pro- 
mised a kid to her as an harlot, and performeth it : whether his 
pledge constrained him, or the power of his word, I inquire not : 
many are faithful in all things, save those which are the greatest 
and dearest : if his credit had been as much endangered in the 
former promise, he had kept it. Now hath Tamar requited him. 
She expected long the enjoying of his promised son, and he per- 
formed not : but here he performs the promise of the kid, and 
she stays not to expect it. Judah is sorry that he cannot pay 
the hire of his lust, and now feareth lest he shall be beaten with 
his own staff; lest his signet shall be used to confirm and seal his 
reproach; resolving not to know them, and wishing they were 
unknown of others. Shame is the easiest wages of sin, and the 
surest, which ever begins first in ourselves. Nature is not more 
forward to commit sin than willing to hide it. 

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58 Of Judah and Tamar. book hi. 

I hear as yet of no remorse in Judah, but fear of shame. 
Three months hath his sin slept, and now, when he is securest, 
it awakes and baits him. News is brought him that Tamar be- 
gins to swell with her conception ; and now he swells with rage, 
and calls her forth to the flame like a rigorous judge, without so 
much as staying for the time of her deliverance, that his cruelty 
in this justice should be no less ill than the unjustice of occasion- 
ing it. If Judah had not forgotten his sin, his pity had been 
more than his hatred to this of his daughter's. How easy is it 
to detest those sins in others which we flatter in ourselves! 
Tamar doth not deny the sin nor refuse punishment, but calls 
for that partner in her punishment which was her partner in the 
sin : the staff, the signet, the handkerchief, accuse and convince 
Judah ; and now he blushes at his own sentence, much more at 
his act, and cries out. She is more righteous than II God will 
find a time to bring his children upon their knees, and to wring 
from them penitent confessions; and rather than he will not 
have them soundly ashamed, he will make them the trumpets of 
their own reproach. 

Yet doth he not offer himself to the flame with her, but rather 
excuses her by himself. This relenting in his own case shamed 
his former zeal : even in the best men nature is partial to itself : 
it is good so to sentence others' frailties, that yet we remember 
our own ; whether those that have been or may be : with what 
shame, yea, with what horror, must Judah needs look upon the 
great belly of Tamar ; and on her two sons, the monuments of 
his filthiness 1 How must it needs wound his soul, to hear them 
call him both father and grandfather; to call her mother and 
sister 1 If this had not cost him many a sigh, he had no more 
escaped his father's curse than Reuben did : 1 see the difference 
not of sins, but of men : remission goes not by the measure of 
the sin, but the quality of the sinner ; yea, rather the mercy of 
the Forgiver : Blessed is the man (not that sins not, but) to whom 
the Lord imputes not his sin. 

OF JOSEPH.— Genesis xxxvii, xxxix-xlv. 
I marvel not that Joseph had the double portion of Jacob's 
land, who had more than two parts of his sorrows : none of his 
sons did so truly inherit his afflictions ; none of them was either 
so miserable or so great : suffering is the way to glory. 

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cont. v. Of Joseph. 59 

I see in him not a clearer type of Christ than of every Christian ; 
because we are dear to our Father, and complain of sins, therefore 
are we hated of our carnal brethren : if Joseph had not meddled 
with his brothers 1 faults, yet he had been envied for his father's 
affection; but now malice is met with envy: there is nothing 
more thankless or dangerous than to stand in the way of a reso- 
lute sinner. That which doth correct and oblige the penitent 
makes the wilful mind furious and revengeful 

All the spite of his brethren cannot make Joseph cast off the 
livery of his father's love : what need we care for the censures of 
men, if our hearts can tell us that we are in favour with God ? 

But what meant young Joseph, to add unto his own envy by 
reporting his dreams ? The concealment of our hopes or abilities 
hath not more modesty than safety : he that was envied for his 
dearness, and hated for bis intelligence, was both envied and hated 
for his dreams. Surely God meant to make the relation of these 
dreams a means to effect that which the dreams imported. We 
men work by likely means ; God, by contraries. The main quarrel 
was, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Had it not been for his 
dreams, he had not been sold; if he had not been sold, he had 
not been exalted. So Joseph's state had not deserved envy, if his 
dreams had not caused him to be envied. 

Full little did Joseph think, when he went to seek his brethren, 
that this was the last time he should see his father's house : full 
little did his brethren think, when they sold him naked to the 
Ishmaelites, to have once seen him in the throne of Egypt. 
God's decree runs on ; and while we either think not of it, or 
oppose it, is performed. 

In an honest and obedient simplicity, Joseph comes to inquire 
of his brethren's health, and now may not return to carry news 
of his own misery : while he thinks of their welfare, they are 
plotting his destruction ; Come, let us slay him. Who would have 
expected this cruelty in them which should be the fathers of 
God's church ? It was thought a favour that Reuben's entreaty 
obtained for him, that he might be cast into the pit alive, to die 
there. He looked for brethren ; and behold, murderers ; every 
man's tongue, every man's fist, was bent against him : each one 
strives who shall lay the first hand upon that changeable coat, 
which was dyed with their father's love and their envy ; and now 
they have stripped him naked, and haling him by both arms, 

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60 Of Joseph. book in. 

as it were, cast him alive into his grave. So, in pretence of for- 
bearance, they resolve to torment him with a lingering death: 
the savagest robbers could not have been more merciless; for 
now besides, what in them lies, they kill their father in their 
brother. Nature, if it once degenerate, grows more monstrous 
and extreme than a disposition born to cruelty. 

All this while Joseph wanted neither words nor tears ; but, 
like a passionate suppliant, bowing his bare knees to them whom 
he dreamed should bow to Him, entreats and persuades, by the 
dear name of their brotherhood, by their profession of one com- 
mon God, for their father's sake, for their own souls' sake, not to 
sin against his blood. But envy hath shut out mercy, and makes 
them not only forget themselves to be brethren, but men. What 
stranger can think of poor innocent Joseph, crying naked in that 
desolate and dry pit, (only saving that he moistened it with tears,) 
and not be moved ? . Yet his hardhearted brethren sit them 
down carelessly, with the noise of his lamentation in their ears, 
to eat bread ; not once thinking, by their own hunger, what it 
was for Joseph to be affamished to death. 

Whatsoever they thought, God never meant that Joseph should 
perish in that pit ; and therefore he sends very Ishmaelites to 
ransom him from his brethren : the seed of him that persecuted 
his brother Isaac shall now redeem Joseph from his brethren's 

When they came to fetch him out of the pit, he now hoped 
for a speedy despatch ; that since they seemed not to have so 
much mercy as to prolong his life, they would not continue so 
much cruelty as to prolong his death. And now, when he hath 
comforted himself with hope of the favour of dying, behold, death 
exchanged for bondage : how much is servitude, to an ingenuous 
nature, worse than death I for this is common to all ; that, to 
none but the miserable. Judah meant this well, but God better : 
Reuben saved him from the sword, Judah from affamishing. God 
will ever raise up some secret favourers to his own amongst those 
that are most malicious. 

How well was this favour bestowed ! If Joseph had died for 
hunger in the pit, both Jacob and Judah and all his brethren had 
died for hunger in Canaan. Little did the Ishmaelitish merchants 
know what a treasure they had bought, carried, and sold ; more 
precious than all their balms and myrrhs. Little did they think 

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cont. v. Of Joseph. 6 1 

that they had in their hands the lord of Egypt, the jewel of the 
world. Why should we contemn any man's meanness, when we 
know not his destiny ? 

One sin is commonly used for the veil of another : Joseph's 
coat is sent home dipped in blood, that, while they should hide 
their own cruelty, they might afflict their father, no less than 
their brother. They have devised this real lie to punish their 
old father, for his love, with so grievous a monument of his 

He that is mourned for in Canaan as dead prospers in Egypt 
under Potiphar, and of a slave is made ruler. Thus God meant 
to prepare him for a greater charge ; he must first rule Potiphar's 
house, then Pharaoh's kingdom : his own service is his least good, 
for his very presence procures a common blessing : a whole family 
shall fare the better for one Joseph. 

Virtue is not looked upon alike with all eyes : his fellows praise 
him, his master trusts him, his mistress affects him too much. All 
the spite of his brethren was not so great a cross to him as the 
inordinate affection of his mistress. Temptations on the right 
hand are now more perilous and hard to resist, by bow much 
they are more plausible and glorious ; but the heart that is bent 
upon God knows how to walk steadily and indifferently betwixt 
the pleasures of sin and fears of evil. He saw this pleasure would 
advance him : he knew what it was to be a minion of one of the 
greatest ladies in Egypt, yet resolves to contemn it : a good 
heart will rather lie in the dust than rise by wickedness. How 
shall I do this and sin against God f 

He knew that all the honours of Egypt could not buy off the 
guilt of one sin, and therefore abhors not only her bed, but her 
company : he that will be safe from the acts of evil must wisely 
avoid the occasions. As sin ends ever in shame, when it is com- 
mitted, so it makes us past shame that we may commit it : the 
impudent strumpet dare not only solicit, but importune, and in a 
sort force the modesty of her good servant ; she lays bold on his 
garment ; her hand seconds her tongue. 

Good Joseph found it now time to flee, when such an enemy 
pursued him : how much had he rather leave his cloak than his 
virtue ! and to suffer his mistress to spoil him of his livery, rather 
than he should blemish her honour, or his master's in her, or God 
in either of them ! 

This second time is Joseph stripped of his garment ; before 

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62 Of Joseph. book in. 

in the violence of envy, now of lust ; before of necessity, now of 
choice ; before, to deceive his father, now his master : for behold, 
the pledge of his fidelity, which he left in those wicked hands, is 
made an evidence against him of that which he refused to do ; 
therefore did he leave his cloak because he would not do that of 
which he is accused and condemned because he left it. What safety 
is there against great adversaries, when even arguments of inno- 
cence are used to convince of evil ? Lust yielded unto is a pleasant 
madness, but is a desperate madness when it is opposed : no hatred 
burns so furiously as that which arises from the quenched coals 
of love. 

Malice is witty to devise accusations of others out of their 
virtue and our own guiltiness. Joseph either pleads not, or is not 
heard. Doubtless he denied the fact, but he dare not accuse the 
offender : there is not only the praise of patience, but ofttimes of 
wisdom, even in unjust sufferings : he knew that God would find 
a time to dear his innocence, and to regard his chaste faithful- 

No prison would serve him but Pharaoh's. Joseph had lien 
obscure and not been known to Pharaoh, if he had not been cast 
into Pharaoh's dungeon: the afflictions of God's children turn 
ever to their advantage. No sooner is Joseph a prisoner than 
a guardian of the prisoners. Trust and honour accompany him 
wheresoever he is. In his father's house, in Potiphar's, in the 
gaol, in the court ; still he hath both favour and rule. 

So long as God is with him, he cannot but shine in spite of 
men : the walls of that dungeon cannot hide his virtues ; the 
iron cannot hold them. Pharaoh's officers are sent to witness his 
graces, which he may not come forth to show ; the cupbearer ad- 
mires him in the gaol, but forgets him in the court. How easily 
doth our own prosperity make us either forget the deservings or 
miseries of others ! 

But as God cannot neglect his own, so least of all in their 
sorrows. After two years more of Joseph's patience, that God, 
which caused him to be lifted out of the former pit to be sold, 
now calls him out of the dungeon to honour. He now puts a 
dream into the head of Pharaoh : be puts the remembrance of 
Joseph's skill into the head of the cupbearer ; who, to pleasure 
Pharaoh, not to requite Joseph, commends the prisoner, for an 
interpreter : he puts an interpretation in the mouth of Joseph : 
he puts this choice into the heart of Pharaoh, of a miserable 

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cont. v. Of Joseph. 68 

prisoner, to make him the ruler of Egypt. Behold, one hoar 
hath changed his fetters into a chain of gold, his rags into fine 
linen, his stocks into a chariot, his gaol into a palace, Potiphar's 
captive into his master's lord, the noise of his chains into Abrech*. 
He whose chastity refused the wanton allurements of the wife of 
Potiphar hath now given him to his wife the daughter of 
Potipherah. Humility goes before honour; serving and suffering 
are the best tutors to government. How well are God's children 
paid for their patience! How happy are the issues of the 
faithful ! Never any man repented him of the advancement of a 
good man. 

Pharaoh had not more preferred Joseph than Joseph hail en- 
riched Pharaoh; if Joseph had not ruled, Egypt and all the 
bordering nations bad perished. The providence of so faithful 
an officer hath both given the Egyptians their lives, and the 
money, cattle, lands, bodies of the Egyptians to Pharaoh. Both 
have reason to be well pleased. The subjects owe to him their 
lives ; the king, his subjects and his dominions : the bounty of 
God made Joseph able to give more than he received. 

It is like the seven years of plenty were not confined to Egypt ; 
other countries adjoining were no less fruitful ; yet in the seven 
years of famine Egypt had corn when they wanted. See the 
difference between a wise prudent frugality, and a vain igno- 
rant expense of the benefits of God : the sparing hand is both 
full and beneficial; whereas the lavish is not only empty, but 

Good Jacob is pinched with the common famine. No piety 
can exempt us from the evils of neighbourhood. No man can 
tell by outward events which is the patriarch and which the 
Canaanite. Neither doth his profession lead him to the hope of 
a miraculous preservation. It is a vain tempting of God to cast 
ourselves upon an immediate provision with neglect of common 
means. His ten sons must now leave their flocks, and go down 
into Egypt, to be their father's purveyors. 

And now they go to buy of him whom they had sold, and 
bow their knees to him for his relief which had bowed to them 
before for his own life. His age, his habit, the place, the lan- 
guage, kept Joseph from their knowledge; neither had they 
called off their minds from their folds, to inquire of matters of 

[* pag, in our version, " Bow the knee," Gen. xli. 43.] 

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64 Of Joseph. book hi. 

foreign state, or to hear that an Hebrew was advanced to the 
highest honour of Egypt. But he cannot but know them whom 
be left at their full growth, whose tongue, and habit, and number 
were all one ; whose faces had left so deep an impression in his 
mind at their unkind parting : it is wisdom sometimes to conceal 
our knowledge, that we may not prejudice truth. 

He that was hated of his brethren for being his father's spy 
now accuses his brethren for common spies of the weakness of 
Egypt ; he could not without their suspicion have come to a per- 
fect intelligence of his father's estate and theirs, if he had not 
objected to them that which was not. We are not b always bound 
to go the nearest way to truth. It is more safe in cases of inqui- 
sition to fetch far about : that he might seem enough an Egyptian, 
he swears heathenishly : how little could they suspect this oath 
could proceed from the son of him which swore by the fear of his 
father Isaac ! how oft have sinister respects drawn weak good- 
ness to disguise itself even with sins ! 

It was no small joy to Joseph to see this late accomplishment 
of his ancient dream ; to see the suppliants (I know not whether 
more brethren or enemies) grovelling before him in an unknown 
submission : and now it doth him good to seem merciless to them 
whom he had found wilfully cruel ; to hide his love from them 
which had showed their hate to him ; and to think how much he 
favoured them, and how little they knew it: and, as sporting 
himself in their seeming misery, he pleasantly imitates all those 
actions reciprocally unto them, which they in despite and earnest 
had done formerly to him ; he speaks roughly, rejects their per- 
suasions, puts them in hold, and one of them in bonds. The mind 
must not always be judged by the outward face of the actions. 
God's countenance is ofttimes as severe, and his hand as heavy, 
to them whom he best loveth. Many a one, under the habit of 
an Egyptian, hath the heart of an Israelite. No song could be 
so delightful to him, as to hear them, in a late remorse, condemn 
themselves before him of their old cruelty towards him, who was 
now their unknown witness and judge. 

Nothing doth so powerfully call home the conscience as afflic- 
tion ; neither need there any other art of memory for sin besides 
misery. They had heard Joseph's deprecation of their evil with 

b [The word ' not' is inserted in a copy of 1 614 in an ancient handwriting. 
It does not appear in any edition which I have seen, but the context requires 


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coxt. v. OfJo8epk. 65 

tears, and had not pitied him ; yet Joseph doth but hear their 
mention of this evil which they had done against him, and pities 
them with tears : he weeps for joy to see their repentance, and to 
compare his safety and happiness with the cruelty which they 
intended, and did, and thought they had done. 

Yet he can abide to see his brother his prisoner, whom no 
bonds could bind so strong as his affection bound him to his 
captive : Simeon is left in pawn, in fetters ; the rest return with 
their corn, with their money, paying nothing for their provision, 
but their labour ; that they might be as much troubled with the 
beneficence of that strange Egyptian lord, as before with his im- 
perious suspicion. Their wealth was now more irksome to them 
than their need ; and they fear God means to punish them more 
in this superfluity of money than in the wagt of victuals, What 
is this that God hath done to us? It is a wise course to be 
jealous of our gain, and more to fear than desire abundance. 

Old Jacob, that was not used to simple and absolute content- 
ments, receives the blessing of seasonable provision, together with 
the affliction of that heavy message, the loss of one son and the 
danger of another ; and knows not whether it be better for him 
to die with hunger or with grief for the departure of that son of 
his right hand. He drives off all to the last : protraction is a 
kind of ease in evils that must come. 

At length, as no plea is so importunate as that of famine, 
Benjamin must go : one evil must be hazarded for the redress of 
another : what would it avail him, to see whom he loved miser- 
able ? How injurious were that affection to keep his son so long 
in his eye, till they should see each other die for hunger I 

The ten brothers return into Egypt, loaded with double money 
in their sacks, and a present in their hands : the danger of mis- 
taking is requited, by honest minds, with more than restitution. 
It is not enough to find our own hearts clear in suspicious actions, 
except we satisfy others. 

Now had Joseph what he would, the sight and presence of his 
Benjamin ; whom he therefore borrows of his father for a time, 
that he might return him with a greater interest of joy. And 
now he feasts them whom ho formerly threatened, and turns 
their fear into wonder : all unequal love is not partial ; all tho 
brethren are entertained bountifully, but Benjamin hath a five- 
fold portion : by how much his welcome was greater, by so much 
his pretended theft seemed more heinous; for good turns ag- 


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66 Of Joseph. book hi. 

gravate unkindnesses, and our offences are increased with our 

How easy is it to find advantages where there is a purpose 
to accuse I Benjamin's sack makes him guilty of that whereof 
his heart was free; crimes seem strange to the innocent: well 
might they abjure this fact, with the offer of bondage and 
death : for they, which carefully brought again that which they 
might have taken, would never take that which was not given 
them. But thus Joseph would yet dally with his brethren : and 
make Benjamin a thief, that be might make him a servant ; and 
fright his brethren with the peril of that their charge, that he 
might double their joy and amazedness in giving them two bro- 
thers at once: our happiness is greater and sweeter when we 
have well feared, aqji smarted with evils. 

But now, when Judah seriously reported the danger of his old 
father and the sadness of his last complaint, compassion and joy 
will be concealed no longer, but break forth violently at his voice 
and eyes. Many passions do not well abide witnesses, because 
they are guilty to their own weakness. Joseph sends forth his 
servants, that he might freely weep. He knew he could not say 
/ am Joseph without an unbeseeming vehemence. 

Never any word sounded so strangely as this in the ears of 
the patriarchs. Wonder, doubt, reverence, joy, fear, hope, guil- 
tiness, struck them at once. It was time for Joseph to say, Fear 
not: no marvel if they stood with paleness and silence before 
him ; looking on him and on each other ; the more they con- 
sidered, they wondered more ; and the more they believed, the 
more they feared; for those words, I am Joseph, seemed to 
sound thus much to their guilty thoughts : " You are murderers, 
and I am a prince in spite of you : my power and this place give 
me all opportunities of revenge; my glory is your shame, my 
life your danger ; your sin lives together with me." 

But now the tears and gracious words of Joseph have soon as- 
sured them of pardon and love, and have bidden them turn their 
eyes from their sin against their brother to their happiness in 
him, and have changed their doubts into hopes and joys ; causing 
them to look upon him without fear, though not without shame. 
His loving embracements clear their hearts of all jealousies, and 
hasten to put new thoughts into them of favour and of greatness : 
so that now, forgetting what evil they did to their brother, they 
are thinking of what good their brother may do to them. Actions 

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coxt. v. Of Joseph. 67 

salved up with a free forgiveness are as not done ; and as a bone 
once broken is stronger after well setting, so is love after recon- 

Bat as wounds once healed leave a scar behind them, so re- 
mitted injuries leave commonly in the actors a guilty remem- 
brance; which hindered these brethren from that freedom of 
joy which else they had conceived : this was their fault, not Jo- 
seph's; who strives to give them all security of his love, and 
will be as bountiful as they are cruel : they sent him naked to 
strangers, he sends them in new and rich liveries to their father ; 
they took a small sum of money for him, be gives them great 
treasures ; they sent his torn coat to his father ; he sends variety 
of costly raiments to his father by them : they sold him to be the 
load of camels, he sends them home with chariots. 

It must be a great favour that can appease the conscience of a 
great injury. Now they return home rich and joyful, making 
themselves happy to think how glad they should make their father 
with this news. 

That good old man would never have hoped that Egypt could 
have afforded such provision as this — Joseph is yet alive : this 
was not food, but life to him. The return of Benjamin was com- 
fortable; but that his dead son was yet alive, after so many 
years 9 lamentation, was tidings too happy to be believed, and was 
enough to endanger that life with excess of joy, which the know- 
ledge thereof doubled. Over-excellent^ objects are dangerous 
in their sudden apprehensions. One grain of that joy would 
have safely cheered him, whereof a full measure overlays his 
heart with too much sweetness. There is no earthly pleasure 
whereof we may not surfeit ; of the spiritual, we can never have 

Tet his eyes revive his mind, which his ears had thus asto- 
nished. When he saw the chariots of his son, he believed Jo- 
seph's life, and refreshed his own. He had too much before, so 
that he could not enjoy it ; now he saith, I have enough; Jo- 
seph my son is yet alive. 

They told him of his honour, he speaks of his life; life is 
better than honour. To have heard that Joseph lived a servant, 
would have joyed him more than to hear that he died honour- 
ably. The greater blessing obscures the less. He is not worthy 
of honour that is not thankful for life. 

Tet Joseph's life did not content Jacob without his presence ; 

p 2 

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68 Of Joseph. book hi. 

I will go down and see him ere I die : the Bight of the eye is 
better than to walk in desires: good things pleasure us not in 
their being, but in our enjoying. 

The height of all earthly contentment appeared in the meeting 
of these two ; whom their mutual loss hath more endeared to 
each other : the intermission of comforts hath this advantage, 
that it sweetens our delight more in the return, than was abated 
in the forbearance. God doth ofbtimes hide away our Joseph for 
a time, that we may be more joyous and thankful in his recovery. 
This was the sincerest pleasure that ever Jacob had ; which there- 
fore God reserved for his age. 

And if the meeting of earthly friends be so unspeakably com- 
fortable, how happy shall we be in the light of the glorious face 
of God our heavenly Father I of that our blessed Redeemer, 
whom we sold to death by our sins ; and which now, after that 
noble triumph, hath all power given him in heaven and earth ! 

Thus did Jacob rejoice, when he was to go out of the land of 
promise to a foreign nation for Joseph's sake ; being glad that 
he should lose his country for his son. What shall our joy be, 
who must go out of this foreign land of our pilgrimage to the 
home of our glorious inheritance, to dwell with none but our 
own; in that better and more lightsome Goshen, free from all 
the incumbrances of this Egypt, and full of ail the riches and 
delights of God I 

The guilty conscience can never think itself safe; so many 
years' experience of Joseph's love could not secure his brethren 
of remission ; those that know they have deserved ill are wont to 
misinterpret favours, and think they cannot be beloved : all that 
while his goodness seemed but concealed and sleeping malice; 
which they feared in their father's last sleep would awake, and 
bewray itself in revenge : still therefore they plead the name of 
their father, though dead, not daring to use their own. Good 
meanings cannot be more wronged than with suspicion : it grieves 
Joseph to see their fear, and to find they had not forgotten their 
own sin, and to hear them so passionately crave that which they 

Forgive the trespass of the servants of thy father's God : What 
a conjuration of pardon was this ! What wound could be either 
so deep or so festered as this plaster could not cure ! They say 
not, " the sons of thy father ;" for they knew Jacob was dead, 
and they had degenerated ; but the servants of thy father's God : 

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cont- v. Of Joseph. 69 

how much stronger are the bonds of religion than of nature! 
If Joseph had been rancorous, this deprecation had charmed 
him ; but now it resolves him into tears : they are not so ready 
to acknowledge their old offence, as he to protest his love ; and 
if he chide them for any thing, it is for that they thought they 
needed to entreat ; since they might know it could not stand 
with the fellow-servant of their father's God to harbour mali- 
ciousness, to purpose revenge; Am not I under God? And, 
fully to secure them, he turns their eyes from themselves to the 
decree of God ; from the action to the event ; as one that would 
have them think there was no cause to repent of that which 
proved so successful. 

Even late confession finds forgiveness: Joseph had long ago 
seen their sorrow, never but now heard he their humble acknow- 
ledgment : mercy stays not for outward solemnities. How much 
more shall that Infinite Goodness pardon our sins, when he finds 
the truth of our repentance ! 





Right honourable, — All that I can say for myself is, a desire of doing 
good ; which if it were as fervent in richer hearts, the church, which now we 
see comely, would then be glorious. This honest ambition hath carried me to 
neglect the fear of seeming prodigal of my little; and while I see others' 
talents rusting in the earth, hath drawn me to traffic with mine in public. I 
hope no adventure that ever I made of this kind shall be equally gainful to 
this my present labour, wherein I take God's own history for the ground, and 
work upon it by what meditations my weakness can afford : the divineness of 
this subject shall make more than amends for the manifold defects of my dis- 
course ; although also the blame of an imperfection is so much the more when 
it lighteth upon so high a choice. This part, which I offer to your lordship, 
shall shew you Pharaoh impotently envious and cruel ; the Israelites, of friends, 
become slaves, punished only for prospering; Moses in the weeds, in the 

[» Sir James Hay of Kingash, created Baron Hay of Sawley, co. Cumber- 
land, 1 6 15 ; afterward Viscount Doncaster and Karl of Carlisle.] 

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70 The affliction of Israel. book iv. 

court, in the desert, in the Hill of Visions; a courtier in Egypt, a shepherd 
in Midian, an ambassador from God, a leader of God's people : and when you 
see prodigious variety of the plagues of Egypt, you shall not know whether 
more to wonder at the miracles of Moses or Pharaoh's obstinacy. Finally, 
you shall see the same waves made both a wall and a gulf in one hour; the 
Egyptians drowned where no Israelite was wet-shod : and if these passages 
yield not abundance of profitable thoughts, impute it (not without pardon) to 
the poverty of my weak conceit ; which yet may perhaps occasion better unto 
others. In all humble submission I commend them (what they are) to your 
lordship's favourable acceptation, and yourself with them to the gracious 
blessing of our God. 

Your lordship's, in all dutiful observance, at command, 



Egypt was long an harbour to the Israelites ; now it proves a 
gaol : the posterity of Jacob finds too late what it was for their 
forefathers to sell Joseph a slave into Egypt. Those whom the 
Egyptians honoured before as lords, now they contemn as 
drudges: one Pharaoh advances whom another labours to de- 
press : not seldom the same man changes copies ; but if favours 
outlive one age, they prove decrepit and heartless. It is a rare 
thing to find posterity heirs of their father's love. How should 
men's favour be but like themselves, variable and inconstant? 
There is no certainty but in the favour of God, in whom can be 
no change ; whose love is entailed upon a thousand generations. 

Tet if the Israelites had been treacherous to Pharaoh, if dis- 
obedient, this great change of countenance had been just ; now 
the only offence of Israel is, that he prospereth : that which 
should be the motive of their gratulation and friendship, is the 
cause of their malice. There is no more hateful sight to a wicked 
man, than the prosperity of the conscionable. None but the 
spirit of that true harbinger of Christ can teach us to say with 
contentment, He must increase, but I must decrease. 

And what if Israel be mighty and rich? If there be war, they 
may join with our enemies, and get them out of the land. Behold, 
they are afraid to part with those whom they are grieved to 
entertain : either staying or going is offence enough to those that 
seek quarrels. There were no wars, and yet they say, If there 
be wars : the Israelites had never given cause of fear to revolt, 
and yet they say, Lest they join to our enemies, to those enemies 
which we may have ; so they make their certain friends slaves, 

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co nt, i. The affliction of Israel 71 

for fear of uncertain enemies. Wickedness is ever cowardly, and 
full of unjust suspicions; it makes a man fear, where no fear is ; 
fly, when none pursues him. What difference there is betwixt 
David and Pharaoh I the faith of the one says, I will not be 
afraid for ten thousand that should beset me; the fear of the 
other says, Lest if there be war, they join with our enemies ; 
therefore should he have made much of the Israelites, that they 
might be his; his favour might have made them firm: why 
might they not as well draw their swords for him? 

Weak and base minds ever incline to the worse, and seek 
safety rather in an impossibility of hurt than in the likelihood of 
just advantage. Favours had been more binding than cruelties; 
yet the foolish Egyptian had rather have impotent servants than 
able friends. 

For their welfare alone Pharaoh owes Israel a mischief; and 
how will he pay it ? Come, let us work wisely : lewd men call 
wicked policies wisdom, and their success happiness: herein 
Satan is wiser than they, who both lays the plot, and makes 
them such fools, as to mistake villany and madness for the best 

Injustice is upheld by violence, whereas just governments are 
maintained by love. Taskmasters must be set over Israel ; they 
should not be the true seed of Israel if they were not still set to 
wrestle with God in afflictions. Heavy burdens must be laid 
upon them; Israel is never but loaded; the destiny of one of 
Jacob's sons is common to all, to lie down betwixt their burdens. 
If they had seemed to breathe them in Goshen sometimes, yet 
even there it was no small misery to be foreigners, and to live 
among idolaters ; but now the name of a slave is added to the 
name of a stranger. Israel had gathered some rust in idolatrous 
Egypt, and now he must be scoured : they had borne the bur- 
den of God's anger, if they had not borne the burdens of the 

As God afflicted them with another mind than the Egyptians, 
(God to exercise them, the Egyptians to suppress them,) so 
causes he the event to differ. Who would not have thought, with 
these Egyptians, that so extreme misery should not have made 
the Israelites unfit both for generation and resistance ? Moderate 
exercise strengthens, extreme destroys nature. That God, which 
many times works by contrary means, caused them to grow with 

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72 The affliction of Israel. book iv. 

depression ; with persecution to multiply ; how can God's church 
but fare well, since the very malice of their enemies benefits 
them ? O the sovereign goodness of our God, that turns all our 
poisons into cordials I God's vine bears the better with bleeding. 

And now the Egyptians could be angry with their own mali- 
ciousness, that this was the occasion of multiplying them whom 
they hated and feared ; to see that this service gained more to 
the workmen than to their masters : the stronger therefore the 
Israelites grew, the more impotent grew the malice of their per- 
secutors; and since their own labour strengthens them, now 
tyranny will try what can be done by the violence of others : 
since the present strength cannot be subdued, the hopes of succes- 
sion must be prevented ; women must be suborned to be murderers, 
and those whose office is to help the birth must destroy it. 

There was less suspicion of cruelty in that sex, and more op- 
portunity of doing mischief. The male children must be born 
and die at once : what can be more innocent than the child that 
hath not lived so much as to cry or to see light ? it is fault enough 
to be the son of an Israelite. The daughters may live for bondage, 
for lust ; a condition so much (at the least) worse than death, as 
their sex was weaker. marvellous cruelty that a man should 
kill a man for his sex's sake ! Whosoever hath loosed the reins 
unto cruelty is easily carried inWincredible extremities. 

Prom burdens they proceed to bondage, and from bondage 
to blood; from an unjust vexation of their body, to an inhuman 
destruction of the fruit of their body. As the sins of the con- 
cupiscible part, from slight motions, grow on to foul executions, 
so do those of the irascible : there is no sin whose harbour is 
more unsafe than that of malice ; but ofttimes the power of tyrants 
answers not their will : evil commanders cannot always meet with 
equally mischievous agents. 

The fear of God teaches the midwives to disobey an unjust 
command; they well knew how no excuse it is for evil, "I was 
bidden/' God said to their hearts, Thou shalt not kill : this voice 
was louder than Pharaoh's. I commend their obedience in dis- 
obeying ; I dare not commend their excuse : there was as much 
weakness in their answer as strength in their practice : as they 
feared God in not killing, so they feared Pharaoh in dissembling ; 
ofttimes those that make conscience of greater sins are overtaken 
with less. It is well and rare if we can come forth of a dangerous 

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cost. i. The affliction of Israel. 78 

action without any foil ; and if we have escaped the storm, that 
some after drops wet us not. 

Who would not have expected that the midwives should be 
murdered for not murdering ! Pharaoh could not be so simple to 
think these women trusty ; yet his indignation had no power to 
reach to their punishment. God prospered the midwives, who 
can harm them? Even the not doing of evil is rewarded with 
good. And why did they prosper ? Because they feared God ; 
not for their dissimulation, but their piety. So did God regard 
their mercy, that he regarded not their infirmity. How fondly 
do men lay the thank upon the sin which is due to the virtue. 
True wisdom teaches to distinguish God's actions, and to ascribe 
them to the right .causes : pardon belongs to the lie of the mid- 
wives, and remuneration to their goodness, prosperity to their 
fear of God. 

But that which the midwives will not, the multitude shall do. 
It were strange if wicked rulers should not find some or other 
instruments of violence. All the people must drown whom the 
women saved. Cruelty had but smoked before, now it flames up ; 
% secret practising hath made it shameless, that now it dare proclaim 
tyranny. It is a miserable state where every man is made an 
executioner. There can be no greater argument of an ill cause 
than a bloody persecution, whereas truth upholds herself by mild- 
ness, and is promoted by patience. This is their act, what was 
their issue? the people must drown their males, themselves are 
drowned : they died by the same means by which they caused 
the poor Israelitish infants to die ; that law of retaliation which 
God will not allow to us because we are fellow creatures, he justly 
practiseth in us. God would have us read our sins in our judg- 
ments, that we might both repent of our sins and give glory to 
his justice. 

Pharaoh raged before, much more now that he received a 
message of dismission ; the monitions of God make ill men worse : 
the waves do not beat nor roar anywhertf so much as at the bank 
which restrains them. Corruption when it is checked grows mad 
with rage ; as the vapour in a cloud would not make that fearful 
report if it met not with opposition. A good heart yields at the 
stillest voice of God, but the most gracious motions of God 
harden the wicked. Many would not be so desperately settled 
in their sins if the word had not controlled them. How mild a 

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74 The affliction of Israel. book iv. 

message was this to Pharaoh, and yet how galling ! We pray thee 
let us go. God commands him that which he feared. He took 
pleasure in the present servitude of Israel ; God calls for a re- 
lease. If the suit had been for mitigation of labour, for preser- 
vation of their children, it might have carried some hope and 
have found some favour : but now God requires that which he 
knows will as much discontent Pharaoh, as Pharaoh's cruelty 
could discontent the Israelites ; Let us go. How contrary are 
God's precepts to natural minds ! and indeed as they love to cross 
him in their practice, so he loves to cross them in their commands 
before, and his punishments afterwards : it is a dangerous sign of 
an ill heart to feel God's yoke heavy. 

Moses talks of sacrifice, Pharaoh talks of work. Any thing 
seems due work to a carnal mind saving God's service ; nothing 
superfluous but religious duties. Christ tells us there is but one 
thing necessary, nature tells us there is nothing but that needless. 
Moses speaks of devotion, Pharaoh of idleness. It hath been an 
old use as to cast fair colours upon our own vicious actions, so to cast 
evil aspersions upon the good actions of others. The same devil 
that spoke in Pharaoh speaks still in our scoffers, and calls reli- tf 
gion hypocrisy, conscionable care singularity. Every vice hath a 
title and every virtue a disgrace. 

Yet while possible tasks were imposed there was some comfort : 
their diligence might save their backs from stripes. The conceit 
of a benefit to the commander, and hope of impunity to the la- 
bourer, might give a good pretence to great difficulties ; but to re- 
quire tasks not feasible is tyrannical, and doth only pick a quarrel 
to punish ; they could neither make straw nor find it, yet they 
must have it. " Do what may be" is tolerable, but " Do what 
cannot be" is cruel. Those which are above others in place must 
measure their commands, not by their own wills, but by the 
strength of their inferiors. To require more of a beast than he 
can do is inhuman. The task is not done, the taskmasters are 
beaten: the punishment lies where the charge is, they must exact 
it of the people, Pharaoh of them. It is the misery of those which 
are trusted with authority, that their inferiors' faults are beaten 
upon their backs. This was not the fault, to require it of the 
taskmasters, but to require it by the taskmasters of the people. 
Public persons do either good or ill with a thousand hands, and 
with no fewer shall receive it. 

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cont. ii. Oftlie birth and breeding of Moses. 75 

Exodus ii. 

It is a wonder that Amram the father of Moses would think 
of the marriage bed in so troublesome a time, when he knew he 
should beget children either to slavery or slaughter ; yet even 
now, in the heat of this bondage, he marries Jochebed. The 
drowning of his sons was not so great an evil as his own burning : 
the thraldom of his daughters not so great an evil as the sub- 
jection unto sinful desires : he therefore uses God's remedy for 
his sin, and refers the sequel of his danger to God. How neces- 
sary is this imitation for those which have not the power of con- 
taining ! Perhaps we would have thought it better to live childless, 
but Amram and Jochebed durst not incur the danger of a sin 
to avoid the danger of a mischief. 

No doubt, when Jochebed the mother of Moses saw a man- 
child born of her, and him beautiful and comely, she fell into ex- 
treme passion, to think that the executioner's hand should suc- 
ceed the midwife's. All the time of her conception she could not 
but fear a son ; now she sees him, and thinks of his birth and 
death at once, her second throes are more grievous than her first. 
The puns of travail in others are somewhat mitigated with hope, 
and countervailed with joy that a man-child is born ; in her they 
are doubled with fear ; the remedy of others is her complaint : 
still she looks when some fierce Egyptian would come in and 
snatch her newborn infant out of her bosom, whose comeliness 
had now also added to her affection. 

Many times God writes presages of majesty and honour even 
in the faces of children. Little did she think that she held in her 
lap the deliverer of Israel. It is good to hazard in greatest ap- 
pearances of danger. If Jochebed had said, " If I bear a son, 
they will kill him," where had been the great rescuer of Israel ? 
Happy is that resolution which can follow God hoodwinked, and 
let him dispose of the event. When she can no longer hide him 
in her womb, she hides him in her house ; afraid lest every of his 
cryings should guide the executioners to his cradle. 

And now she sees her treasure can be no longer hid she ships 
him in a bark of bulrushes, and commits him to the mercy of the 
waves, and, which was more merciless, to the danger of an 
Egyptian passenger; yet doth she not leave him without a 

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76 Of the birth and breeding of Moses. book iv. 

guardian. No tyranny can forbid her to love him whom she is 
forbidden to keep : her daughter's eyes must supply the place of 
her arms. 

And if the weak affection of a mother were thus effectually 
careful, what shall we think of him whose love, whose compassion, 
is, as himself, infinite ! His eye, his hand, cannot but be with us, 
even when we forsake ourselves. Moses had never a stronger 
protection about him, no not when all his Israelites were pitched 
about his tent in the wilderness, than now when he lay sprawling 
alone upon the waves: no water, no Egyptian can hurt him. 
Neither friend nor mother dare own him, and now God challenges 
his custody. When we seem most neglected and forlorn in our- 
selves, then is God most present, most vigilant. 

His providence brings Pharaoh's daughter thither to wash 
herself. Those times looked for no great state: a princess 
comes to bathe herself in the open stream: she meant only to 
wash herself: God fetches her thither to deliver the deliverer of 
his people. His designs go beyond ours. We know not, when 
we set our foot over our threshold, what he hath to do with us. 
This event seemed casual to this princess, but predetermined and 
provided by God before she was; how wisely and sweetly God 
brings to pass his own purposes, in our ignorance and regardless- 
ness! She saw the ark, opens it, finds the child weeping; his 
beauty and his tears had God provided for the strong persuasions 
of mercy. This young and lively oratory prevailed. Her heart 
is struck with compassion, and yet her tongue could say, It is an 
Hebrew child. 

See here the merciful daughter of a cruel father ; it is an 
uncharitable and injurious ground to judge of the child's disposi- 
tion by the parents. How well doth pity beseem great per- 
sonages ! and most in extremities. It had been death to another 
to rescue the child of an Hebrew ; in her it was safe and noble. 
It is an happy thing when great ones improve their places to so 
much more charity as their liberty is more. 

Moses's sister, finding the princess compassionate, offers to 
procure a nurse, and fetches the mother : and who can be so fit 
a nurse as a mother? She now with glad hands receives her 
child, both with authority and reward. She would have given 
all her substance for the life of her son; and now she hath a 
reward to nurse him. The exchange of the name of a mother 
for the name of a nurse hath gained her both her son and his 

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cont. ii. Of the birth and breeding of Moses. 77 

education, and with both a recompense. Religion doth not call 
us to a weak simplicity, but allows us as much of the serpent as of 
the dove : lawful policies have from God both liberty in the use 
and blessing in the success. 

The good lady did not breed him as some child of alms, or as 
some wretched outcast, for whom it might be favour enough to 
live, but as her own son; in all the delicacies, in all the learning 
of Egypt. Whatsoever the court or the school could put into 
him he wanted not ; yet all this could not make him forget that 
he was an Hebrew. Education works wondrous changes, and is 
of great force either way : a little advancement hath so puffed 
some up above themselves, that they have not only forgot their 
friends, but scorned their parents. All the honours of Egypt 
could not win Moses not to call his nurse mother, or wean him 
from a willing misery with the Israelites. If we had Moses's 
faith, we could not but make his choice. It is only our infi- 
delity that binds us so to the world, and makes us prefer the 
momentary pleasures of sin unto that everlasting recompense of 

He went forth, and looked on the burdens of Israel. What 
needed Moses to have afflicted himself with the afflictions of 
others ? Himself was at ease and pleasure in the court of Pha- 
raoh. A good heart cannot endure to be happy alone; and 
must needs, unbidden, share with others in their miseries. He 
is no true Moses that is not moved with the calamities of God's 
church. To see an Egyptian smite an Hebrew, it smote him, 
and moved him to smite. He hath no Israelitish blood in him 
that can endure to see an Israelite stricken either with hand or 
with tongue. 

Here was his zeal: where was his authority? Doubtless, 
Moses had an instinct from God of his magistracy; else how 
should he think they would have understood what himself did 
not? Oppressions may not be righted by violence, but by law. 
The redress of evil by a person unwarranted is evil. Moses 
knew that God had called him ; he knew that Pharaoh knew it 
not ; therefore he hides the Egyptian in the sand. Those actions 
which may be approved unto God are not always safe with men ; 
as contrarily, too many things go current with men which are 
not approved of God. 

Another Hebrew is stricken, but by an Hebrew : the act is the 
same, the agents differ: neither doth their profession more 

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78 Of the birth and breeding of Moses. book iv. 

differ than Moses's proceedings. He gives blows to the one ; to 
the other words. The blows to the Egyptian were deadly ; the 
words to the Hebrew gentle and plausible. As God makes a 
difference betwixt chastisements of his own and punishments of 
strange children, so must wise governors learn to distinguish of 
sins and judgments according to circumstances. 

How mildly doth Moses admonish ! Sirs, ye are brethren. If 
there had been but any drachm of good nature in these Hebrews, 
they had relented ; now it is strange to see, that, being so uni- 
versally vexed with their common adversary, they should yet vex 
one another : one would have thought that a common opposition 
should have united them more, yet now private grudges do thus 
dangerously divide them. Blows enow were not dealt by the 
Egyptians ; their own must add to the violence. Still Satan is 
thus busy, and Christians are thus malicious, that, as if they 
wanted enemies, they fly in one another's faces. While we are 
in this Egypt of the world, all unkind strifes would easily be 
composed, if we did not forget that we are brethren. 

Behold an Egyptian in the skin of an Hebrew ! How dogged 
an answer doth Moses receive to so gentle a reproof! Who 
would not have expected that this Hebrew had been enough 
dejected with the common affliction? But vexations may make 
some more miserable, not more humble; as we see sicknesses 
make some tractable, others more froward. It is no easy matter 
to bear a reproof well, if never so well tempered : no sugar can 
bereave a pill of his bitterness. None but the gracious can say, 
Let the righteous smite me. Next to the not deserving a reproof, 
is the well taking of it. But who is so ready to except and ex- 
claim as the wrongdoer? The patient replies not. One injury 
draws on another; first to his brother, then to his reprover. 
Guiltiness will make a man stir upon every touch : he that was 
wronged could incline to reconciliation : malice makes men un- 
capable of good counsel ; and there are none so great enemies to 
justice as those which are enemies to peace. 

With what impatience doth a galled heart receive an admo- 
nition ! This unworthy Israelite is the pattern of a stomachful 
offender; first, he is moved to choler in himself; then he calls 
for the authority of the admonisher : a small authority will serve 
for a loving admonition. It is the duty of men, much more of 
Christians, to advise against sin ; yet this man asks, Who made 
thee a judge f for but finding fault with his injury. Then he 

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cont. ii. Of the birth and breeding of Moses. 79 

aggravates and misconstrues, Wilt thou kill me? when Moses 
meant only to save both. It was the death of his malice only 
that was intended, and the safety of his person. And lastly, he 
upbraids him with former actions, Thou killedst the Egyptian : 
What if he did? What if unjustly? What was this to the 
Hebrew? Another man's sin is no excuse for ours. 

A wicked heart never looks inward to itself, but outward to 
the quality of the reprover : if that afford exception, it is enough ; 
as a dog runs first to revenge ou the stone. What matter is it 
to me who he be that admonisheth me ? Let me look home into 
myself; let me look to his advice. If that be good, it is more 
shame to me to be reproved by an evil man. As a good man's 
allowance cannot warrant evil, so an evil man's reproof may 
remedy evil : if this Hebrew had been well pleased, Moses had 
not heard of his slaughter ; now in choler all will out : and if 
this man's tongue had not thus cast him in the teeth with blood, 
he had been surprised by Pharaoh ere he could have known that 
the fact was known. 

Now he grows jealous, flees, and escapes. No friend is so 
commodious in some cases as an adversary. This wound, which 
the Hebrew thought to give Moses, saved his life. As it is good 
for a man to have an enemy, so it shall be our wisdom to make 
use of his most choleric objections. The worst of an enemy may 
prove most sovereign to ourselves. Moses flees. It is no dis- 
comfort for a man to flee when his conscience pursues him not. 
Where God's warrant will not protect us, it is good for the heels 
to supply the place of the tongue. 

Moses, when he may not in Egypt, will be doing justice in 
Midian. In Egypt, he delivers the oppressed Israelite ; in Mi- 
dian, the wronged daughters of Jethro. A good man will be 
doing good wheresoever he is : his trade is a compound of charity 
and justice ; as therefore evil dispositions cannot be changed with 
airs, no more will good. 

Now then he sits him down by a well in Midian. There he 
might have to drink, but where to eat he knew not. The case 
was altered with Moses ; to come from the dainties of the court 
of Egypt to the hunger of the fields of Midian : it is a lesson that 
all GocTs children must learn to take out, To want and to 
abound. Who can think strange of penury, when the great 
governor of God's people once hath nothing? 

Who would not have thought in this case Moses should have 

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80 Of tlie birth and breeding of Moses. book iv. 

beeft hcafrtless and sullen ? So cast down with his own complaints, 
that he should have had no feeling of others ? Yet how hot is he 
upon justice ! No adversity can make a good man neglect good 
duties: he sees the oppression of the shepherds, the image of 
that other he left behind him in Egypt. The maids, daughters 
of so great a peer, draw water for their flocks; the inhuman 
shepherds drive them away : rudeness hath no respect either to 
sex or condition. If we lived not under laws, this were our case : 
might would be the measure of justice : we should not so much as 
enjoy our own water. 

Unjust courses will not ever prosper : Moses shall rather come 
from Egypt to Midian to beat the shepherds, than they shall vex 
the daughters of Jethro. 

This act of justice was not better done than taken : Reuel re- 
quites it kindly with an hospitable entertainment. A good nature 
is ready to answer courtesies: we cannot do too much for a 
thankful man : and if a courteous heathen reward the watering 
of a sheep in this bountiful manner, how shall our God recom- 
pense but a cup of cold water that is given to a disciple ! 

This favour hath won Moses ; who now consents to dwell with 
him, though out of the church. Curiosity, or whatsoever idle 
occasions, may not draw us for our residence out of the bounds 
of the church of Qod ; danger of life may : we love not the 
church if we easily leave it ; if in a case of life we leave it not, 
upon opportunity for a time of respite, we love not ourselves. 

The first part of Moses's requital was his wife ; one of those 
whom he had formerly protected. I do not so much marvel that 
Jethro gave him his daughter (for he saw him valiant, wise, 
learned, nobly bred) as that Moses would take her ; a stranger 
both in blood and religion. I could plead for him necessity : his 
own nation was shut up to him : if he would have tried to fetch 
a daughter of Israel, he had endangered to leave himself behind. 
I could plead some correspondence in common principles of reli- 
gion ; for doubtless Moses's zeal could not suffer him to smother 
the truth in himself: he should have been an unfaithful servant, 
if he had not been his master's teacher. Tet neither of these can 
make this match either safe or good. The event bewrays it 
dangerously inconvenient. 

This choice had like to have cost him dear : she stood in his 
way for circumcision; God stands in his way for revenge. 
Though he was now in God's message, yet might he not be for- 

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cont. in. Of Moses's colling. 81 

borne in this neglect. No circumstance, either of the clearness 
of the solicitor or our own engagement, can bear out a sin with 

Those which are unequally yoked may not ever look to draw one 
way. True love to the person cannot long agree with dislike of 
the religion. He had need to be more than a man that hath a 
Zipporah in his bosom, and would have true zeal in his heart. 

All this while Moses's affection was not so tied to Midian that 
he could forget Egypt. He was a stranger in Midian : what was 
he else in Egypt ? Surely either Egypt was not his home, or a 
miserable one ; and yet, in reference to it, he calls his son Ger- 
shora, a stranger there. Much better were it to be a stranger 
there than a dweller in Egypt. How hardly can we forget the 
place of our abode or education, although never so homely ! And 
if he so thought of his Egyptian home, where was nothing but 
bondage and tyranny, how should we think of that home of ours 
above, where is nothing but rest and blessedness ! 

OF MOSES'S CALLING.— Exodus iii. 

Forty years was Moses a courtier, and forty years after that a 
shepherd. That great men may not be ashamed of honest voca- 
tions, the greatest that ever were have been content to take up 
with mean trades. The contempt of honest callings in those which 
are well born argues pride without wit. How constantly did 
Moses stick to his hook I and yet a man of great spirits, of ex- 
cellent learning, of curious education ; and if God had not, after 
his forty years' service, called him off, he had so ended his days. 
Humble resolutions are so much more heroical as they fall into 
higher subjects. 

There can be no fitter disposition for a leader of God's people 
than constancy in his undertakings, without either weariness or 
change. How had he learned to subdue all ambitious desires, 
and to rest content with his obscurity I So he might have the 
freedom of his thoughts and full opportunity of holy meditations, 
he willingly leaves the world to others, and envies not his proudest 
acquaintance of the court of Pharaoh. He that hath true worth 
in himself and familiarity with God, finds more pleasure in the 
deserts of Midian, than others can do in the palaces of kings. 


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82 Of Moses's calling. book iv. 

While he is tending his sheep God appeared unto him : God 
never graces the idle with his visions : when he finds us in our 
callings, we find him in the tokens of his mercy. Satan appears 
to the idle man in manifold temptations, or rather presents him- 
self and appears not. God was ever with Moses, yet was he not 
seen till now. He is never absent from his, but sometimes he 
makes their senses witnesses of his presence. 

In small matters may be greater wonders. That a bush should 
burn is no marvel, but that it should not consume in burning is 
justly miraculous. God chooseth not ever great subjects wherein 
to exercise his power. It is enough that his power is great in 
the smallest. 

When I look upon this burning bush with Moses, methinks I 
can never see a worthier and more lively emblem of the church ; 
that in Egypt was in the furnace, yet wasted not ; since then how 
oft hath it been flaming, never consumed ! The same power that 
enlightens it preserves it; and to none but to his enemies is he a 
consuming fire. 

Moses was a great philosopher, but small skill would have 
served to know the nature of fire and of the bush : that fire 
meeting with combustible matter could not but consume, if it had 
been some solid wood, it would have yielded later to the flame ; 
but bushes are of so quick despatch, that the joy of the wicked is 
compared to a fire of thorns. He noted a while, saw it continued, 
and began to wonder. It was some marvel how it should come 
there, but how it should continue without supply, yea, without 
diminution of matter, was truly admirable. 

Doubtless he went oft about it, and viewed it on all sides ; and 
now, when his eye and mind could meet with no likely causes so 
far off, resolves, I will go see it: his curiosity led him nearer, 
and what could he see but a bush and a flame, which he saw at 
first unsatisfied? It is good to come to the place of God's pre- 
sence howsoever : God may perhaps speak to thy heart, though 
thou come but for novelty. Even those which have come upon 
curiosity have been oft taken : absence is without hope : if Moses 
bad not come, he had not been called out of the bush. 

To see a fire not consuming the bush was much, but to hear 
a speaking fire, this was more ; and to hear his own name out of 
the mouth of the fire, it was most of all. God makes way for his 
greatest messages by astonishment and admiration ; as on the con- 
trary, carelessness carries us to a mere unproficiency under the 

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cont. in. Of Moses's catting. 83 

best means of God. If our hearts were more awful, God's mes- 
sages would be more effectual to us. 

In that appearance God meant to call Moses to come, yet when 
he is come, inhibits him; Come not hither. We must come 
to God, must not come too near him. When we meditate of the 
great mysteries of his word, we come to him ; we come too near 
him when we search into his counsels. The sun and the fire say 
of themselves, " Come not too near ;" how much more the light 
which none can attain unto ! We have all our limits set us : the 
Gentiles might come into some outer courts, not into the inmost : 
the Jews might come into the inner court, not into the tem- 
ple ; the priests and Levites into the temple, not into the Holy 
of Holies ; Moses to the hill, not to the bush. The waves of the 
sea had not more need of bounds than man's presumption. Moses 
must not come close to the bush at all ; and where he may stand, 
he may not stand with his shoes on. There is no unhohness in 
clothes : God prepared them for man at first, and that of skins, 
lest any exception should be taken at the hides of dead beasts. 
This rite was significant. What are the shoes but worldly and 
carnal affections? If these be not cast off when we come to the 
holy place, we make ourselves unholy : how much less should wo 
dare to come with resolutions of sin I This is not only to come 
with shoes on, but with shoes bemired with wicked filthiness ; the 
touch whereof profanes the pavement of God, and makes our 
presence odious. 

Moses was the son of Amram, Amram of Kohath, Eohath of 
Levi, Levi of Jacob, Jacob of Isaac, Isaac of Abraham. God puts 
together both ends of his pedigree ; / am the God of thy father, 
and of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. If he had said only, lam thy 
God, it bad been Moses's duty to attend awfully ; but now that 
he says, lam the God of thy father, and of Abraham, ^c, he 
challenges reverence by prescription. Any thing that was our 
ancestors' pleases us ; their houses, their vessels, their coat-armour ; 
how much more their God ! How careful should parents be to 
. make holy choices I Every precedent of theirs is so many monu- 
ments and motives to their posterity. 

What an happiness it is to be born of good parents I Hence 
God claims an interest in us and we in him, for their sake. As 
many a man smarteth for his father's sin, so the goodness of 
others is crowned in a thousand generations. Neither doth God 
say, " I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob ;" but, / am. 

o % 

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84 Of Moses s calling. book iv. 

The patriarchs still live after so many thousand years of disso- 
lution. No length of time can separate the souls of the just from 
their Maker. As for their body, there is still a real relation be- 
twixt the dust of it and the soul ; and if the being of this part be 
more defective, the being of the other is more lively, and doth 
more than recompense the wants of that earthly half. 

God could not describe himself by a more sweet name than 
this, / am the God of thy father, and of Abraham, fyc. yet Moses 
hides his face for fear. If he had said, " I am the glorious God 
that made heaven and earth, that dwell in light inaccessible, 
whom the angels cannot behold ;" or, " I am God the avenger, just 
and terrible, a consuming fire to mine enemies ;" here had been just 
cause of terror. But why was Moses so frighted with a familiar 
compellation ? God is no less awful to his own in his very mercies : 
Great is thy mercy \ that thou mayest be feared ; for to them no 
less majesty shines in the favours of God, than in his judgments 
and justice. The wicked heart never fears God, but thundering, 
or shaking the earth, or raining fire from heaven ; but the good 
can dread him in his very sunshine : his loving deliverances and 
blessings affect them with awfulness. Moses was the true son of 
Jacob ; who, when he saw nothing but visions of love and mercy, 
could say, How dreadful is this place ! 

I see Moses now at the bush hiding his face at so mild a repre- 
sentation : hereafter we shall see him in this very mount betwixt 
heaven and earth; in thunder, lightning, smoke, earthquakes, 
speaking mouth to mouth with God, barefaced and fearless : God 
was then more terrible, but Moses was less strange. This was his 
first meeting with God ; further acquaintance makes him familiar, 
and familiarity makes him bold : frequence of conversation gives 
us freedom of access to God ; and makes us pour out our hearts 
to him as fully and as fearlessly as to our friends. In the mean 
time, now at first he made not so much haste to see, but he made 
as much to hide his eyes. 

Twice did Moses hide his face ; once for the glory which God 
put upon him, which made him so shine, that he could not be 
beheld of others ; once for God's own glory, which he could not 
behold. No marvel. Some of the creatures are too glorious for 
mortal eyes ; how much more, when God appears to us in the 
easiest manner, must his glory needs overcome us ! 

Behold the difference betwixt our present and future estate; 
then the more majesty of appearance the more delight; when 

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cont. iv. Of the plagues of Egypt. 85 

our sin is quite gone, all our fear at God's presence shall be 
turned into joy. God appeared to Adam before his sin with 
comfort, but in the same form which after his sin was terrible. 
And if Moses cannot abide to look upon God's glory when he 
descends to us in mercy, how shall wicked ones abide to see his 
fearful presence when he sets upon vengeance! In this fire he 
flamed and consumed not, but in his revenge our God is a con- 
suming fire. 

First, Moses hides himself in fear, now in modesty : Who am I? 
None in all. Egypt or Midian was comparably fit for this embas- 
sage. Which of the Israelites had been brought up a courtier, 
a scholar, an Israelite by blood, by education an Egyptian, learned, 
wise, valiant, experienced ? Yet, Who am I? The more fit any 
man is for whatsoever vocation, the less he thinks himself. For- 
wardness argues insufficiency. The unworthy thinks still, " Who 
am I not?" Modest beginnings give hopeful proceedings and 
happy endings. Once before Moses had taken upon him and laid 
about him, hoping then they would have known that by his hand 
God meant to deliver Israel ; but now, when it comes to the point, 
Who am If God's best servants are not ever in an equal dispo- 
sition to good duties. If we find differences in ourselves some- 
times, it argues that grace is not our own. It is our fruity, that 
those services which we are forward to aloof off, we shrink at, 
near hand, and fearfully misgive. How many of us can bid de- 
fiances to death, and suggest answers to absent temptations, which 
when they come home to us we fly off and change our note, and 
instead of action, expostulate ! 

OF THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT.— Exodus vii-xii. 

It is too much honour for flesh and blood to receive a message 
from heaven ; yet here God sends a message to man, and is re- 
pulsed. Well may God ask, Who is man, that I should regard 
him f but for man to ask, Who is the Lord f is a proud and bold 

Thus wild is nature at the first ; but ere God hath done with 
Pharaoh he will be known of him ; he will make himself known 
by him to all the world. God might have swept him away 

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86 Of (he plagues of Egypt. book iv. 

How unworthy is he of life, who, with the same breath that 
he receives, denies the Giver of it ! But he would have [him con- 
vinced ere he were punished ; first therefore he works miracles 
before him, then upon him. 

Pharaoh was now, from a staff of protection and sustentation 
to God's people, turned to a serpent that stung them to death : 
God shows himself in this real emblem; doing that suddenly 
before him which Satan had wrought in him by leisure ; and now 
when he crawls and winds and hisses, threatening peril to Israel, 
he shows him how in an instant he can turn him into a senseless 
stick, and make him, if not useful, yet fearless. 

The same God which wrought this gives Satan leave to imitate 
it ; the first plague that he meant to inflict upon Pharaoh is delu- 
sion. God can be content the devil should win himself credit 
where he means to judge, and holds the honour of a miracle well 
lost, to harden an enemy ; yet, to show that his miracle was of 
power, the others of permission, Moses's serpent devours theirs. 
How easily might the Egyptians have thought, that he, which 
caused their serpent not to be, could have kopt it from being ; 
and that they, which could not keep their serpent from devour- 
ing, could not secure them from being consumed! But wise 
thoughts enter not into those that must perish. 

All God's judgments stand ready, and wait but till they be 
called for. They need but a watchword to be given them. No 
sooner is the rod lift up, but they are gone forth into the world ; 
presently the waters run into blood, the frogs and lice crawl 
about, and all the other troops of God come rushing in upon his 

All creatures conspire to revenge the injuries of God. If the 
Egyptians look upward, there they have thunder, lightning, hail, 
tempests; one while no light at all, another while such fearful 
flashes as had more terror than darkness: if they look under 
them, there they see their waters changed into blood, their earth 
swarming with frogs and grasshoppers ; if about them, one while 
the flies fill their eyes and ears ; another while, they see their 
fruits destroyed, their cattle dying, their children dead: if, 
lastly, they look upon themselves, they see themselves loathsome 
with lice, painful and deformed with scabs, boils, and blotches. 

First, God begins his judgments with waters. As the river of 
Nilus was to Egypt instead of heaven, to moisten and fatten the 
earth ; so their confidence was more in it than in heaven. Men 

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cont. iv. Of the plagues of Egypt. 87 

are sore to be punished most tod soonest in that which they 
make a co-rival with God. 

They had before defiled the river with the blood of innocents ; 
and now it appears to them in his own colour. The waters will 
no longer keep their counsel. Never any man delighted in blood, 
which had not enough of it ere his end : they shed but some few 
streams, and now, behold, whole rivers of blood ! 

Neither was this more a monument of their slaughter past 
than an image of their future destruction. They were afterward 
overwhelmed in the Bed sea, and now beforehand they seo the 
rivers red with blood. 

How dependent and servile is the life of man, that cannot 
either want one element or endure it corrupted ! It is hard to 
say, whether there were more horror or annoyance in this plague. 
They complain of thirst, and yet doubt whether they should die 
or quench it with blood. 

Their fish, the chief part of their sustenance, dies with infec- 
tion, and infecteth more by being dead. The stench of both is 
ready to poison the inhabitants ; yet Pharaoh's curiosity carries 
him away quite from the sense of the judgment : he had rather 
send for his magicians to work feats, than to humble himself 
under God for the removal of this plague ; and God plagues his 
curiosity with deceit : those whom he trusts shall undo him with 
prevailing : the glory of a second miracle shall be obscured by a 
false imitation, for a greater glory to God in the sequel. 

The rod is lift up again : behold, that Nilus, which they had 
before adored, was never so beneficial as it is now troublesome ; 
yielding them not only a dead but a living annoyance : it never 
did so store them with fish, as now it plagues them with frogs : 
whatsoever any man makes his god besides the true one shall 
be once his tormentor. Those loathsome creatures leave their 
own element to punish them which rebelliously detain Israel 
from their own. No bed, no table, can be free from them : their 
dainty ladies cannot keep them out of their bosoms : neither can 
the Egyptians sooner open their mouths, than they are ready to 
creep into their throats; as if they would tell them that they 
came on purpose to revenge the wrongs of their Maker. 

Yet even this wonder also is Satan allowed to imitate. Who 
can marvel to see the best virtues counterfeited by wicked men, 
when he sees the devil emulating the miraculous power of God ? 
The feats that Satan plays may harden, but cannot benefit. lie, 

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88 Of the plagues of Egypt book iv. 

that bath leave to bring frogs hath neither leave nor power to 
take them away, nor to take away the stench from them. To 
bring them was but to add to the judgment, to remove them 
was an act of mercy. God doth commonly use Satan in executing 
of judgment, never in the works of mercy to men. 

Yet even by thus much is Pharaoh hardened, and the sorcerers 
grown insolent. When the devil and his agents are in the height 
of their pride, Ood shames them in a trifle. 

Th$ rod is lift up: the very dust receives life: lice abound every- 
where, and make no difference betwixt beggars and princes. 

Though Pharaoh and his courtiers abhorred to see themselves 
lousy, yet they hoped this miracle would be more easily imitable : 
but now, the greater possibility the greater foil. How are the 
great wonder-mongers of Egypt abashed, that they can neither 
make lice of their own, nor deliver themselves from the lice that 
are made ! Those that could make serpents and frogs could not 
either make or kill lice ; to show them that those frogs and ser- 
pents were not their own workmanship. Now Pharaoh must 
needs see how impotent a devil he served, that could not make 
that vermin which every day rises voluntarily out of corruption. 
Jannes and Jambres cannot now make those lice so much as by 
delusion, which at another time they cannot choose but produce 
unknowing, and which now they cannot avoid. That spirit, 
which is powerful to execute the greatest things when he is 
bidden, is unable to do the least when he is restrained. 

Now these co-rivals of Moses can say, This is the finger of 
God. Ye foolish enchanters, was God's finger in the lice, not in 
the frogs, not in the blood, not in the serpent ? And why was it 
rather in the less than in the greater ? Because ye did imitate 
the other, not these. As if the same finger of God had not been 
before in your imitation, which was now in your restraint : as if ye 
could have failed in these, if ye had not been only^ permitted the 
other. While wicked minds have their full scope, they never look up 
above themselves ; but when once God crosses them in their pro- 
ceedings, their want of success teaches them to give God his own. 

All these plagues perhaps had more horror than pain in them. 
The frogs creep upon their clothes, the lice upon their skins; 
but those stinging hornets which succeed them shall wound and 
kill. The water was annoyed with the first plague, the earth 
with the second and third ; this fourth fills the air, and, besides 
corruption, brings smart. 

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cont. iv. Of the plagues of Egypt 89 

And that they may see this winged army comes from an angry 
God, not either from nature or chance, even the very flies shall 
make a difference betwixt Egypt and Qoshen. He that gave 
them their being sets them their stint. They can no more sting 
an Israelite than favour an Egyptian. The very wings of flies 
are directed by a providence, and do acknowledge their limits. 

Now Pharaoh finds how impossible it is for him to stand out 
with God, since all his power cannot rescue him from lice and 
flies. And now his heart begins to thaw a little : Go, do sacri- 
fice to your God in this land : or, since that will not be accepted, 
Go into the wilderness, but not far. 

But how soon it knits again! Good thoughts make but a 
thoroughfare of carnal hearts ; they can never settle there : yea, 
his very misgiving hardens him the more ; that now, neither the 
murrain of his cattle nor the blotches of his servants can stir 
him a whit. He saw his cattle struck dead with a sudden con- 
tagion; he saw his sorcerers, after their contestation with God's 
messengers, struck with a scab in their very faces ; and yet his 
heart is not struck. Who would think it possible that any soul 
could be secure in the midst of such variety and frequence of 
judgments? These very plagues have not more wonder in them 
than their success hath. To what an height of obduration will 
sin lead a man, and, of all sins, incredulity ! 

Amidst all these storms Pharaoh sleepeth; till the voice of 
God's mighty thunders, and hail mixed with fire, roused him up 
a little. Now, as betwixt sleeping and waking, he starts up and 
* says, God is righteous, lam wicked; Moses, pray for us; and 
presently lays down his head again. God hath no sooner done 
thundering, than he hath done fearing. 

All this while you never find him careful to prevent any one 
evil, but desirous still to shift it off, when he feels it ; never holds 
constant to any good motion ; never prays for himself, but care- 
lessly wills Moses and Aaron to pray for him ; never yields God 
his whole demand, but higgleth and dodgeth, like some hard 
chapman, that would get a release with the cheapest : first, They 
shall not go : then, Go and sacrifice, but in Egypt ; next, Go 
sacrifice in the wilderness, but not far of; after, Go ye that are 
mm; then, Go you and your children only; at last, Go all, 
save your sheep and cattle. Wheresoever mere nature is, she is 
still improvident of future good, sensible of present evil, incon- 
stant in good purposes ; unable, through unacquaintance, and un- 

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90 Of the plagues of Egypt. book i v. 

willing to speak for herself; niggardly in her grants, and un- 

The plague of the grasshoppers startled him a little, and the 
more through the importunity of his servants : for, when he con- 
sidered the fish destroyed with the first blow ; the cattle, with 
the fifth ; the corn, with the seventh ; the fruit and leaves, with 
this eighth ; and nothing now left him but a bare fruitless earth 
to live upon, and that covered over with locusts; necessity drove 
him to relent for an advantage: Forgive me this once; take 
from me this death only. 

But, as constrained repentance is ever short and unsound, the 
west wind, together with the grasshoppers, blows away his re- 
morse, and now is he ready for another judgment. As the 
grasshoppers took away the sight of the earth from him, so now 
a gross darkness takes away the sight of heaven too : other dark- 
nesses were but privative, this was real and sensible. 

The Egyptians thought this night long : how could they choose 
when it was six in one ! and so much the more, for that no man 
could rise to talk with other, but was necessarily confined to his 
own thoughts : one thinks the fault in his own eyes, which he rubs 
oftentimes in vain : others think that the sun is lost out of the 
firmament, and is now withdrawn for ever ; others, that all things 
are returning to their first confusion : all think themselves miser- 
able, past remedy, and wish, whatsoever had befallen them, that 
they might have had but light enough to see themselves die. 

Now Pharaoh proves like to some beasts that grow mad with 
baiting: grace often resisted turns to desperateness : Get thee' 
from me; look thou see my face no more ; whensoever thou contest 
in my sight thou shah die. As if Moses could not plague him as 
well in absence : as if he, that could not take away the lice, flies, 
frogs, grasshoppers, could at his pleasure take away the life of 
Moses that procured them. What is this but to run upon the 
judgments, and run away from the remedies ? Evermore, when 
God's messengers are abandoned, destruction is near. 

Moses will see him no more till he see him dead upon the 
sands; but God will now visit him more than ever. The fearfulest 
plagues God still reserves for the upshot : all the former do but 
make way for the last. Pharaoh may exclude Moses and Aaron, 
but God's angel he cannot exclude: insensible messengers are 
used when the visible are debarred. 

Now God begins to call for the blood they owed him : in one 

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cont. iv. Of the plagues of Egypt 9 1 

night every house hath a carcass in it ; and, which is more griev- 
ous, of their firstborn ; and, which is yet more fearful, in an in- 
stant. No man could comfort other : every man was too full of 
his own sorrow ; helping rather to make the noise of the lamenta- 
tion more doleful and astonishing. 

How soon hath God changed the note of this tyrannical people ! 
Egypt was never so stubborn in denying passage to Israel, as 
now importunate to entreat it : Pharaoh did not more force them 
to stay before, than now to depart ; tfhom lately they would not 
permit, now they hire to go. Their rich jewels of silver and gold 
were not too dear for them whom they hated ; how much rather 
had they to send them away wealthy, than to have them stay to 
be their executors ! Their love to themselves obtained of them the 
enriching of their enemies ; and now they are glad to pay them 
well for their old work and their present journey : God's people 
had stayed like slaves, they go away like conquerors, with the 
spoil of those that hated them; armed for security, and wealthy 
for maintenance. 

Old Jacob's seventy souls which he brought down into Egypt, 
in spite of their bondage and bloodshed, go forth six hundred 
thousand men besides children. The world is well mended with 
Israel since he went with his staff and his scrip over Jordan. 
Tyranny is too weak where God bids Increase and multiply. I 
know not where else the good herb overgrows the weeds, the 
church outstrips the world. I fear, if they had lived in ease and 
delicacy, they had not been so strong, so numerous. Never any 
true Israelite lost by his affliction. 

Not only for the action, but the time, Pharaoh's choice meets 
with God's : that very night, when the hundred and thirty 1 years 
were expired, Israel is gone : Pharaoh neither can, nor can will, 
to keep them any longer ; yet in this, not fulfilling God's will, but 
his own. How sweetly doth God dispose of all second causes, 
that while they do their own will they do his I 

The Israelites are equally glad of this haste. Who would not 
be ready to go, yea to fly, out of bondage ? They have what they 
wished : it was no staying for a second invitation. The loss of an 

• [" Thus the Jews in Seder Olam collect from that place in Genesis, Thy 
seed shall be a stranger four hundred years, that is, Isaac from his birth, and 
his posterity, till the delivery out of Egypt by Moses. Of which space, the 
servitude and oppression of the Israelites in Egypt came not, say they, to 
much above an hundred and thirty years." — Hammond on Acts vii. 6.] 

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93 Of the plague* of Egypt. book iv. 

opportunity is many times unrecoverable : the love of their liberty 
made the burden of their dough light. Who knew whether the 
variable mind of Pharaoh might return to a denial, and after all his 
stubbornness repent of his obedience? It is foolish to hazard 
where there is certainty of good offers and uncertainty of conti- 
nuance. They go therefore ; and the same God that fetched them 
out is both their guide and protector. 

How carefully doth he choose their way I not the nearer, but 
the safer. He would not have his people so suddenly change 
from bondage to war. It is the wondrous mercy of God that he 
hath respect, as to his own glory, so to our infirmities. He intends 
them wars hereafter, but after some longer breathing and more 
preparation ; his goodness so orders all, that evils are not ready for 
us till we be ready for them. 

And as he chooses, so he guides their way. That they might 
not err in that sandy and untracked wilderness, himself goes 
before them : who could but follow cheerfully, when he sees God 
lead him? He that led the wise men by a star leads Israel by 
a cloud : that was an higher object, therefore he gives them an 
higher and more heavenly conduct ; this was more earthly, there- 
fore he contents himself with a lower representation of his pre- 
sence — a pillar of cloud and fire ; a pillar for firmness ; of cloud 
and fire for visibility and use. The greater light extinguishes 
the less; therefore in the day he shows them not fire, but a 
cloud: in the night nothing is seen without light, therefore he 
shows them not the cloud, but fire : the cloud shelters them from 
heat by day; the fire digests the rawness of the night. The 
same God is both a cloud and a fire to his children, ever putting 
himself into those forms of gracious respects that may best fit 
their necessities. 

As good motions are long ere they can enter into hard hearts, 
so they seldom continue long. No sooner were the backs of 
Israel turned to depart, than Pharaoh's heart and face is turned 
after them to fetch them back again. It vexes him to see so 
great a command, so much wealth, cast away in one night; which 
now he resolves to redeem, though with more plagues. The same 
ambition and covetousness that made him wear out so many 
judgments will not leave him till it have wrought out his full 

All God's vengeances have their end — the final perdition of 
his enemies; which they cannot rest till they have attained: 

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cont. iv. Of the plagues of Egypt 93 

Pharaoh therefore and his Egyptians will needs go fetch their 

They well knew that Israel was fitter to serve than to fight ; 
weary with their servitude, not trained up to war, not furnished 
with provision for a field : themselves, captains and soldiers by 
profession ; furnished with horses and chariots of war. They gave 
themselves therefore the victory beforehand, and Israel either for 
spoil or bondage. 

Tea, the weak Israelites gave up themselves for dead, and 
already are talking of their graves. They see the sea before 
them, behind them the Egyptians; they know not whether is 
more merciless, and are stricken with the fear of both. O God, 
how couldst thou forbear so distrustful a people I they had seen 
all thy wonders in Egypt and in their Goshen ; they saw even 
now thy pillar before them, and yet they did more fear Egypt 
than believe thee. Thy patience is no less miracle than thy 
deliverance. But instead of removing from them, the cloudy 
pillar removes behind them, and stands betwixt the Israelites and 
Egyptians ; as if God would have said, " They shall first overcome 
me, O Israel, ere they touch thee." Wonder did now justly strive 
with fear in the Israelites, when they saw the cloud remove behind 
them, and the sea remove before them. They were not used to 
such bulwarks. God stood behind them in the cloud, the sea 
reared them up walls on both sides them. That which they 
feared would be their destruction protected them: how easily 
can God make the cruellest of his creatures both our friends and 
patrons I 

Tet here was faith mixed with unbelief. He was a bold 
Israelite that set the first foot into the channel of the sea, and 
every step that they set in that moist way was a new exercise of 
their faith. 

Pharaoh sees all this, and wonders ; yet hath not the wit or 
grace to think, though the pillar tells him so much, that God 
made a difference betwixt him and Israel. He is offended with 
the sea for giving way to his enemies, and yet sees not why he 
may not trust it as well as they. He might well have thought, 
that he which gave light in Goshen when there was darkness in 
Egypt could as well distinguish in the sea, but he cannot now 
either consider or fear ; it is his time to perish. God makes him 
fair way, and lets him run smoothly on till he be come to the 
midst of the sea ; not one wave may rise up against him to wet 

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94 Of the plagues of Egypt. book i v. 

so much as the hoof of his horse. Extraordinary favours to wicked 
men are the forerunners of their ruin. 

Now when God sees the Egyptians too far to return, he finds 
time to strike them with their last terror : they know not why, 
but they would return too late. Those chariots in which they 
trusted now fail them, as having done service enough to carry 
them into perdition. God pursues them, and they cannot fly from 
him. Wicked men make equal haste both to sin and from judg- 
ment; but they shall one day find that it is not more easy to run 
into sin than impossible to run away from judgment; the sea 
will show them that it regards the rod of Moses, not the sceptre 
of Pharaoh ; and now, as glad to have got the enemies of God at 
such an advantage, shuts her mouth upon them and swallows 
them up in her waves ; and after she hath made sport with them 
a while, casts them upon her sand, for a spectacle of triumph to 
their adversaries. 

What a sight was this to the Israelites, when they were now 
safe on the shore, to see their enemies come floating after them 
upon the billows ; and to find among the carcasses upon the sands 
their known oppressors, which now they can tread upon with 
insultation! they did not cry more loud before than now they 
sing. Not their faith, but their sense, teaches them now to mag- 
nify that God after their deliverance, whom they hardly trusted 
for their deliverance. 

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Moat excellent Prince, — According to the true duty of a servant, I intended 
all my Contemplations to your now glorious brother, of sweet and sor- 
rowful memory. The first part whereof, as it was the last book that ever was 
dedicated to that dear and immortal name of his, so it was the last that was 
turned over by his gracious hand. 

Now, since it pleased the God of spirits to call him from these poor con- 
templations of ours, to the blessed contemplation of himself, to see him as he 
is, to see as he is seen ; to whom is this sequel of my labours due, but to your 
highness, the heir of his honour and virtues ? Every year of my short pil- 
grimage is like to add something to ibis work, which in regard of the subject 
is scarce finite : the whole doth not only crave your highness' s patronage, but 
promises to requite your princely acceptation with many sacred examples and 
rules, both for piety and wisdom, towards the decking up of this flourishing 
spring of your age ; in the hopes whereof, not only we live, but he that is 
dead lives still in you : and if any piece of these endeavours come short of my 
desires, I shall supply the rest with my prayers ; which shall never be wanting 
to the God of princes, that your happy proceedings may make glad the 
church of God, and yourself in either world glorious. 

Your bighness's in all humble devotion and faithful observance, 


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J. H. 




Israel was not more loath to come to the Red sea than to part 
from it. How soon can God turn the horror of any evil into 
pleasure ! One shore surrounded with shrieks of fear, the other 
with timbrels and dances, and songs of deliverance. Every main 
affliction is our Red sea, which while it threats to swallow, pre- 
serves us. At last our songs shall be louder than our cries. The 
Israelitish dames, when they saw their danger, thought they might 
have left their timbrels behind them ; how unprofitable a burden 
seemed those instruments of music ! yet now they live to renew 
that forgotten minstrelsy and dancing which their bondage had 
so long discontinued : and well might those feet dance upon the 
shore which had walked through the sea. The land of Ooshen 
was not so bountiful to them as these waters. That afforded them 
a servile life ; this gave them at once freedom, victory, riches ; 
bestowing upon them the remainder of that wealth which the 
Egyptians had but lent. It was a pleasure to see the floating 

b [The fifth Earl succeeded in 1605. It was under his great-uncle Henry, 
third Earl, that the Bishop's father was an officer.] 

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cont. i. The waters of Marah. 97 

carcasses of their adversaries; and every day offers them new 
booties : it is no marvel then if their hearts were tied to these 
banks. If we find but a little pleasure in our life, we are ready to 
dote upon it Every small contentment glues our affections to 
that we like : and if here our imperfect delights hold us so fast 
that we would not be loosed, how forcible shall those infinite joys 
be above, when our souls are once possessed of them ! 

Tet if the place had pleased them more, it is no marvel they 
were willing to follow Moses ; that they durst follow him in the 
wilderness, whom they followed through the sea : it is a great 
confirmation to any people, when they have seen the hand of 
God with their guide. O Saviour, which bast undertaken to 
carry me from the spiritual Egypt to the land of promise ; how 
faithful, how powerful, have I found thee ! how fearlessly should 
I trust thee I how cheerfully should I follow thee through con- 
tempt, poverty, death itself! Master, if it be thou, bid us come 
unto thee. 

Immediately before they had complained of too much water* 
now they go three days without. Thus God meant to punish 
their infidelity with the defect of that whose abundance made them 
to distrust. Before, they saw all water, no land ; now all dry 
and dusty land, and no water. Extremities are the best trials of 
men ; as in bodies, those that can bear sudden changes of heats 
and cold without complaint are the strongest. So much as an 
evil touches upon the mean, so much help it yields towards 
patience ; every degree of sorrow is a preparation of the next ; 
but when we pass to extremes without the mean, we want the 
benefit of recollection, and must trust to our present strength. To 
come from all things to nothing, is not a descent, but a downfall ; 
and it is a rare strength and constancy not to be maimed at least. 
These headlong evils, as they are the sorest, so they must be 
most provided for ; as, on the contrary, a sudden advancement 
from a low condition to the height of honour is most hard to 
manage. No man can marvel how that tyrant blinded his cap- 
tives, when he hears that he brought them immediately out of a 
dark dungeon into rooms that were made bright and glorious. 
We are not worthy to know for what we are reserved, no evil 
can amate us if we can overcome sudden extremities. 

The long deferring of a good, though tedious, yet makes it the 
better when it comes. Well did the Israelites hope that the 
waters which were so long in finding, would be precious when 


98 TJie waters of Marah. book v. 

they were found : yet behold they are crossed, not only in their 
desires but in their hopes ; for after three days' travel, the first 
fountains they find are bitter waters. If these wells had not run 
pure gall, they could not have so much complained : long thirst 
will make bitter waters sweet ; yet such were these springs, that 
the Israelites did not so much like their moisture as abhor their 
relish. I see the first handsel that God gives them in their 
voyage to the land of promise; thirst and bitterness. Satan 
gives us pleasant entrances into his ways, and reserves the bitter- 
ness for the end : God inures us to our worst at first, and sweetens 
our conclusion with pleasure. 

The same God that would not lead Israel through the Philis- 
tines' land, lest they should shrink at the sight of war, now leads 
them through the wilderness, and fears not to try their patience 
with bitter potions. If he had not loved them, the Egyptian 
furnace or sword had prevented their thirst, or that sea whereof 
their enemies drunk dead; and yet see how he diets them. 
Never any have had so bitter draughts upon earth as those he 
loves best : the palate is an ill judge of the favours of God. Omy 
Saviour, thou didst drink a more bitter cup from the hands of thy 
Father than that which thou refusedst of the Jews, or than that 
which I can drink from thee I 

Before, they could not drink if they would ; now, they might 
and would not. God can give us blessings with such a tang, that 
the fruition shall not much differ from the want : so, many a one 
hath riches, not grace to use them ; many have children, but such 
as they prefer barrenness. They had said before, " O that we 
had any water !" now, " O that we had good water I" It is good 
so to desire blessings from God, that we may be the better for 
enjoying them ; so to crave water, that it may not be sauced with 

Now, these fond Israelites, instead of praying, murmur ; instead 
of praying to God, murmur against Moses. What hath the 
righteous done ? He made not either the wilderness dry or the 
waters bitter ; yea, if his conduct were the matter, what one foot 
went he before them without God ? The pillar led them, and not 
he ; yet Moses is murmured at. It is the hard condition of au- 
thority, that when the multitude fare well they applaud themselves ; 
when ill, they repine against their governors. Who can hope to 
be free if Moses escape not ? Never any prince so merited of a 
people. He thrust himself upon the pikes of Pharaoh's tyranny. 

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cont. i. The waters of Marah. 99 

He brought them from a bondage worse than death. His rod 
divided the sea and shared life to them and death to their pur- 
suers. Who would not hate thought these men so obliged to 
Moses, that no death could have opened their mouths or raised 
their hands against him? Yet now the first occasion of want 
makes them rebel. No benefit can stop the mouth of impatience : 
if our turn be not served for the present, former favours are 
either forgotten or contemned. No marvel if we deal so with 
men, when God receives this measure from us. One year of 
famine, one summer of pestilence, one moon of unseasonable wea- 
ther, makes us overlook all the blessings of God ; and more to 
mutiny at the sense of our evil than to praise him for our varieties 
of good : whereas favours well bestowed leave us both mindful 
and confident, and will not suffer us either to forget or distrust. 
O God, I have made an ill use of thy mercies, if I have not learned 
to be content with thy corrections. 

Moses was in the same want of water with them, in the same 
distaste of bitterness, and yet they say to Moses, What shall we 
drink t If they had seen him furnished with full vessels of sweet 
water, and themselves put over to this unsavoury liquor, envy 
might have given some colour to this mutiny, but now their 
leader's common misery might have freed him from their mur- 
murs. They held it one piece of the late Egyptian tyranny, that 
a task was required of them which the imposers knew they could 
not perform, to make brick when they had no straw : yet they 
say to Moses, What shall we drink ? Themselves are grown ex- 
actors, and are ready to menace more than stripes if they have 
not their ends without means. Moses took not upon him their 
provision, but their deliverance ; and yet, as if he had been the 
common victualler of the camp, they ask, What shall we drink f 
When want meets with impatient minds, it transports them to 
fury, every thing disquiets, and nothing satisfies them. 

What course doth Moses now take ? That which they should 
have done, and did not : they cried not more fervently to him 
than he to God ; if he were their leader, God was his ; that which 
they unjustly required of him, he justly requires of God that 
could do it ; he knew whence to look for redress of all complaints ; 
this was not his charge but his Maker's, which was able to main- 
tain his own act. I see and acknowledge the harbour that we 
must put into in all our ill weather. It is to thee, O God, that 

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100 The waters of Marah. book v. 

we must pour out our hearts, which only canst make our bitter 
waters sweet. 

Might not that rod, which took away the liquid nature from 
the waters, and made them solid, have also taken away the bitter 
quality from these waters, and made them sweet ; since to flow is 
natural unto the water, to be bitter is but accidental ? Moses durst 
not employ his rod without a precept ; he knew the power came 
from the commandment. We may not presume on likelihoods, 
but depend upon warrants ; therefore Moses doth not lift up his 
rod to the waters, but his hand and voice to God. 

The hand of faith never knocketh at heaven in vain : no sooner 
hath Moses showed his grievance, than God shows him the re- 
medy; yet an unlikely one, that it might be miraculous. He 
that made the waters could have given them any savour : how 
easy is it for him that made the matter to alter the quality I It is 
not more hard to take away than to give. Who doubts but the 
same hand that created them might have immediately changed 
them ? Yet that almighty power will do it by means. A piece 
of wood must sweeten the waters : what relation hath wood to 
water ? or that which hath no savour, to the redress of bitterness ? 
Yet here is no more possibility of failing than proportion to the 
success. All things are subject to the command of their Maker ; 
he that made all of nothing can make every thing of any thing : 
there is so much power in every creature as he will please to give. 
It is the praise of Omnipotency to work by improbabilities ; Elisha 
with salt, Moses with wood, shall sweeten the bitter waters : let 
no man despise the means when he knows the Author. 

God taught his people by actions as well as words. This en- 
trance showed them their whole journey ; wherein they should 
taste of much bitterness, but at last, through the mercy of God, 
sweetened with comfort. Or did it not represent themselves ra- 
ther in the journey? in the fountains of whose hearts were the 
bitter waters of manifold corruptions, yet their unsavoury souls 
are sweetened by the graces of his Spirit. O blessed Saviour, 
the wood of thy cross, that is, the application of thy sufferings, 
is enough to sweeten a whole sea of bitterness. I care not how 
unpleasant a potion I find in this wilderness, if the power and 
benefit of thy precious death may season it to my soul. 

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cont. ii. The quails and manna. 101 


The thirst of Israel is well quenched ; for, besides the change 
of the waters of Marah, their station is changed to Elim ; where 
were twelve fountains for their twelve tribes ; and now they com- 
plain as fast of hunger. 

Contentation is a rare blessing ; because it arises either from 
a fruition of all comforts, or a not desiring of some which we 
have not. Now, we are never so bare as not to have some bene- 
fits; never so full as not to want something, yea as not to bo 
full of wants. God hath much ado with us; either we lack 
health, or quietness, or children, or wealth, or company, or our- 
selves in all these. It is a wonder these men found not fault 
with the want of sauce to their quails, or with their old clothes, 
or their solitary way. Nature is moderate in her desires, but 
conceit is unsatiable. Yet who can deny hunger to be a sore 
vexation ? Before they were forbidden sour bread, but now what 
leaven is so sour as want ? When means hold out, it is easy to 
be content. While their dough and other cates lasted, while 
they were gathering of the dates of Elim, we hear no news of 
them. Who cannot pray for his daily bread, when he hath it in 
bis cupboard ? But when our own provision fails us, then not to 
distrust the provision of God is a noble trial of faith. They 
should have said ; " He that stopped the mouth of the sea, that 
it could not devour us, can as easily stop the mouth of our 
stomachs : it was no easier matter to kill the firstborn of Egypt 
by his immediate hand, than to preserve us : he that commanded 
the sea to stand still and guard us, can as easily command the 
earth to nourish us: he that made the rod a serpent, can as 
well make these stones bread : he that brought armies of frogs 
and caterpillars to Egypt, can as well bring whole drifts of birds 
and beasts to the desert: he that sweetened the waters with 
wood, can as well refresh our bodies with the fruits of the earth. 
Why do we not wait on him whom we have found so powerful?" 
Now they set the mercy and love of God upon a wrong last, 
while they measure it only by their present sense. Nature is 
jocund and cheerful while it prospereth : let God withdraw his 
hand; no sight, no trust. Those can praise him with timbrels 
for a present favour, that cannot depend upon him in the want 
of means for a future. We all are never weary of receiving, 
soon weary of attending. 

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102 The quails and manna. book v. 

The other mutiny was of some few raalecontents, perhaps those 
strangers which sought their own protection under the wing of 
Israel ; this, of the whole troop. Not that none were free, Ca- 
leb, Joshua, Moses, Aaron, Miriam were not yet tainted : usually 
God measures the state of any church or country by the most ; 
the greater part carries both the name and the censure. Sins 
are so much greater as they are more universal ; so far is evil 
from being extenuated by the multitude of the guilty, that no- 
thing can more aggravate it. With men, commonness may plead 
for favour ; with God, it pleads for judgment. Many hands draw 
the cable with more violence than few : the leprosy of the whole 
body is more loathsome than that of a part. 

But what do these mutineers say, O that we had died by the 
hand of the Lord ! And whose hand was this, O ye fond Israel- 
ites, if ye must perish by famine ? God carried you forth ; God 
restrained his creatures from you : and while you are ready to 
die thus, ye say, that we had died by the hand qftlu Lord! 

It is the folly of men, that in immediate judgments they can 
see God's hand ; not in those whose second causes are sensible : 
whereas God holds himself equally interested in all ; challenging 
that there is no evil in the city but from him. It is but one 
hand and many instruments that God strikes us with : the water 
may not lose the name, though it come by channels and pipes 
from the spring. It is our faithlessness, that in visible means 
we see not him that is invisible. 

And when would they have wished to die? When we eat by 
the flesh pots of Egypt : alas I what good would their flesh pots 
have done them in their death ? If they might sustain their life, 
yet what could they avail them in dying ? for if they were un- 
pleasant, what comfort was it to see them ? if pleasant, what com- 
fort to part from them ? Our greatest pleasures are but pains in 
their loss. Every mind affects that which is like itself. Carnal 
minds are for the flesh pots of Egypt, though bought with servi- 
tude; spiritual are for the presence of God, though redeemed 
with famine, and would rather die in God's presence, than live 
without him in the sight of delicate or full dishes. 

They loved their lives well enough : I heard how they shrieked 
when they were in danger of the Egyptians ; yet now they say, 
that we had died! not, " O that we might live by the flesh 
pots;" but, that we had died! Although life be naturally 
sweet, yet a little discontentment makes us weary. It is a base 

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cont. ii. The quails and manna. 10$ 

cowardliness, so soon as ever we are called from the garrison to 
the field, to think of running away. Then is our fortitude worthy 
of praise, when we can endure to be miserable. 

But what! can no flesh pots serve but those of Egypt? I am 
deceived if that land afforded them any flesh pots save their own : 
their landlords of Egypt held it abomination to eat of their dishes, 
or to kill that which they did eat. In those times then they did 
eat of their own ; and why not now ? They had droves of cattle 
in the wilderness : why did they not take of them ? Surely, if 
they would have been as good husbands of their cattle as they 
were of their dough, they might have had enough to eat without 
need of murmuring : for if their back-burden of dough lasted for 
a month, their herds might have served them many years. All 
grudging is odious ; but most when our hands are full. To whine 
in the midst of abundance is a shameful unthankfulness. 

When a man would have looked that the anger of God should 
have appeared in fire ; now behold, his glory appears in a cloud. 
O the exceeding longsuffering of God, that hears their mur- 
raurings ! and, as if he had been bound to content them, instead 
of punishing, pleases them ; as a kind mother would deal with a 
crabbed child, who rather stills him with the breast than calls 
for the rod. One would have thought that the sight of the 
cloud of God should have dispelled the cloud of their distrust ; 
and this glory of God should have made them ashamed of them- 
selves, and afraid of him : yet 1 do not hear them once say, 
"What a mighty and gracious God have we distrusted!" No- 
thing will content an impotent mind but fruition. When a heart 
is hardened with any passion, it will endure much ere it will 
yield to relent. 

Their eyes saw the cloud; their ears heard the promise, the 
performance is speedy and answerable. Needs must they be 
convinced, when they saw God as glorious in his work as in his 
presence; when they saw his word justified by his act. God 
tells them aforehand what he will do, that their expectation 
might stay their hearts. He^doth that which he foretold, that 
they might learn to trust him ere he perform. 

They desired meat, and receive quails; they desired bread, 
and have manna. If they had had of the coarsest flesh, and of 
the basest pulse, hunger would have made it dainty : but now 
God will pamper their famine; and gives them meat of kings 
and bread of angels. What a world of quails were but sufficient 

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104 The quails and manna. book v. 

to serve six hundred thousand persons! They were all strong, 
all hungry : neither could they be satisfied with single fowls. 
What a table hath God prepared in the desert, for abundance, 
for delicacy ! 

Never prince was so served in his greatest pomp, as these re- 
bellious Israelites in the wilderness. God loves to over-deserve 
of men : and to exceed not only their sins, but their very desires, 
in mercy. How good shall we find him to those that please 
him, since he is so gracious to offenders ! If the most graceless 
Israelites be fed with quails and manna; O, what goodness is 
that he hath laid up for them that love him ! As, on the con- 
trary, if the righteous scarce be saved, where will the sinners 
appear? O God, thou canst, thou wilt make this difference. 
Howsoever with us men the most crabbed and stubborn often- 
times fares the best, the righteous Judge of the world frames his 
remunerations as he finds us ; and if his mercy sometimes pro- 
yoke the worst to repentance by his temporal favours, yet he 
ever reserves so much greater reward for the righteous, as eter- 
nity is beyond time, and heaven above earth. 

It was not of any natural instinct, but from the overruling 
power of their Creator, that these quails came to the desert. 
Needs must they come whom GOD brings. His hand is in all 
the motions of his meanest creatures. Not only we, but they 
move in him. As not many quails, so not one sparrow falls 
without him : how much more are the actions of his best crea- 
ture, man, directed by his providence ! 

How ashamed might these Israelites have been, to see these 
creatures so obedient to their Creator, as to come and offer 
themselves to their slaughter, while they went so repiningly to 
his service and their own preferment I Who can distrust the 
provision of the great Housekeeper of the world, when he sees 
how he can furnish his tables at pleasure? Is he grown now 
careless, or we faithless rather? Why do we not repose upon 
his mercy ? Rather than we shall want, when we trust him, he 
will fetch quails from all the coa^s of heaven to our board. O 
Lord, thy hand is not shortened to give ; let not ours be short- 
ened or shut in receiving. 

Elijah's servitors, the ravens, brought him his full service of 
bread and flesh at once ; each morning and evening. But these 
Israelites have their flesh at even, and their bread in the morn- 
ing. Good reason there should be a difference. Elijah's table 

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cont. ii. The quails and manna. 105 

was upon God's direct appointment; the Israelites' upon their 
mutiny : although God will relieve them with provision, yet he 
will punish their impatience with delay; so shall they know 
themselves his people, that they shall find they were murmurers. 

Not only in the matter, but in the order, God answers their 
grudging. First they complain of the want of flesh pots, then 
of bread. In the first place therefore they have flesh, bread 
after. When they have flesh, yet they must stay a time ere they 
can have a full meal ; unless they would eat their meat breadless, 
and their bread dry. God will be waited on, and will give the 
consummation of his blessings at his own leisure. In the evening 
of our life we have the first pledges of his favour; but in the 
morning of our resurrection must we look for our perfect satiety 
of the true manna, the bread of life. 

Now the Israelites sped well with their quails, they did eat and 
digest and prosper ; not long after, they have quails with a ven- 
geance, the meat was pleasant, but the sauce was fearful : they 
let down the quails at their mouth, but they came out at their 
nostrils. How much better had it been to have died of hunger, 
through the chastisement of God, than of the plague of God, with 
the flesh betwixt their teeth ! Behold, they perish of the same 
disease then whereof they now recover. The same sin repeated 
is death, whose first act found remission : relapses are desperate 
where the sickness itself is not. With us men, once goes away with 
a warning, the second act is but whipping, the third is death. It 
is a mortal thing to abuse the lenity of God ; we should be pre- 
sumptuously mad y to hope that God will stand us for a sinning- 
stock to provoke him how we will. It is more mercy than he 
owes us if he forbear us once : it is his justice to plague us the 
second time ; we may thank ourselves if we will not be warned. 

Their meat was strange, but nothing so much as their bread. 
To find quails in a wilderness was unusual, but for bread to come 
down 'from heaven was yet more. They had seen quails before, 
though not in such number; manna was never seen till now. 
From this day till their settling in Canaan God wrought a per- 
petual miracle in this food : a miracle in the place ; other bread 
rifaes up from below, this fell down from above ; neither did it 
ever rain bread till now ; yet so did this heavenly shower fall, that 
it is confined to the camp of Israel : a miracle in the quantity, 
that every morning should fall enough to fill so many hundred 
thousand mouths and maws : a miracle in the composition, that it 

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106 The quads and manna. book vi. 

was sweet like honey-cakes, round like corianders, transparent as 
dew : a miracle in the quality, that it melted by one heat, by 
another hardened : a miracle in the difference of the fall, that as if 
it knew times, and would teach them as well as feed them, it fell 
double in the even of the sabbath, and on the sabbath fell not : 
a miracle in the putrefaction and preservation, that it was full of 
worms when it was kept beyond the due hour for distrust ; full 
of sweetness when it was kept a day longer for religion, yea many 
ages in the ark for a monument of the power and mercy of the 
Giver : a miracle in the continuance and ceasing, that this shower 
of bread followed their camp in all their removals, till they came 
to taste of the bread of Canaan, and then withdrew itself, as if it 
should have said, " Ye need no miracles now ye have means." 

They had the types, we have the substance. In this wilderness 
of the world the true manna is rained upon the tents of our 
hearts. He that sent the manna was the manna which he sent : 
he hath said, I am the manna that came down from heaven. 
Behold, their whole meals were sacramental ; every morsel they 
did eat was spiritual. We eat still of their manna, still he comes 
down from heaven. He hath substance enough for worlds of 
souls, yet only is to be found in the lists of the true church. He 
hath more sweetness than the honey and the honeycomb. Happy 
are we, if we can find him so sweet as ho is. 

The same hand that rained manna upon their tents, could have 
rained it into their mouths or laps. God loves we should take 
pains for our spiritual food. Little would it have availed them 
that the manna lay about their tents, if they had not gone 
forth and gathered it, beaten it, baked it : let salvation be never 
so plentiful, if we bring it not home, and make it ours by faith, 
we are no whit the better. If the work done and means used 
had been enough to give life, no Israelite had died ; their bellies 
were full of that bread whereof one crumb gives life, yet they 
died many of them in displeasure. 

As in natural so in spiritual things, we may not trust to 
means : the carcass of the sacrament cannot give life, but the soul 
of it, which is the thing represented. I see each man gather and 
take his just measure out of the common heap. We must be in- 
dustrious and helpful to each other: but when we have done, 
Christ is not partial. If our sanctification differ, yet our justifi- 
cation is equal in all. 

He that gave a gomer to each could have given an ephah : as 

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cont. in. The rock of Rephidim. 107 

easily could he have rained down enough for a month or a year 
at once as for a day. God delights to have us live in a continual 
dependence upon his providence, and each day renew the acts of 
our faith and thankfulness. But what a covetous Israelite was 
that, which in a foolish distrust would be sparing the charges of 
God, and reserving that for morning which he should have spent 
upon his supper ! He shall know, that even the bread that came 
down from heaven can corrupt : the manna was from above, the 
worms and stink from his diffidence. Nothing is so sovereign, which, 
being perverted, may not annoy instead of benefiting us. 

Yet I see some difference between the true and typical manna ; 
God never meant that the shadow and the body should agree in 
all things. The outward mamna reserved was poison, the spiritual 
manna is to us as it was to the ark, not good unless it be kept 
perpetually ; if we keep it, it shall keep us from putrefaction. 
The outward manna fell not at all on the sabbath ; the spiritual 
manna, though it balks no day, yet it falls double on God's day : 
and if we gather it not then, we famish. In that true sabbath 
of our glorious rest we shall for ever feed of that manna which 
we havtf gathered in this even of our life. 

THE ROCK OF REPHIDIM.— Exodus xvii. 

Before, Israel thirsted and was satisfied ; after that, they hun- 
gered and were filled ; now they thirst again. They have bread 
and meat, but want drink : it is a marvel if God do not evermore 
hold us short of something, because he would keep us still in ex- 
ercise. We should forget at whose cost we live if we wanted 
nothing. Still God observes a vicissitude of evil and good, and 
the same evils that we have passed return upon us in their courses. 
Crosses are not of the nature of those diseases which they say a 
man can have but once. Their first seizure doth but make way 
for their reentry. None but our last enemy comes once for all, 
and I know not if that : for even in living we die daily. So must 
we take our leaves of all afflictions, that we reserve a lodging for 
them and expect their return. 

All Israel murmured when they wanted bread, meat, water ; 
Ad yet all Israel departed from the wilderness of Sin to Rephidim 
at God's command. The very worst men will obey God in some- 
thing, none but the good in all : he is rarely desperate that makes 

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1 08 The rock of Rephidim . book v . 

an universal opposition to God. It is an unsound praise that is 
given a man for one good action. It may be safely said of the 
very devils themselves, that they do something well, they know 
and believe and tremble. If we follow God and murmur, it is all 
one as if we had stayed behind. 

Those distrust his providence in their necessity, that are ready 
to follow his guidance in their welfare. It is an harder matter to 
endure in extreme want, than to obey an hard commandment. 
Sufferings are greater trials than actions: how many have we 
seen jeopard their lives with cheerful resolution, which cannot en- 
dure in cold blood to lose a limb with patience ! Because God 'will 
have his throughly tried, he puts them to both ; and if we can- 
not endure both to follow him from Sin, and to thirst in Rephidim, 
we are not sound Israelites. 

God led them on purpose to this dry Rephidim : he could as 
well have conducted them to another Elim, to convenient water- 
ings ; or he that gives the waters of all their channels, could as well 
have derived them to meet Israel ; but God doth purposely carry 
them to thirst. It is not for necessity that we fare ill, but out of 
choice : it were all one with God to give us health as sickness, 
abundance as poverty. The treasury of his riches hath more 
store than his creature can be capable of: we could not complain 
if it were not good for us to want. 

This should have been a contentment able to quench any thirst : 
God hath led us thither; if Moses out of ignorance had mis- 
guided us, or we chanceably fallen upon these dry deserts, though 
this were no remedy of our grief, yet it might be some ground of 
our complaint. But now the counsel of so wise and merciful a God 
hath drawn us into this want, and shall not he as easily find the 
way out ? It tithe Lord, let him do what he will. There can be 
no more forcible motive to patience than the acknowledgment of a 
divine hand that strikes us. It is fearful to be in the hand of an 
adversary, but who would not be confident of a father ? Yet in 
our frail humanity, choler may transport a man from remem- 
brance of nature ; but when we feel ourselves under the discipline 
of a wise God, that can temper our afflictions to our strength, to 
our benefit, who would not rather murmur at himself than he 
should swerve towards impatience? Yet these sturdy Israelites 
wilfully murmur, and will not have their thirst quenched with 
faith, but with water. Give us water. 

I looked to hear when they would have entreated Moses to 

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cont. in. The rock of Rephidim. 109 

pray for them ; but instead of entreating, they contend ; and in- 
stead of prayers, I find commands : Give us water. If they had 
gone to God without Moses, I should have praised their faith ; 
but now they go to Moses without God, I hate their stubborn 
faithlessness. To seek to the second means with neglect of the first 
is the fruit of a false faith. 

The answer of Moses is like himself, mild and sweet: Why 
.contend you with me ? Why tempt ye the Lord ? in the first ex- 
postulation condemning them of injustice, since not he but the 
Lord afflicted them : in the second, of presumption, that since it 
was God that tempted them by want, they should tempt him by 
murmuring : in the one, he would have them see their wrong ; 
in the other, their danger. As the act came not from him but 
from God ; so he puts it off to God from himself, Why tempt ye 
the Lord? The opposition which is made to the instruments of 
God redounds over to his person. He holds himself smitten 
through the sides of his ministers : so hath God incorporated these 
respects, that our subtlety cannot divide them. 

But what temptation is this ? Is the Lord among us or no? 
Infidelity is crafty and yet foolish, crafty in her insinuations, 
foolish in her conceits. They imply, " If we were sure the Lord 
were with us, we would not distrust ;" they conceive doubts of his 
presence after such confirmations. What could God do more to 
make them know him present, unless every moment should have 
renewed miracles ? The plagues of Egypt and the division of the 
sea were so famous, that the very inns of Jericho rang of them. 
Their waters were lately sweetened, the quails were yet in their 
teeth, the manna was yet in their eye, yea, they saw God in the 
pillar of the cloud, and yet they say, Is the Lord amongst us t 
No argument is enough to an incredulous heart ; not reason, not 
sense, not experience. How much better was that faith of Thomas, 
that would believe his eyes and hands, though his ears he would 
not ! O the deep infidelity of these Israelites, that saw and be- 
lieved not ! 

And how will they know if God be amongst them? As if he 
could not be with them, and they be athirst ! Either God must 
humour carnal minds or be distrusted : if they prosper, though 
it be with wickedness, God is with them : if they be thwarted in 
their own designs, straight, Is God with us ? It was the way to 
put God from them, to distrust and murmur. If he had not been 
with them, they had not lived ; if he had been in them, they had 

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110 The rock of Rephidim. book v. 

not mutinied. They can think him absent in their want, and 
cannot see him absent in their sin : and jet wickedness, * not 
affliction, argues him gone: yet then is he most present when 
he most chastises. 

Who would not have looked that this answer of Moses should 
have appeased their fury ? As what can still him that will not 
be quiet to think he hath God for his adversary ? But as if they 
would wilfully war against heaven, they proceed; yet with no. 
less craft than violence ; bending their exception to one part of 
the answer, and smoothly omitting what they could not except 
against. They will not hear of tempting God; they maintain 
their strife with Moses, both with words and stones. How ma- 
licious, how heady is impatience! The act was God's; they. cast 
it upon Moses, Wherefore hast thou brought us ? The act of God 
was merciful ; they make it cruel. To kill us and our children ; 
as if God and Moses meant nothing but their ruin, who intended 
nothing but their life and liberty. Foolish men ! What needed 
this journey to death ? Were they not as obnoxious to God in 
Egypt ? Could not God by Moses as easily have killed them, in 
Egypt or in the sea, as their enemies ? Impatience is full of mis- 
construction : if it be possible to find out any gloss to corrupt the 
text of God's actions, they shall be sure not to escape untainted. 

It was no expostulating with an unreasonable multitude : Moses 
runs straight to him that was able at once to quench their thirst 
and their fury : What shall I do to this people ? It is the best 
way to trust God with his own causes : when men will be inter- 
meddling with his affairs, they undo themselves in vain. We shall 
find difficulties in all great enterprises : if we be sure we have 
begun them from God, we may securely cast all events upon his 
providence, which knows how to dispose and how to end them. 

Moses perceived rage, not in the tongues only, but in the 
hands of the Israelites. Yet a while longer, and they will stone 
me* Even the leader of God's people feared death ; and sinned 
not in fearing. Life is worthy to be dear to all; especially to 
him whom public charge hath made necessary : mere fear is not 
sinful : it is impotence and distrust that accompany it which 
make it evil. How well is that fear bestowed that sends us the 
more importunately to God ! Some man would have thought of 
flight; Moses flies to his prayers; and that not for revenge, but 
for help. Who but Moses would not have said, ''This twice 
they have mutinied, and been pardoned ; and now again thou 

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cont. in. The rock of Rephidim. Ill 

seest, O Lord, how madly they rebel; and how bloodily they 
intend against me; preserve me, I beseech thee, and plague 
them:" I hear none of tfcis; but, imitating the longsuffering 
of his God, he seeks to God for them, which sought to kill him 
for the quarrel of God. 

Neither is God sooner sought than found : all Israel might see 
Moses go towards the rock ; none but the elders might see him 
strike it Their unbelief made them unworthy of this privilege. 
It is no small favour of God to make us witnesses of his great 
works ; that he crucifies his Son before us, that he fetches the 
water of life out of the true Rock in our sight, is an high preroga- 
tive : if his rigour would have taken it, our infidelity had equally 
excluded us, whom now his mercy hath received. 

Hoses must take his rod : God could have done it by his will 
without a word, or by his word without the rod ; but he will do 
by means that which he can as easily do without There was no 
virtue in the rod, none in the stroke ; but all in the command of 
God. Means must be used, and yet their efficacy must be ex- 
pected out of themselves. 

It doth not suffice God to name the rod without a description ; 
Whereby thou vmotest the river: wherefore, but to strengthen 
the faith of Moses, that he might well expect this wonder from 
that which he had tried to be miraculous? How could he but 
firmly believe, that the same means which turned the waters into 
blood, and turned the sea into a wall, could as well turn the stone 
into water ? Nothing more raises up the heart in present affiance 
than the recognition of favours or wonders past. Behold, the 
same rod that brought plagues to the Egyptians brings deliver- 
ances to Israel ! By the same means can God save and condemn ; 
like as the same sword defends and kills. 

That power which turned the wings of the quails to the wilder- 
ness, turned the course of the water through the rock : he might, 
if he had pleased, have caused a spring to well out of the plain 
earth ; but he will now fetch it out of the stone, to convince and 
shame their infidelity. 

What is more hard and dry than the rock ? What more moist 
and supple than water? That they may be ashamed to think 
they distrusted lest God could bring them water out of the clouds 
or springs, the very rock shall yield it 

And now, unless their hearts had been more rocky than this 

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112 The foil of Amalek ; book v. 

stone, they could not but have resolved into tears for this dif- 

I wonder to see these Israelites fqd with sacraments. Their 
bread was sacramental, whereof they communicated every day : 
lest any man should complain of frequence, the Israelites received 
daily; and now their drink was sacramental, that the ancient 
church may give no warrant of a dry communion. 

Twice therefore hath the rock yielded them water of refresh- 
ing, to signify that the true spiritual rock yields it always. The 
rock that followed them was Christ : out of thy side, O Saviour, 
issued that bloody stream, whereby the thirst of all believers is 
comfortably quenched : let us but thirst ; not with repining, but 
with faith ; this rock of thine shall abundantly flow forth to our 
souls, and follow us, till this water be changed into that new 
wine, which we shall drink with thee in thy Father's kingdom. 

LIFT UP.— Exodus xvii. 

No sooner is Israel's thirst slaked, than God hath an Amalekite 
ready to assault them. The Almighty hath choice of rods to 
whip us with; and will not be content with one trial. They 
would needs be quarrelling with Moses without a cause; and 
now God sends the AmaJekites to quarrel with them. It is just 
with God, that they which would be contending with their best 
friends should have work enough of contending with enemies. 

In their passage out of Egypt God would not lead them the 
nearest way by the Philistines' land, lest they should repent 
at the sight of war ; now they both see and feel it. He knows 
how to make the fittest choice of the times of evil ; and with- 
holds that one while which he sends another, not without a just 
reason why he sends and withholds it : and though to us they 
come ever, as we think, unseasonably, and at some times more 
unfitly than others, yet he that sends them knows their oppor- 

Who would not have thought a worse time could never have 
been picked for Israel's war than now? In the feebleness of 
their troops, when they were wearied, thirsty, unweaponed ; yet 
now must the Amalekites do that which before the Philistines 

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cont. iv. or, the hand of Moses lift up. 118 

might not do : we are not worthy, not able to choose for our- 

To be sick and die in the strength of youth, in the minority 
of children ; to be pinched with poverty, or miscarriage of chil- 
dren, in our age, how harshly unseasonable it seems ! But the 
infinite wisdom that orders our events, knows how to order our 
times. Unless we will be shameless unbelievers, O Lord, we 
must trust thee with ourselves and our seasons ; and know, that 
not that which we desire, but that which thou hast appointed, is 
the fittest time for our sufferings. 

Amalek was Esau's grandchild ; and these Israelites the sons 
of Jacob. The abode of Amalek was not so far from Egypt, 
but they might well hear what became of their cousins of Israel ; 
and now, doubtless, out of envy watched their opportunity of 
revenge for their old grudge. Malice is commonly hereditary, 
and runs in the blood; and, as we use to say of rennet, the 
older it is, the stronger. 

Hence is that foolish hostility which some men unjustly 
nourish upon no other grounds than the quarrels of their fore- 
fathers. To wreak our malice upon posterity is, at the best, but 
the humour of an Amalekite. 

How cowardly and how crafty was this skirmish of Amalek 1 
They do not bid them battle in fair terms of war, but, without all 
noise of warning, come stealing upon the hindmost, and fall upon 
the weak and scattered remnants of Israel. There is no looking 
for favour at the hands of malice : the worst that either force or 
fraud can do must be expected of an adversary ; but much more 
of our spiritual enemy, by how much his hatred is deeper. 
Behold, this Amalek lies in ambush to hinder our passage unto 
our land of promise; and subtly takes all advantages of our 
weaknesses. We cannot be wise nor safe if we stay behind our 
colours, and strengthen not those parts where is most peril of 

I do not hear Moses say to his Joshua, " Amalek is come up 
against us ; it matters not whether thou go against him or not ; 
or if thou go, whether alone or with company ; or if accompanied, 
whether with many or few, strong or weak ; or if strong men, 
whether they fight or no ; I will pray on the hill :" but, Choose 
us out men, and go fight. 

Then only can we pray with hope, when we have done our 
best. And though the means cannot effect that which we desire, 


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114 ThefoUofAmalek; book v. 

yet God will have us use the likeliest means on our part to effect 
it. Where it comes immediately from the charge of God, any 
means are effectual : one stick of wood shall fetch water out of 
the rock, another shall fetch bitterness out of the water ; but in 
those projects which we make for our own purposes, we must 
choose those helps which promise most efficacy. In vain shall 
Moses be upon the hill, if Joshua be not in the valley. Prayer 
without means is a mockery of God. 

Here are two shadows of one substance ; the same Christ in 
Joshua fights against our spiritual Amalek, and in Moses spreads 
out his arms upon the hill; and in both conquers. And why 
doth he climb up the hill rather than pray in the valley ? perhaps 
that he might have the more freedom to his thoughts; which, 
following the sense, are so much more heavenly as the eye sees 
more of heaven : though virtue lies not in the place, jet choice 
must be made of those places which may be most help to our 
devotion ; perhaps that he might be in the eye of Israel. 

The presence and sight of the leader gives heart to the people, 
neither doth any thing more move the multitude than example- 
A public person cannot hide himself in the valley, but yet it be- 
comes him best to show himself upon the hill. 

The hand of Moses must be raised, but not empty ; neither is 
it his own rod that he holds, but God's. In the first meeting of 
God with Moses, the rod was Moses's : it is like for the use of 
his trade : now the propriety » is altered, God hath so wrought by 
it, that now he challenges it, and Moses dare not call it his own. 

ThoBe things which it pleases God to use for his own service 
are now changed in their condition. The bread of the sacrament 
was once the baker's, now it is God's ; the water was once every 
man's, now it is the laver of regeneration. It is both unjust and 
unsafe to hold those things common wherein God hath a pecu- 

At other times, upon occasion of the plagues and of the quails 
and of the rock, he was commanded to take the rod in his hand, 
now he doth it unbidden : he doth it not now for miraculous ope* 
ration, but for encouragement: for when the Israelites should 
cast up their eyes to the hill and see Moses and his rod, (the man 
and the means that had wrought so powerfully for them,) they 
could not but take heart to themselves, and think, " There is the 
man that delivered us from the Egyptian, why not now from the 

a [property.] 

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cont. iv. or, the hand of Moses lift up. 115 

Amalekite ? There is the rod which turned waters to blood, and 
brought varieties of plagues upon Egypt, why not now on 

Nothing can more hearten our faith than the view of the mo* 
numents of God's favour : if ever we have found any word or act 
of God cordial to us, it is good to fetch it forth oft to the eye. 
The renewing of our sense and remembrance makes every gift of 
God perpetually beneficial 

If Moses had received a command, that rod which fetched water 
from the rock could as well have fetched the blood of the Amale- 
kites out of their bodies. God will not work miracles always, 
neither must we expect them unbidden. 

Not as a standardbearer so much as a suppliant doth Moses 
lift up his hand : the gesture of the body should both express and 
further the piety of the souL This flesh of ours is not a good 
servant, unless it help us in the best offices. The God of spirits 
doth most respect the soul of our devotion, yet it is both unman- 
nerly and irreligious to be misgestured in our prayers. The care- 
less and uncomely carriage of the body helps both to signify and 
make a profane soul. 

The hand and the rod of Moses never moved in vain : though 
the rod did not strike Amalek as it had done the rock, yet it 
smote heaven and fetched down victory. And that the Israelites 
might see the hand of Moses had a greater stroke in the fight 
than all theirs, the success must rise and fall with it : Amalek 
rose and Israel fell, with his hand falling ; Amalek fell and Israel 
rises, with his hand raised. O the wondrous power of the prayers 
of faith ! All heavenly favours are derived to us from this channel 
of grace : to these are we beholden for our peace, preservations, 
and all the rich mercies of God which we enjoy. We could not 
want if we could ask. 

Every man's hand would not have done this, but the hand of 
a Moses. A faithless man may as well hold his hand and tongue 
still; he may babble, but prays not; he prays ineffectually, and 
receives not : only # tbe prayer of the righteous availeth much, and 
only the believer is righteous. 

There can be no merit, no recompense, answerable to a good 
man's prayer, for heaven and the ear of God is open to him : but 
the formal devotions of an ignorant and faithless man are not 
worth that crust of bread which he asks ; yea, it is presumption 

I 2 

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116 The foil of Amalek, tyc. book v. 

in himself, how should it be beneficial to others ? it profanes the 
name of God instead of adoring it. 

But how justly is the fervency of the prayer added to the 
righteousness of the person! When Moses's hand slackened, 
Amalek prevailed. No Moses can have his hand ever up : it is 
a title proper to God, that his hands are stretched out still, 
whether to mercy or vengeance. Our infirmity will not suffer 
any long attention either of body or mind. Long prayers can 
hardly maintain their vigour, as in tall bodies the spirits are dif- 
fused. The strongest hand will languish with long extending ; 
and when our devotion tires, it is seen in the success ; then straight 
our Amalek prevails. Spiritual wickednesses are mastered by vehe- 
ment prayer, and by heartlessness in prayer overcome us. 

Moses had two helps, a stone to sit on, and an hand to raise his ; 
and his sitting and holpen hand is no whit less effectual. Even in 
our prayers will God allow us to respect our own infirmities. In 
cases of our necessity he regards not the posture of body, but the 
affections of the soul. 

Doubtless Aaron and Hur did not only raise their hands, but 
their minds with his ; the more cords, the easier draught. Aaron 
was brother to Moses : there cannot be a more brotherly office 
than to help one another in our prayers, and to excite our mutual 
devotions. No Christian may think it enough to pray alone : he 
is no true Israelite that will not be ready to lift up the weary 
hands of God's saints. 

All Israel saw this; or, if they were so intent upon the 
slaughter and spoil that they observed it not, they might bear it 
after from Aaron and Hur : yet this contents not God, It must 
be written. Many other miracles hath God done before: not 
one directly commanded to be recorded : the other were only for 
the wonder, this for the imitation of God's people. In things that 
must live by report, every tongue adds or detracts something. 
The word once written is both unalterable and permanent. 

As God is careful to maintain the glory of his miraculous vic- 
tory, so is Moses desirous to second him ; God by a book, and 
Moses by an altar and a name. God commands to enrol it in 
parchment, Moses registers it in the stones of his altar, which he 
raises, not only for future memory, but for present use. 

That hand, which was weary of lifting up, straight offers a 
sacrifice of praise to God : how well it becomes the just to be 

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cont. v. The law. 117 

thankful ! Even very nature teacheth us men to abhor ingratitude 
in small favours. How much less can that fountain of goodness 
abide to be laded at with unthankful hands ! O God, we cannot 
but confess our deliverances; where are our altars? where are 
our sacrifices ? where is our Jehovah Nissi ? I do not more wonder 
at thy power in .preserving us, than at thy mercy, which is not 
weary of casting away favours upon the ungrateful. 

THE LAW.— Exodus xix, xx. 

It is but about seven weeks since Israel came out of Egypt, in 
which space God had cherished their faith by five several won- 
ders : yet now he thinks it time to give them statutes from heaven, 
as well as bread. 

The manna and water from the rock (which was Christ in the 
gospel) were given before the law; the sacraments of grace 
before the legal covenant. The grace of God preventeth our 
obedience : therefore should we keep the law of God, because we 
have a Saviour. O the mercy of our God ! which, before we see 
what we are bound to do, shows us our remedy, if we do it not : 
how can our faith disannul the law, when it was before it ? It may 
help to fulfil that which shall be : it cannot frustrate that which 
was not. 

The letters which God bad written in our fleshy tables were 
now, as those which are carved on some barks, almost grown out ; 
he saw it time to write them in dead tables, whose hardness should 
not be capable of alteration : he knew that the stone would be 
more faithful than our hearts. 

O marvellous accordance betwixt the two testaments ! In the 
very time of their delivery there is the same agreement which is 
in the substance. The ancient Jews kept our feasts, and we still 
keep theirs. The feast of the passover is the time of Christ's re- 
surrection; then did he pass from under the bondage of death. 
Christ is our passover, the spotless lamb, whereof not a bone 
must be broken. The very day wherein God came down in fire 
and thunder to deliver the law, even the same day came also the 
Holy Ghost down upon the disciples in fiery tongues for the pro- 
pagation of the gospel That other was in fire and smoke, obscu- 
rity was mingled with terror: this was in fire without smoke, 

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118 The law. book v. 

befitting the light and clearness of the gospel : fire, not in flashes, 
but in tongues ; not to terrify, but to instruct. The promulgation 
of the law makes way for the law of the gospel : no man receives 
the Holy Ghost, but he which hath felt the terrors of Sinai. 

God might have imposed upon them a law per force : they were 
his creatures, and he could require nothing but. justice. It had 
been but equal that they should be compelled to obey their 
Maker ; yet that God, which loves to do all things sweetly, gives 
the law of justice in mercy, and will not imperiously command, 
but craves our assent for that which it were rebellion not to do. 

How gentle should be the proceeding of fellow creatures, who 
have an equality of being with an inequality of condition, when 
their infinite Maker requests where he might constrain ! God will 
make no covenant with the unwilling, how much less the covenant 
of grace, which stands all upon love ! If we stay till God offer 
violence to our will, or to us against our will, we shall die strangers 
from him. The Church is the spouse of Christ : he will enjoy her 
love by a willing contract, not by a ravishment. The obstinate 
have nothing to do with God : the title of all converts is, a will- 
ing people. 

That Israel inclined to God, it was from God ; he inquires after 
his own gifts in us, for our capacity of more. They had not re- 
ceived the law, unless they had first received a disposition fit to be 
commanded. As there was an inclination to hear, so there must 
be a preparation for hearing. God's justice had before prepared 
his Israelites by hunger, thirst, fear of enemies ; his mercy had 
prepared them by deliverances, by provisions of water, meat, 
bread : and yet, besides all the sight of God in his miracles, they 
must be three days prepared to hear him. When our souls are 
at the best, our approach to God requires particular addresses; 
and if three days were little enough to prepare them to receive 
the law, how is all our life short enough to prepare for the 
reckoning of our observing it I And if the word of a command ex- 
pected such readiness, what shall the word of promise, the pro- 
mise of Christ and salvation I 

The murrain of Egypt was not so infectious as their vices ; the 
contagion of these stuck still by Israel : all the water of the Red 
sea, and of Marah, and that which gushed out of the rock, had 
not washed it off. From these they must now be sanctified. As 
sin is always dangerous, so most when we bring it into God's 
sight: it envenometh both our persons and services, and turns 

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cont. v. The law. 119 

our good into evil. As therefore we must be always holy, so 
most when we present ourselves to the holy eyes of our Creator. 
We wash our hands every day, but when we are to sit with some 
great person, we scour them with balls. And if we must be sanc- 
tified only to receive the law, how holy must we be to receive the 
grace promised in the gospel I 

Neither must themselves only be cleansed, but their very 
clothes; their garments smelt of Egypt, even they must be 
washed. Neither can clothes be capable of sin, nor can water 
cleanse from sin : the danger was neither in their garments nor 
their skin ; yet they must be washed, that they might learn by 
their clothes with what souls to appear before their God. Those 
garments must be washed which should never wax old, that now 
they might begin their age in purity ; as those which were in 
more danger of being foul than bare. It is fit that our reverence 
to God's presence should appear in our very garments; that 
both without and within we may be cleanly ; but little would 
neatness of vestures avail us with a filthy soul. The God of 
spirits looks to the inner man, and challenges the purity of that 
part which resembles himself ; Cleanse your hands, ye sinners ; 
and purge your hearts, ye double-minded. 

Yet even when they were washed and sanctified they may not 
touch the mount ; not only with their feet, but not with their 
eyes ; the smoke keeps it from their eyes, the marks from their 
feet. Not only men that had some impurity at their* best are 
restrained, but even beasts, which are not capable of any unholi- 
ness. Those beasts which must touch his altars, yet might not 
touch his hill ; and if a beast touch it, he must die ; yet so as no 
hands may touch that which hath touched the hill. Unreason- 
ableness might seem to be an excuse in these creatures; that 
therefore which is death to a beast must needs be capital to 
them whose reason should guide them to avoid presumption* 
Those Israelites which saw God every day in the pillar of fire 
and the cloud must not come near him in the mount. God loves 
at once familiarity and fear ; familiarity in our conversation, and 
fear in his commands. He loves to be acquainted with men in 
the walks of their obedience ; yet he takes state upon him in his 
ordinances, and will be trembled at in his word and judgments. 

I see the difference of God's carriage to men in the Law and 
in the Gospel : there, the very hill where he appeared may not be 
touched of the purest Israelite ; here, the hem of his garment is 

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120 The law. book v. 

touched by the woman that had the flux of blood, yea, his very 
face was touched with the lips of Judas : there, the very earth 
was prohibited them on which he descended ; here, his very body 
and blood is proffered to our touch and taste. O the marvellous 
kindness of our Ood ! How unthankful are we if we do not ac- 
knowledge this mercy above his ancient people ! They were his 
own ; yet strangers in comparison of our liberty. It is our shame 
and sin if in these means of entireness we be no better acquainted 
with God than they which in their greatest familiarity were com- 
manded aloof. 

God was ever wonderful in his works and fearful in his judg- 
ments ; but he was never so terrible in the execution of his will 
as now in the promulgation of it. Here was nothing but a ma- 
jestical terror in the eyes, in the ears of the Israelites ; as if God 
meant to show them by this how fearful he could be. Here was 
the lightning darted in their eyes, the thunders roaring in their 
ears, the trumpet of God drowning the thunderclaps, the voice 
of God outspeaking the trumpet of the angel: the cloud en- 
wrapping, the smoke ascending, the fire flaming, the mount 
trembling, Moses climbing and quaking, paleness and death in 
the face of Israel, uproar in the elements, and all the glory of 
heaven turned into terror. In the destruction of the first world 
there were clouds without fire ; in the destruction of Sodom there 
was fire raining without clouds ; but here was fire, smoke, clouds, 
thunder,* earthquakes, and whatsoever might work more asto- 
nishment than ever was in any vengeance inflicted. 

And if the law were thus given, how shall it be required ? If 
such were the proclamation of God's statutes, what shall the ses- 
sions be ? 1 see and tremble at the resemblance. The trumpet 
of the angel called unto the one ; the voice of an archangel, the 
trumpet of God, shall summon us to the other. To the one, 
Moses, that climbed up that hill, and alone saw it, says, God 
came with ten thousands of his saints ; in the other, thousand 
thousands shall minister to him, and ten thousand thousands 
shall stand before him. In the one, Mount Sinai only was on a 
flame ; all the world shall be so in the other. In the one, there 
was fire, smoke, thunder, and lightning; in the other, a fiery 
stream shall issue from him, wherewith the heavens shall be dis- 
solved, and the elements shall melt away with a noise. O God, 
how powerful art thou to inflict vengeance upon sinners, who 
didst thus forbid sin ! and if thou wert so terrible a Lawgiver, 

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cost. v. The law. 121 

what a Judge shalt thou appear! What shall become of the 
breakers of so fiery a law ? O where shall those appear that 
are guilty of the transgressing that law, whose very delivery was 
little less than death ? If our God should exact his law but in the 
same rigour wherein he gave it, sin could not quit the cost : but 
now the fire wherein it was delivered was but terrifying, the fire 
wherein it shall be required is consuming. Happy are those that 
are from under the terrors of that law which was given in fire, 
and in fire shall be required. 

God would have Israel see that they had not to do with some 
impotent commander, that is fain to publish his laws without 
noise in dead paper ; which can more easily enjoin than punish ; 
or descry than execute ; and therefore, before he gives them a 
law, he shows them that he can command heaven, earth, fire, air, 
in revenge of the breach of the law ; that they could not but 
think it deadly to displease such a Lawgiver, or violate such 
dreadful statutes: that they might see all the elements ex- 
amples of that obedience which they should yield unto their 

This fire wherein the law was given is still in it, and will 
never out: henco are those terrors which it flashes in every 
conscience that hath felt remorse of sin. Every man's heart is a 
Sinai, and resembles to him both heaven and hell. The sting of 
death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 

That they might see he could find out their closest sins, he de- 
livers his law in the light of fire from out of the smoke; that 
they might see what is due to their sins, they see fire above, to 
represent the fire that should be below them ; that they might 
know he could waken their security, the thunder and louder voice 
of God speaks to their hearts. That they might see what their 
hearts should do, the earth quakes under them. That they 
might see they could not shift their appearance, the angels call 
them together. O royal law and mighty Lawgiver ! How could 
they think of having any other God that had such proofs of this ? 
How could they think of making any resemblance of him whom 
they saw could not be seen, and whom they saw, in not being 
seen, infinite? How could they think of daring to profane his 
name whom they heard to name himself with that voice Jehovah? 
How could they think of standing with him for a day whom they 
saw to command that heaven which makes and measures day? 
How could they think of disobeying his deputies, whom they saw 

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122 The golden calf. book v. 

so able to revenge ? How could they think of killing, when they 
were half dead with the fear of him that could kill both body 
and soul ? How could they think of the flames of lust, that saw 
such fires of vengeance ? How could they think of stealing from 
others, that saw whose the heaven and earth was to dispose of 
at his pleasure ? How could they think of speaking falsely, that 
heard God speak in so fearful a tone? How could they think of 
coveting others' goods, that saw how weak and uncertain a right 
they had to theig own? Tea, to us was this law so delivered ; to 
us in them : neither had there been such state in the promulga- 
tion of it, if God had not intended it for eternity. We men, that 
so fear the breach of human laws for some small mulcts of for* 
feiture, how should we fear thee, O Lord, that canst cast body 
and soul into hell I 

THE GOLDEN CALF.— Exodus xxvii. 

It was not much above a month since Israel made their cove- 
nant with God ; since they trembled to hear him say, Thou shalt 
have no other gods but me; since they saw Moses part from 
them, and climb up the hill to God ; and now they say, Make us 
gods; we knew not what is become of this Moses. O ye mad 
Israelites, have ye so soon forgotten that fire and thunder which 
you heard and saw ! Is that smoke vanished out of your mind as 
soon as out of your sight? Could your hearts cease to tremble 
with the earth ? Can ye, in the very sight of Sinai, call for other 
gods ? And for Moses, was it not for your sakes that he thrust 
himself into the midst of that smoke and fire which ye feared to 
see afar off? Was he not now gone, after so many sudden embas- 
sages, to be your lieger with God ? If ye had seen him take 
his heels and run away from you into the wilderness, what could 
ye have said or done more ? Behold, our better Moses was with 
us a while upon earth, he is now ascended into the mount of 
heaven to mediate for us; shall we now think of another Sa- 
viour ? shall we not hold it our happiness that he is for our sakes 

And what if your Moses had been gone for ever ? Must ye 
therefore have gods made ? If ye had said, " Choose us another 
governor," it had been a wicked and unthankful motion ; ye were 
too unworthy of a Moses that could so soon forget him : but to 
say Make us gods was absurdly impious. Moses was not your 

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cont\ vi. The golden calf. 123 

God, but your governor: neither was the presence of God tied 
to Moses. You saw God still when he was gone, in his pillar and 
in his manna, and yet ye say, Make us gods. 

Every word is foil of senseless wickedness. How many gods 
would you have ? or what gods are those that can be made ? or, 
whatever the idolatrous Egyptians did, with what face can ye, 
after so many miraculous obligations, speak of another god? 
Had the voice of God scarce done thundering in your ears ? Did 
you so lately hear and see him to be an infinite God ? Did ye 
quake to hear him say out of the midst of the flames, I am Je- 
hovah thy God : thou shalt have no gods but me? Did ye ac- 
knowledge God your Maker, and do ye now speak of making of 
gods ? If ye had said, " Make us another man to go before us/ 1 
it had been an impossible suit. Aaron might help to mar you 
and himself; he could not make one hair of a man: and do ye 
say, Make us gods ? And what should those gods do ? Go before 
you. How could they go before you that cannot stand alone ? 
your help makes them to stand, and yet they must conduct you ! 

O the impatient ingratitude of carnal minds! O the sottish- 
ness of idolatry ! Who would not have said, " Moses is not with 
us, but he is with God for us ? He stays long : he that called 
him withholds him: his delay is for our sakes, as well as his 
ascent. Though we see him not, we will hope for him ; his fa- 
vours to us have deserved not to be rejected : or if God will keep 
him from us, he that withholds him can supply him; he that 
sent him can lead us without him ; his fire and cloud is all-suffi- 
cient ; God hath said and done enough for us to make us trust 
him ; we will, we can, have no other God ; we care not for any 
other guide." But behold here is none of this : Moses stays but 
some five-and-thirty days, and now he is forgotten, and is become 
but this Moses : yea, God is forgotten with him ; and, as if God 
and Moses had been lost at once, they say, Make us gods. Na- 
tural men must have God at their bent ; and if he come not at a 
call, he is cast off, and they take themselves to their own shifts : 
like as the Chinese whip their gods when they answer them not* ; 
whereas his holy ones wait long, and seek him ; and not only in 
their sinking, but from the bottom of the deeps, call upon him ; 
and though he kill them, will trust in him. 

Superstition besots the minds of men and blinds the eye of 
reason, and first makes them not men ere it makes them idolaters. 

* ["They have their idols in their houses with which they consult, sometimes 
praying and sometimes beating them," &c] Pwrchas'i Pilgrimage, B. iv. 19. 6. 

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124 The golden calf book v. 

How else could he that is the image of God fall down to the 
images of creatures? how could our forefathers have so doted 
upon stocks and stones if they had been themselves i As the 
Syrians were first blinded, and then led into the midst of Samaria, 
so are idolaters first bereaved of their wits and common sense, and 
afterwards are carried brutishly into all palpable impiety. 

Who would not have been ashamed to hear this answer from 
the brother of Moses, Pluck off four earrings ? He should have 
said, " Pluck this idolatrous thought out of your hearts :" and 
now, instead of chiding, he soothes them ; and, as if he had been 
no kin to Moses, he helps to lead them back again from Qod to , 
Egypt. The people importuned him, perhaps with threats. He 
that had waded through all the menaces of Pharaoh, doth he 
now shrink at the threats of his own ? Moses is not afraid of the 
terrors of Ood : his faith, that carried him through the water, led 
him up to the fire of God's presence ; while his brother Aaron 
fears the faces of those men which he lately saw pale with the 
fear of their glorious lawgiver. As if he that forbad other gods 
could not have maintained his own act and agent against men. 
Sudden fears, when they have possessed weak minds, lead them 
to shameful errors. Importunity or violence may lessen, but they 
cannot excuse a fault. Wherefore was he a governor, but to de- 
press their disordered motions ? Facility of yielding to a sin, or 
wooing it with our voluntary suit, is a higher stair of evil ; but 
even at last to be won to sin is damnable. It is good to resist 
any onset of sin, but one condesoent loses all the thanks of our 
opposition. What will it avail a man that others are plagued for 
soliciting him while he smarteth for yielding ? If both be in hell, 
what ease is it to him that another is deeper in the pit ? 

What now did Aaron ? Behold, he that alone was allowed to 
climb up the trembling and fiery hill of Sinai with Moses, and 
heard God say, Thou shalt not make to thyself amy graven image, 
for lam a jealous God, as if he meant particularly to prevent 
this act, within one month calls for their earrings, makes the 
graven image of a calf, erects an altar, consecrates a day to it, 
calls it their god, and weeps not to see them dance before it. It 
is a miserable thing when governors humour the people in their 
sins; and, instead of making up the breach, enlarge it. Sin will 
take heart by the approbation of the meanest looker on ; but if 
authority once second it, it grows impudent : as contrarily, where 
the public government opposes evil, (though it be underhand prac- 
tised, not without fear,) there is life in that state. 

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cont. vi. The golden calf. 125 

Aaron might have learned better counsel of his brother's ex- 
ample. When they came to him with stones in their hands, and 
said, Give us water, he ran as roundly to God with prayers in his 
mouth; so should Aaron hare done, when they said, dive us 
gods : but he weakly runs to their earrings, that which should be 
made their god ; not to the true God, which they had and forsook. 
Who can promise to himself freedom from gross infirmities, when 
he that went up into the mount comes down and doth that in the 
valley which he heard forbidden in the hill ? 

I see yet and wonder at the mercy of that God which had 
justly called himself jealous. This very Aaron, whose infirmity had 
yielded to so foul an idolatry, is after chosen by God to be a 
priest to himself: he that had set up an altar to the calf must serve 
at the altar of God : he that had melted and carved out the calf 
for a god must sacrifice calves and rams and bullocks unto the 
true God : he that consecrated a day to the idol is himself con- 
secrated to him which was dishonoured by the idol. The grossest 
of all sins cannot prejudice the calling of God ; yea, as the light 
is best seen in darkness, the mercy of God is most magnified in 
our unworthiness. 

What a difference God puts between persons and sins ! While 
so many thousand Israelites were slain that had stomachfully 
desired the idol ; Aaron, that in weakness condescended, is both 
pardoned the fact, and afterwards laden with honour from God. 
Let no man take heart to sin from mercy : he that can purpose 
to sin upon the knowledge of God's mercy in the remission of 
infirmities, presumes, and makes himself a wilful offender. It is 
no comfort to the wilful that there is remission to the weak and 

The earrings are plucked off: Egyptian jewels are fit for an 
idolatrous use. This very gold was contagious. It had been 
better the Israelites had never borrowed these ornaments, than 
that they should pay them back to the idolatry of their first 
owners. What cost the superstitious Israelites are content to be 
at for this lewd devotion 1 The riches and pride of their outward 
habit are they willing to part with to their molten god ; as glad 
to have their ears bare, that they might fill their eyes. No gold is 
too dear for their idol ; each man is content to spoil his wives and 
children of that whereof they spoiled the Egyptians. 

Where are those worldlings that cannot abide to be at any 
cost for their religion, which could be content to do God charge- 

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126 The golden calf. book v. 

less service ? These very Israelites, that were ready to give gold, 
not out of their purses, but from their very ears, to misdevotion, 
shall once condemn them. sacrilege succeeding to superstition ! 
of old they were ready to give gold to the false service of God ; 
we, to take away gold from the true : how do we see men prodigal 
to their lusts and ambitions, and we hate not to be niggards to 

This gold is now grown to a calf, let no man think that form 
came forth casually out of the melted earrings : this shape was 
intended by the Israelites, and perfected by Aaron : they brought 
this god in their hearts with them out of Egypt, and now they 
set it up in their eyes. Still doth Egypt hurt them : servitude 
was the least evil that Israel receives from Egypt ; for that sent 
them still to the true God, but this idolatrous example led them 
to a false. The very sight of evil is dangerous, and it is hard 
for the heart not to run into those sins to which the eye and 
ear is inured: not out of love, but custom, we fall into some 

The Israelites wrought so long in the furnaces of the Egyp- 
tians' brick, that they have brought forth a molten calf. The 
black calf with the white spots which they saw worshipped in 
Egypt hath stolen their hearts ; and they, which before would 
have been at the Egyptian flesh pots,- would now be at their 
devotions. How many have fallen into a fashion of swearing, 
scoffing, drinking, out of the usual practice of others ; as those 
that live in an ill air are infected with diseases ! A man may pass 
through Ethiopia unchanged, but he cannot dwell there and not 
be discoloured. 

Their sin was bad enough, let not our uncharitableness make 
it worse : no man may think they have so put off humanity and 
sense with their religion, as to think that calf a god ; or that this 
idol, which they saw yesterday made, did bring them out of Egypt 
three months ago. This were to make them more beasts than 
that calf which this image represented : or if they should have 
been so insensate, can we think that Aaron could be thus despe- 
rately mad ? The image and the holyday were both to one Deity : 
Tomorrow is the holyday of the Lord your Qod. It was the true 
God they meant to worship in the calf, and yet at best this idol- 
atry is shameful. It is no marvel if this foul sin seek pretences, 
yet no excuse can hide the shame of such a face. God's jealousy is 
not stirred only by the rivality of a false god, but of a false wor- 

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cont. vi. The golden calf. 127 

ship : nothing is more dangerous than to mint God's services in 
our own brain. 

God sends down Moses to remedy this sin ; he could as easily 
have prevented as redressed it. He knew, ere Moses came up, 
what Israel would do ere he came down : like as he knew the two 
tables would be broken ere he gave them. God most wisely per- 
mits and ordinates sin to his own ends without our excuse ; and 
though he could easily by his own hands remedy evils, yet he will 
do it by means both ordinary and subordinate. It is not for us 
to look for an immediate redress from God, when we have a 
Moses by whom it may be wrought : since God himself expects 
this from man, why should man expect it from God? 

Now might Moses hare found a time to have been even with 
Israel for all their unthankfulness and mutinous insurrections: 
Let me alone : I will consume them, and make thee a mighty 
nation. Moses should not need to solicit God for revenge ; God 
solicits him, in a sort, for leave to revenge. Who would look for 
such a word from God to man, Let me alone f As yet, Moses had 
said nothing ; before he opens his mouth, God prevents his im- 
portunity, as foreseeing that holy violence which the requests of 
Moses would offer to him. Moses stood trembling before the 
majesty of his Maker, and yet hears him say, Let me alone. The 
mercy of our God hath, as it were, obliged his power to the faith 
of men : the fervent prayers of the faithful hold the hands of the 
Almighty. As I find it said afterwards of Christ, that he could 
do no miracles there, because of their unbeKef; so now, I hear 
God, as if he could not do execution upon Israel because of Moses's 
faith, say, Let me alone, that I may consume them. 

We all naturally affect propriety b , and like our own so much 
better as it is freer from partners. Every one would be glad to 
say, with that proud one, / am, and there is none beside me : 
so much the more sweetly would this message have sounded to 
nature, / will consume them, and make of thee a mighty nation : 
how many endeavour that, not without danger of curses and up- 
roar, which was voluntarily tendered unto Moses ! Whence are 
our depopulations and inclosures, but for that men cannot abide 
either fellows or neighbours? but how graciously doth Moses 
strive with God against his own preferment! If God had 
threatened, " I will consume thee, and make of them a mighty 
nation ;" I doubt whether he could have been more moved. The 

b [property.] 

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128 The golden calf. book v. 

more a man can leave himself behind him, and aspire to a care 
of community, the more spiritual he is. Nothing makes a roan so 
good a patriot as religion. 

O the sweet disposition of Moses : fit for him that should be 
familiar with God ! He saw they could be content to be merry 
and happy without him ; he would not be happy without them. 
They had professed to have forgotten him ; he slacks not to sue 
for them. He that will* ever hope for good himself must return 
good for evil unto others. 

Tet was it not Israel so much that Moses respected as God in 
Israel. He was thrifty and jealous for his Maker ; and would 
not have him lose the glory of his mighty deliverances ; nor 
would abide a pretence for any Egyptian dog to bark against 
the powerful work of God ; Wherefore shall the Egyptians say ? 
If Israel could have perished without dishonour to. God, perhaps 
his hatred to their idolatry would have overcome his natural 
love, and he had let God alone : now so tender is he over the 
name of God that he would rather have Israel scape with a sin 
than God's glory should be blemished in the opinions of men by 
a just judgment. He saw that the eyes and tongues of all the 
world were intent upon Israel ; a people so miraculously fetched 
from Egypt, whom the sea gave way to, whom heaven fed, whom 
the rock watered, whom the fire and cloud guarded, which heard 
the audible voice of God. He knew withal how ready the world 
would be to misconstrue, and how the heathens would be ready 
to cast imputations of levity or impotence upon God; and there- 
fore says, What will the Egyptians say? Happy is that man 
which can make God's glory the scope of all his actions and de- 
sires ; neither cares for his own welfare, nor fears the miseries of 
others, but with respect to God in both. 

If God had not given Moses this care of his glory, he could not 
have had it ; and now his goodness takes it so kindly, as if him- 
self had received a favour from his creature ; and for a reward 
of the grace he had wrought, promises not to do that which he 

But what needs God to care for the speech of the Egyptians, 
men, infidels? And if they had been good, yet their censure 
should have been unjust. Shall God care for the tongues of 
men ? the holy God for the tongues of infidels ? The very Is- 
raelites, now they were from under the hands of Egypt, cared 
not for their words; and shall the God of heaven regard that 

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cont. vi. The golden calf. 129 

which is not worth the regard of men? Their tongues could 
not walk against God, but from himself; and if it could have 
been the worse for him, would he have permitted it? But, O 
God, how dainty art thou of thine honour, that thou canst not 
endure the worst of men should have any colour to taint it! 
What do we men stand upon our justice and innocence with neg- 
lect of all unjust censures ; when that infinite God, whom no cen- 
sures can reach, will not abide that the very Egyptians should 
falsely tax his power and mercy ? Wise men must care, not only 
to deserve well, but to hear well; and to wipe off, not only 
crimes, but censures. 

There was never so precious a monument as the tables written 
with God's own hand. If we see but the stone which Jacob's 
head rested on, or on which the foot of Christ did once tread, we 
look upon it with more than ordinary respect; with what eye 
should we have beheld this stone, which was hewed and written 
with the very finger of God ? Any manuscript scroll written by 
the hand of a famous man is laid up amongst our jewels ; what 
place then should we have given to the handwriting of the Al- 
mighty 1 That which he hath dictated to his servants the pro- 
phets challenges just honour from us; how doth that deserve 
veneration which his own hand wrote immediately I 

Prophecies and evangelical discourses he hath written by 
others ; never did he write any thing himself but these tables 
of the law : neither did he ever speak any thing audibly to whole 
mankind but it ; the hand, the stone, the law, were all his. By 
how much more precious this record was, by so much was the 
fault greater of defacing it. What king holds it less than rebel- 
lion to tear his writing and blemish his seal? At the first he 
engraved his image in the table of man's heart ; Adam blurred 
the image, but, through God's mercy, saved the tablet. Now he 
writes his will in the tables of stone ; Moses breaks the tables, 
and defaced the writing : if they had been given him for himself, 
the author, the matter had deserved, that as they were written 
in stone for permanency, so they should be kept for ever ; and 
as they were everlasting in use, so they should be in preservation. 
Had they been written in clay, they could but have been broken ; 
but now they were given for all Israel, for all mankind. He was 
but the messenger, not the owner. Howsoever therefore Israel 
had deserved, by breaking this covenant with God, to have this 
monument of God's covenant with them broken by the same hand 


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130 The golden calf. book v. 

that wrote it, yet bow durst Moses thus carelessly cast away the 
treasure of all the world, and by his hands undo that which was 
with such cost and care done by his Creator ? How durst he fail 
the trust of that God, whose pledge he received with awe and 
reverence ? He that expostulated with God, to have Israel live 
and prosper, why would he deface the rule of their life, in the 
keeping whereof they should prosper ? 

I see that forty days' talk with God cannot bereave a man of 
passionate infirmity : he that was the meekest upon earth, in a 
sudden indignation abandons that which in cold blood he would 
have held faster than his life : he forgets the law written when 
he saw it broken: his zeal for God hath transported him from 
himself and his duty to the charge of God : he more hates the 
golden calf, wherein he saw engraven the idolatry of Israel, than 
he honoured the tables of stone, wherein God had engraven his 
commandments ; and more longed to deface the idol, than he 
cared to preserve the tables. Tet that God, which so sharply 
revenged the breach of one law upon the Israelites, checks not 
Moses for breaking both the tables of the law. The law of God 
is spiritual ; the internal breach of one law is so heinous, that, 
in comparison of it, God scarce counts the breaking of the out- 
ward tables a breach of the law. The goodness of God winks at 
the errors of honest zeal, and so loves the strength of good affec- 
tions, that it passeth over their infirmities : how highly God doth 
esteem a well-governed zeal, when his mercy crowns it with all 
the faults ! 

The tables had not offended ; the calf had, and Israel in it. 
Moses takes revenge on both : he burns and stamps the calf to 
powder, and gives it Israel to drink ; that they might have it in 
their guts instead of their eyes : how he hasteth to destroy the 
idol, wherein they sinned ! that as an idol is nothing, so it might 
be brought to nothing; and atoms and dust is nearest to no- 
thing ; that instead of going before Israel, it might pass through 
them; so as the next day they might find their god in their 
excrements ; to the just shame of Israel, when they should see 
their new god cannot defend himself from being either nothing or 

Who can but wonder to see a multitude of so many hundred 
thousands, when Moses came running down the hill, to turn their 
eyes from their god to him ; and on a sudden, instead of wor- 
shipping their idol, to batter it in pieces, in the very height of 

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cont. vi. The golden calf . 131 

the novelty ; instead of building altars, and kindling fires to it, to 
kindle a hotter fire than that wherewith it was melted, to consume 
it ; instead of dancing before it, to abhor and deface it ; instead 
of singing, to weep before it ? 

There was never a more stiffnecked people ; yet I do not hear 
any one man of them say, " He is but one man, we are many ; 
how easily may we destroy him, rather than he our god ! If his 
brother durst not resist our motion in making it, why will we 
suffer him to dare resist the keeping of it ? It is our act, and 
we will maintain it." Here was none of this ; but an humble 
obeisance to the basest and bloodiest revenge that Moses shall 
impose. God hath set such an impression of majesty in the face 
of lawful authority, that wickedness is confounded in itself to 
behold it. If from hence visible powers were not more feared 
than the invisible God, the world would be overrun with outrage. 
Sin hath such a guiltiness in itself, that when it is seasonably 
checked, it pulls in his head, and seeks rather an hiding-place than 
a fort 

The idol is not capable of a further revenge : it is not enough 
unless the idolaters smart : the gold was good, if the Israelites 
had not been evil: so great a sin cannot be expiated without 
blood. Behold, that meek spirit, which in his plea with God 
would rather perish himself than Israel should perish, arms the 
Levites against their brethren, and rejoices to see thousands of 
the Israelites bleed, and blesses their executioners. 

It was the mercy of Moses that made him cruel : he had been 
cruel to all, if some had not found him cruel. They are merci- 
less hands which are not sometimes imbrued in blood : there is 
no less charity than justice in punishing sinners with death; 
God delights no less in a killing mercy than in a pitiful justice : 
some tender hearts would be ready- to censure the rigour of 
Moses. " Might not Israel have repented and lived 1 Or if they 
must die, must their brethren's hand be upon them ? or if their 
throats must be cut by their brethren, shall it be done in the 
very heat of their sin?" But they must learn a difference be- 
twixt pity and fondness, mercy and unjustice. Moses had an 
heart as soft as theirs, but more hot ; as pitiful, but wiser. He 
was a good physician, and saw that Israel could not live unless 
he bled; he therefore lets out this corrupt blood, to save the 
whole body. There cannot be a better sacrifice to God than the 
blood of malefactors; and this .first sacrifice so pleased God in 

K 2 

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132 The veil of Moses. book vi. 

the hands of the Levites, that he would have none but them 
sacrifice to him for ever. The blood of the idolatrous Israelites 
cleared that tribe from the blood of the innocent Shechemites. 





J. H. 


THE VEIL OF MOSES.— Exodus xxxiv. 

It is a wonder that neither Moses nor any Israelite gathered 
up the shivers of the former tables : every sherd of that stone, 
and every letter of that writing, had been a relic worth laying 
up; but he well saw how headlong the people were to super- 
stition, and how unsafe it were to feed that disposition in them. 
The same zeal that burnt the calf to ashes concealed the ruins of 
this monument. Holy things, besides their use, challenge no fur- 
ther respect. The breaking of the tables did as good as blot out 
all the writing; and the writing defaced left no virtue in the 
stone, no reverence to it. 

If God had not been friends with Israel, he had not renewed 
his law. As the Israelites were wilfully blind if they did not see 
God's anger in the tables broken ; so could they not but hold it a 
good sign of grace that God gave them his testimonies. 

» [Thomas Erskine, created earl of Kelly 1619. The rescue of the king 
here alluded to occurred on occasion of Gowry's conspiracy, 5th Aug. 1600. 
— Robertson's Hist, of Scotland, b. viii.] 

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cont. i. The veil of Moses. 188 

There was nothing wherein Israel outstripped all the rest of 
the world more than in this privilege ; the pledge of his covenant, 
the law written with God's own hand. O what a favour then is 
it where God bestows his gospel upon any nation ! That was but 
a killing letter, this is the power of God to salvation. Never is 
God throughly displeased with any people where that continues : 
for like as those which purposed love, when they fall off, call for 
their tokens back again ; so when God begins once perfectly to 
mislike, the first thing he withdraws is his gospel. 

Israel recovers this favour, but with an abatement : Hew thee 
two tables. God made the first tables : the matter, the form was 
his ; now Moses must hew the next : as God created the first man 
after his own image, but, that once defaced, Adam begat Cain 
after his own ; or as, the first temple rased, a second was built, 
yet so far short, that the Israelites wept at the sight of it. The 
first works of God are still the purest : those that he secondarily 
works by us decline in their perfection. It was reason, that 
though God had forgiven Israel, they should still find they had 
sinned. They might see the footsteps of displeasure in the dif- 
ferences of the agent. 

When God had told Moses before, / will not go before Israel, 
but my angel shall lead them, Moses so noted the difference, 
that he rested not till God himself undertook their conduct ; so 
might the Israelites have noted some remainders of offence, while, 
instead of that which his own hand did formerly make, he saith 
now, Hew thee ; and yet these second tables are kept reverently 
in the ark, when the other lay mouldered in shivers upon Sinai ; 
like as the repaired image of God in our regeneration is preserved, 
perfected, and laid up at last safe in heaven ; whereas the first 
image of our created innocence is quite defaced : so the second 
temple had the glory of Christ's exhibition, though meaner in 
frame. The merciful respects of God are not tied to glorious out- 
sides or the inward worthiness of things or persons : he hath ohosen 
the weak and simple to confound the wise and mighty. 

Tet God did this work by Moses; Moses hewed, and God 
wrote : our true Moses repairs that law of God which we in our 
nature had broken ; he revives it for us, and it is accepted of 
God, no less than if the first characters of his law had been still 
entire. We can give nothing but the table, it is God that must 
write in it. Our hearts are but a bare board, till God by his 

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134 The veil of Moses. book vi. 

finger engrave his law in them ; yea, Lord, we are a rough quarry, 
hew thou us out, and square us fit for thee to write upon. 

Well may we marvel to see Moses, after this oversight, admitted 
to this charge again : who of us would not have said, " Your care 
indeed deserves trust ; you did so carefully keep the first tables, 
that it would do well to trust you with such another burden I" It 
was good for Moses that he had to do with God, not with men : 
the God of mercy will not impute the slips of our infirmity to the 
prejudice of our faithfulness. He that after the misanswer of the 
one talent would not trust the evil servant with a second, because 
he saw a wilful neglect, will trust Moses with his second law, be- 
cause he saw fidelity in the worst error of his zeal. Our charity 
must learn, as to forgive, so to believe, where we have been deceived : 
not that we should wilfully beguile ourselves in an unjust credu- 
lity, but that we should search diligently into the disposition of 
persons, and grounds of their actions ; perhaps none may be so 
sure as they that have once disappointed us. Yea, Moses brake 
the first, therefore he must hew the second : if God had broken 
them he would have repaired them ; the amends must be where 
the fault was. Both God and his church look for a satisfaction in 
that wherein we have offended. 

It was not long since Moses's former fast of forty days. When 
he then came down from the hill, his first question was not for 
meat ; and now going up again to Sinai, he takes not any repast 
with him. That God which sent the quails to the host of Israel, 
and manna from heaven, could have fed him with dainties : he 
goes up confidently in a secure trust of God's provision. There 
is no life to that of faith ; man lives not by bread only. The 
vision of God did not only satiate, but feast him. What a blessed 
satiety shall there be, when we shall see him as he is, and he shall 
be all in all to us; since this very frail mortality of Moses 
was sustained and comforted but with representations of his 
presence ! 

I see Moses, the receiver of the law, Elias the restorer of the 
law, Christ the fulfiller of the old law and author of the new, all 
fasting forty days ; and these three great fasters I find together 
glorious in Mount Tabor. Abstinence merits not, for religion 
consists not in the belly, either full or empty : what are meats or 
drinks to the kingdom of God, which is, like himself, spiritual ? 
but it prepares best for good duties. Full bellies are fitter for 

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cont. i. The veil of Moses. 135 

rest : not the body so much as the soul is more active with empti- 
ness ; hence solemn prayer takes ever fasting to attend it, and so 
much the rather speeds in heaven when it is so accompanied. It 
is good so to diet the body that the soul may be fattened. 

When Moses came down before, his eyes sparkled with anger, 
and his face was both interchangeably pale and red with indig- 
nation ; now it is bright with glory. Before, there were the flames 
of fury in it, now the beams of majesty. Moses had before spoken 
with God, why did not his face shine before ? I cannot lay the 
cause upon the inward trouble of his passions, for this brightness 
was external. Whither shall we impute it but to his more entire- 
ness with God ? 

The more familiar acquaintance we have with God, the more 
do we partake of him. He that passes by the fire may have some 
gleams of heat, but he that stands by it hath his colour changed. 
It is not possible a man should have any long conference with 
God and be no whit affected. We are strangers from God, it is 
no wonder if our faces be earthly ; but he that sets himself apart 
to God shall find a kind of majesty and awful respect put upon 
him in the minds of others. 

How did the heart of Moses shine with illumination when his 
face was thus lightsome ! and if the flesh of Moses in this base 
composition so shined by conversing with God forty days in Sinai, 
what shall our glory be, when, clothed with incorruptible bodies, 
we shall converse with him for ever in the highest heaven I 

Now his face only shone, afterwards the three disciples saw all 
his body shining. The nature of a glorified body, the clearer 
vision, the immediate presence of that fountain of glory, challenge 
a far greater resplendence to our faces than his. O God, we are 
content that our faces be blemished a while with contempt, and 
blubbered with tears ; how can we but shine with Moses when we 
shall see thee more than Moses I 

The brightness of Moses's face reflected not upon his own eyes, 
he shone bright, and knew not of it : he saw God's face glorious, 
he did not think others had so seen his. How many have excel- 
lent graces and perceive them not I Our own sense is an ill judge 
of God's favours to us ; those that stand by can convince us in that 
which we deny to ourselves. Here below it is enough if we can 
shine in the eyes of others ; above, we shall shine and know it. 
At this instant Moses sees himself shine : then he needed not. 
God meant not that he should more esteem himself, but that he 

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136 The veil of Moses. book vi. 

should be more honoured of the Israelites : that other glory shall 
be for our own happiness, and therefore requires our knowledge. 

They that did but stand still to see anger in his face, ran away 
to see glory in it : before, they had desired that God would not 
speak to them any more but by Moses ; and now that God doth 
but look upon them in Moses, they are afraid ; and yet there was 
not more difference betwixt the voices than the faces of God and 
Moses. This should have drawn Israel to Moses so much the 
more, to have seen this impression of divinity in his face. 

That which should have comforted, affrights them ; yea, Aaron 
himself, that before went up into the mount to see and speak with 
God, now is afraid to see him that had seen God : such a fear 
there is in guiltiness, such confidence in innocency. When the 
soul is once cleared from sin, it shall run to that glory with joy, 
the least glimpse whereof now appals it and sends it away in 
terror. How could the Israelites now choose but think ; " How 
shall we abide to look God in the face since our eyes are dazzled 
with the face of Moses?" And well may we still argue, " If the 
image of God, which he hath set in the fleshy forehead of author- 
ity, daunt us, how shall we stand before the dreadful tribunal of 
heaven ?" 

Moses marvels to see Israel run away from their guide as from 
their enemy ; and looks back to see if he could discern any new 
cause of fear ; and not conceiving how his mild face could affray 
them, calls them to stay and retire. 

" my people, whom do ye flee ? it is for your sakes that I 
ascended, staid, came down : behold, here are no armed Levites 
to strike you, no Amalekites, no Egyptians to pursue you, no fires 
and thunders to dismay you. I have not that rod of God in my 
hand which you have seen to command the elements ; or if I had, 
so far am I from purposing any rigour against you, that I now 
lately have appeased God towards you; and lo here the pledges 
of his reconciliation. God sends me to you for good, and do you 
run from your best friend ? Whither will ye go from me or with- 
out me ? Stay, and hear the charge of that God from whom ye 
cannot flee." 

They perceive his voice the same, though his face were changed, 
and are persuaded to stay, and return and hear him whom they 
dare not see ; and now, after many doubtful paces approaching 
nearer, dare tell him he was grown too glorious. 

Good Moses, finding that they durst not look upon the sun of 

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cont. i. The veil of Moses. 187 

his face, clouds it with a veil ; choosing rather to hide the work of 
God in him, than to want opportunity of revealing God's will to 
his people. I do not hear him stand upon terms of reputation : 
" If there be glory in my face, God put it there ; he would not 
have placed it so conspicuously if he had meant it should be hid : 
hide ye your faces rather, which are blemished with your sin ; 
and look not that I should wrong God and myself to seem less 
happy in favour of your weakness." But without all self re- 
spects he modestly hides his glorified face, and cares not their 
eyes should pierce so far as to his skin, on condition that his 
words may pierce into their ears. It is good for a man some- 
times to hide his graces: some talents are best improved by 
being laid up : Moses had more glory by his veil than by his 
face. Christian modesty teaches a wise man not to expose him- 
self to the fairest show, and to live at the utmost pitch of his 

There is many a rich stone laid up in the bowels of the earth, 
many a fair pearl laid up in the bosom of the sea, that never was 
seen nor never shall be. There is many a goodly star which, 
because of height, comes not within our account. How did our 
true Moses, with the veil of his flesh, hide the glory of his Deity ; 
and put on vileness, besides the laying aside of majesty; and shut 
up his great and divine miracles with, See you tell no man! 
How far are those spirits from this, which care only to be seen ; 
and wish only to dazzle others' eyes with admiration, not caring 
for unknown riches ! But those yet more which desire to seem 
above themselves, whether in parts or graces, whose veil is fairer 
than their skin. Modest faces shall shine through their veils 
when the vainglorious shall bewray their shame through their 

That God which gave his law in smoke delivered it again 
through the veil of Moses. Israel could not look to the end of 
that which should be abolished ; for the same cause had God a 
veil upon his own face which hid his presence in the holy of holies. 
Now as the veil of God did rend when he said, It is finished ; so 
the veil of Moses was then pulled off : we clearly see Christ the 
end of the law ; our Joshua that succeeded Moses speaks to us 
barefaced : what a shame is it there should be a veil upon our 
hearts when there is none on his face I 

When Moses went to speak with God he pulled off his veil : it 
was good reason he should present to God that face which he 

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138 Nadab and Abihu. book vi. 

had made. There had been more need of his veil to hide the 
glorious face of God from him, than to hide his from God ; but 
his faith and thankfulness serve for both these uses. Hypocrites 
are contrary to Moses : he showed his worst to men, his best to 
God ; they show their best to men, their worst to God : but God 
sees both their veil and their face ; and I know not whether he 
more hates their veil of dissimulation or their face of wickedness. 

NADAB AND ABIHU.— Leviticus x. 

That God, which showed himself to men in fire when he deli- 
vered his law, would have men present their sacrifices to him in 
fire : and this fire he would have his own, that there might be a 
just circulation in this creature ; as the water sends up those 
vapours which it receives down again in rain. Hereupon it was 
that fire came down from God unto the altar ; that, as the charge 
of the sacrifice was delivered in fire and smoke, so God might 
signify the acceptation of it in the like fashion wherein it was 
commanded. The Baalites might lay ready their bullock upon 
the wood, and water in their trench ; but they might sooner fetch 
the blood out of their bodies and destroy themselves, than one flash 
out of heaven to consume the sacrifice. 

That devil which can fetch down fire from heaven, either mali- 
ciously or to no purpose ; (although he abound with fire ; and did 
as fervently desire this fire in emulation to God as ever he de- 
sired mitigation of his own ;) yet now he could no more kindle a 
fire for the idolatrous sacrifice than quench the flames of his own 
torment. Herein God approves himself only worthy to be sacri- 
ficed unto, that he creates the fire for his own service ; whereas 
the impotent idols of the heathen must fetch fire from their 
neighbour's kitchen, and themselves are fit matter for their bor- 
rowed fire. 

The Israelites, that were led too much with sense, if they had 
seen the bullock consumed with a fire fetched from a common 
hearth, could never have acknowledged what relation the sacrifice 
had to God, had never perceived that God took notice of the 
sacrifice ; but now they see the fire coming out from the presence 
of God, they are convinced both of the power and acceptation of 
the Almighty. They are at once amazed and satisfied to see the 
same God answer by fire, which before had spoken by fire : God 

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cont. ii. Nodal and Abihu. 139 

doth not less approve our evangelical sacrifices than theirs under 
the law ; but as our sacrifices are spiritual, so are the signs of his 
acceptation : faith is our guide, as sense was theirs. Tea, even still 
doth God testify his approbation by sensible evidences : when by a 
lively faith and fervent zeal our hearts are consecrated to God, 
then doth his heavenly fire come down upon our sacrifices ; then 
are they holy, living, acceptable. 

This flame that God kindled was not as some momentary bon- 
fire, for a sudden and short triumph ; nor as a domestical fire, to go 
out with a day ; but is given for a perpetuity, and neither must 
die nor be quenched. God, as he is himself eternal, so he loves 
permanency and constancy of grace in us : if we be but a flash and 
away, God regards us not ; all promises are to perseverance. Sure 
it is but an elementary fire that goes out ; that which is celestial 
continues : it was but some presumptuous heat in us that decays 
upon every occasion. 

But he that miraculously sent down this fire at first will not 
renew the miracle every day by a like supply : it began imme- 
diately from God, it must be nourished by means. Fuel must 
maintain that fire which came from heaven : God will not work 
miracles every day : if he have kindled his Spirit in us, we may 
not expect he shall every day begin again ; we have the fuel of 
the word and sacraments, prayers, and meditations, which must 
keep it in for ever. It is from God that these helps can nourish 
his graces in us ; like as every flame of our material fire hath a 
concourse of providence, but we may not expect new infusions : 
rather know, that God expects of us an improvement of those 
habitual graces we have received. 

While the people with fear and joy see God lighting his own 
fire, fire from heaven, the two sons of Aaron, in a careless pre- 
sumption, will be serving him with a common flame ; as if he 
might not have leave to choose the forms of his own worship ! If 
this had been done some ages after, when the memory of the 
original of this heavenly fire had been worn out, it might have 
been excused with ignorance ; but now, when God had newly sent 
his fire from above, newly commanded the continuance of it, either 
to let it go out, or, while it still flamed, to fetch profane coals to 
God's altar, could savour of no less than presumption and sacri- 
lege. When we bring zeal without knowledge, misconceits of 
faith, carnal affections, the devices of our will-worship, superstitious 
devotions, into God's service, we bring common fire to his altar : 

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140 Nadab and Abihu. book vi. 

these flames were never of his kindling ; he hates both altar, fire, 
priest, and sacrifice. 

And now, behold, the same fire which consumed the sacrifice be- 
fore, consumes the sacrificers. It was the sign of his acceptation 
in consuming the beast ; but, while it destroyed men, the fearful 
sign of his displeasure. By the same means can God bewray 
both love and hatred. We would have pleaded for Nadab and 
Abihu ; " They are but young men, the sons of Aaron, not yet 
warm in their function ; let both age, and blood, and inexperience 
excuse them as yet." No pretences, no privileges, can bear off a 
sin with God : men think either to patronise or mitigate evils by 
their feigned reasons. That no man may hopo the plea either of 
birth or of youth, or of the first commission of evil, may challenge 
pardon, I see here young men, sons of the ruler of Israel, for the 
first offence struck dead. 

Yea, this made God the more to stomach and the rather to re- 
venge this impiety, because the sons of Aaron did it. God had 
both pardoned and graced their father ; he had honoured them ; 
of the thousands of Israel, culling them out for his altar : and now, 
as their father set up a false god, so they bring false fire unto the 
true God. 

If the sons of infidels live godlessly, they do their kind : their 
punishment shall be, though just, yet less ; but if the children of 
religious parents, after all Christian nurture, shall shame their 
education, God takes it more heinously, and revenges it more 
sharply. The more bonds of duty, the more plagues of neglect. 

If from the agents we look to the act itself, set aside the 
original descent, and what difference was there betwixt these 
fires ? Both looked alike, heated alike, ascended alike, consumed 
alike ; both were fed with the same material wood, both vanished 
into smoke : there was no difference but in the commandment of 

If God had enjoined ordinary fire, they had sinned to look for 
celestial ; now he commanded only the fire which he sent, they 
sinned in sending up incense in that fire which he commanded not. 
It is a dangerous thing in the service of God to decline from his 
own institutions : we have to do with a power which is wise to 
prescribe his own worship, just to require what he hath prescribed, 
powerful to revenge that which he hath not required. 

If God had struck them with some leprosy in their forehead, 
as he did their aunt Miriam soon after, or with some palsy or 

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cont. ii. Nadab and Abihu. 141 

lingering consumption, the punishment had been grievous; but 
he, whose judgments are ever just, sometimes secret, saw fire the 
fittest revenge for a sin of fire; his own fire fittest to punish 
strange fire ; a sudden judgment fit for a present and exemplary 
sin : he saw that if he had winked at this, his service had been 
exposed to profanation. 

It is wisdom in governors to take sin at the first bound ; and 
so to revenge it, that their punishments may be preventions. 
Speed of death is not always a judgment: suddenness, as it is 
ever justly suspicable, so then certainly argues anger, when it 
finds us in an act of sin. Leisure of repentance is an argument 
of favour ; when God gives a man law, it implies that he would 
not have judgment surprise him. 

Doubtless, Aaron looked somewhat heavily on this sad spec- 
tacle. It could not but appal him to see his two sons dead 
before him, dead in displeasure, dead suddenly, dead by the 
immediate hand of God. And now he could repent him of his 
new honour, to see it succeed so ill with the sons of his loins ; 
neither could he choose but see himself stricken in them. But 
his brother Moses, that had learned not to know either nephews 
or brother when they stood in his way to God, wisely turned 
his eyes from the dead carcasses of his sons to his respect of the 
living God: "My brother, this event is fearful, but just; these 
were thy sons, but they sinned; it was not for God, it is not 
for thee, to look so much who they were, as what they did. It 
was their honour and thine that they were chosen to minister 
before the Lord : he that called them, justly required their sanc- 
tification and obedience. If they have profaned God and them- 
selves, can thy natural affection so miscarry thee, that thou 
couldst wish their impunity with the blemish of thy Maker? 
Our sons are not ours if they disobey our Father : to pity their 
misery is to partake of their sin ; if thou grudge at their judg- 
ment, take heed lest the S2*me fire of God come forth upon this 
strange fire of nature. Show now whether thou more lovest 
God or thy sons: show whether thou be a better father or a 

Aaroo, weighing these things, holds his peace, not out of an 
amazement or sullenness, but out of patient and humble sub- 
mission ; and seeing God's pleasure and their desert, is content 
to forget that he had sons. He might have had a silent tongue 
and a clamorous heart. There is no voice louder in the ears of 

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142 Nadab and Abihu. book vi- 

God than a speechless repining of the soul. Heat is more in- 
tended with keeping in ; but Aaron's silence was no less inward : 
he knew how little he should get by brawling with God. If he 
breathed out discontentment, he saw God could speak fire to him 
again ; and therefore he quietly submits to the will of God, and 
held his peace, because the Lord had done it. There is no 
greater proof of grace than to smart patiently, and humbly and 
contentedly to rest the heart in the justice and wisdom of God's 
proceeding, and to be so far from chiding that we dispute not. 
Nature is froward; and though she well knows we meddle not 
with our match when we strive with our Maker, yet she pricks 
us forward to this idle quarrel, and bids us, with Job's wife, 
curse and die. If God either chide or smite, (as servants are 
charged to their masters,) we may not answer again : when God's 
hand is on our back, our hand must be on our mouth ; else, as 
mothers do their children, God shall whip us so much the more 
for crying. 

It is hard for a stander-by in this case to distinguish betwixt 
hardhearted ness and piety. There Aaron sees his sons lie : he 
may neither put his hand to them to bury them, nor shed a tear 
for their death. Never parent can have juster cause of mourn- 
ing than to see his sons dead in their sin ; if prepared and peni- 
tent, yet who can but sorrow for their end ? But to part with 
children to the danger of a second death is worthy of more than 
tears. Yet Aaron must learn so far to deny nature, that he 
must more magnify the justice of God than lament the judgment. 
Those whom God hath called to his immediate service must know 
that he will not allow them the common passions and cares of 
others. Nothing is more natural than sorrow for the death of 
our own : if ever grief be seasonable, it becomes a funeral. And 
if Nadab and Abihu had died in their beds this favour had been 
allowed them, the sorrow of their father and brethren ; for when 
God forbids solemn mourning to his priests over the dead, he ex- 
cepts the cases of this nearness of blood. Now all Israel may mourn 
for these two, only the father and brethren may not. God is 
jealous lest their sorrow should seem to countenance the sin 
which he had punished : even the fearfullest acts of God must 
be applauded by the heaviest hearts of the faithful. 

That which the father and brother may not do, the cousins are 
commanded ; dead carcasses are not for the presence of God ; his 
justice was shown sufficiently in killing them : they are now fit 

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cont. in. Of Aaron and Miriam. 148 

for the grave, not the sanctuary : neither are they carried out 
naked, but in their coats. It was an unusual sight for Israel to 
see a linen ephod upon the bier ; the judgment was so much the 
more remarkable, because they had the badge of their calling 
upon their backs. 

Nothing is either more pleasing unto God, or more commo- 
dious to men, than that when he hath executed judgment, it 
should be seen and wondered at; for therefore he strikes some, 
that he may warn all. 

OF AARON AND MIRIAM.— Numbers xii. 

The Israelites are stayed seven days in the station of Haze- 
roth for the punishment of Miriam. The sins of the governors 
are a just stop to the people ; all of them smart in one ; all must 
stay the leisure of Miriam's recovery. Whosoever seeks the 
land of promise shall find many lets : Amalek, Og, Sehon, and 
the kings of Canaan meet with Israel : these resisted, but hin- 
dered not their passage ; their sins only stay them from remov- 
ing. Afflictions are not crosses to us in the way to heaven in 
comparison to our sins. 

What is this I see ? Is not this Aaron, that was brother in 
nature, and by office joint commissioner with Moses ? Is not this 
Aaron, that made his brother an intercessor for him to God in 
the case of his idolatry ? Is not this Aaron, that climbed up the 
hill of Sinai with Moses? Is not this Aaron, whom the mouth 
and hand of Moses consecrated an high priest unto God ? Is not 
this Miriam, the elder sister of Moses ? Is not this Miriam, that 
jed the triumph of the women, and sung gloriously to the Lord ? 
Is not this Miriam, which laid her brother Moses in the reeds, 
and fetched her mother to be his nurse ? Both prophets of God ; 
both the flesh and blood of Moses : and doth this Aaron repine 
at the honour of him which gave himself that honour, and saved 
his life ? Doth this Miriam repine at the prosperity of him whose 
life she saved ? Who would not have thought this should have 
been their glory, to have seen the glory of their own brother ? 
What could have been a greater comfort to Miriam than to 
think, "How happily doth he now sit at the stern of Israel, 
whom I saved from perishing in a boat of bulrushes ! It is to me 
that Israel owes this commander?" but now envy hath so blinded 

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144 Of Aaron and Miriam. book vi. 

their eyes, that they can neither see this privilege of nature, nor 
the honour of God's choice. 

Miriam and Aaron are in mutiny against Moses. Who is so 
holy that sins not ? What sin is so unnatural that the best can 
avoid without God? But what weakness soever may plead for 
Miriam, who can but grieve to see Aaron at the end of so many 
sins? Of late 1 saw him carving the molten image, and conse- 
crating an altar to a false god ; now I see him seconding an un- 
kind mutiny against his brother : both sins find him accessary ; 
neither principal. 

It was not in the power of the legal priesthood to perform or 
promise innocency to her ministers : it was necessary we should 
have another High Priest, which could not be tainted. That 
King of Righteousness was of another order ; he, being without 
sin, hath fully satisfied for the sins of men. Whom can it now 
offend to see the blemishes of the evangelical priesthood, when 
God's first high priest is thus miscarried ? 

Who can look for love and prosperity at once, when holy and 
meek Moses finds enmity in his own flesh and blood? Rather 
than we shall want, a man's enemies shall be those of his own 
house. Authority cannot fail of opposition, if it be never so 
mildly swayed : that common makebate will rather raise it out of 
our own bosom. To do well and hear ill is princely. 

The Midianitish wife of Moses cost him dear. Before, she 
hazarded his life; now, the favour of his people: unequal 
matches are seldom prosperous. Although now this scandal was 
only taken, envy was not wise enough to choose a ground of the 
quarrel. Whether some secret and emulatory brawls passed be- 
tween Zipporah and Miriam, as many times these sparks of pri- 
vate brawls grow into a perilous and common flame, or whether, 
now that Jethro and his family were joined with Israel, there 
were surmises of transporting the government to strangers ; or 
whether this unfit choice of Moses is now raised up to disparage 
God's gifts in him ; even in sight the exceptions were frivolous : 
emulation is curious, and out of the best person or act will raise 
something to cavil at. 

Seditions do not ever look the same way they move : wise men 
can easily distinguish betwixt the visor of actions and the face. 
The wife of Moses is mentioned; his superiority is shot at. 
Pride is lightly the ground of all sedition. Which of their faces 
shined like Moses' ? Yea, let him but have drawn his veil, which 

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cont. in. Of Aaron and Miriam. 145 

of them durst look on his face ? Which of them had fasted twice 
forty days ? Which of them ascended up to the top of Sinai, and 
was hid with smoke and fire ? Which of them received the law 
twice in two several tables from God's own hand ? And yet they 
<lare say, Hath God spoken only by Moses ? They do not deny 
Moses's honour, but they challenge a part with him ; and as they 
were the elder in nature, so they would be equal in dignity, equal 
in administration. According to her name, Miriam would be ex- 
alted. And yet how unfit were they 1 One, a woman, whom her 
sex debarred from rule ; the other, a priest, whom his office se- 
questered from earthly government. Self-love makes men un- 
reasonable, and teaches them to turn the glass to see themselves 
bigger, others less than they are. It is an hard thing for a man 
willingly and gladly to see his equals lifted over his head in worth 
and opinion. Nothing will more try a man's grace than questions 
of emulation. That man hath true light which can be content to 
he a candle before the sun of others. 

As no wrongs can escape God, so least of all those which are 
offered to princes : he that made the ear needs no intelligence 
of our tongues. We have to do with a God that is light of 
hearing : we cannot whisper any evil so secretly that he should 
not cry out of noise : and what need we any further evidence 
when our Judge is our witness ? 

Without any delation of Moses, God hears and challenges them. 
Because he was meek, therefore he complained not : because he 
was meek and complained not, therefore the Lord struck in for 
him the more. The less a man strives for himself, the more is 
God his champion. It is the honour of great persons to undertake 
•the patronage of their clients : how much more will God revenge 
his elect which cry to him day and night 1 He that said, / seek 
not mine own glory, adds, but there is one that seeks it, and 
judges. God takes his part ever that fights not for himself. 

No man could have given more proofs of his courage than 
Moses. He slew the Egyptian ; he confronted Pharaoh in his own 
court ; he beat the Midianite shepherds ; he feared not the troops 
of Egypt ; he durst look God in the face amidst all the terrors of 
Sinai ; and yet that Spirit, which made and knew his heart, says, 
He was the mildest man upon earth. Mildness and fortitude 
may well lodge together in one breast ; to correct the misconceits 
of those men that think none valiant but those that are fierce and 


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146 Of Aaron and Miriam. book vi. 

No sooner is the word out of Miriam's mouth, than the word 
of God's reproof meets it : how he bestirs him, and will be at once 
seen and heard when the name of Moses is in question ! Moses 
was zealously careful for God's glory, and now God is zealous for 
his. The remunerations of the Almighty are infinitely gracious. 
He cannot want honour and patronage that seeks the honour of 
his Maker. The ready way to true glory is goodness. 

God might have spoken so loud that heaven and earth should 
have heard it, so as they should not have needed to come forth 
for audience ; but now he calls them out to the bar, that they 
may be seen to hear. It did not content him to chide them 
within doors : the shame of their fault had been less in a private 
rebuke, but the scandal of their repining was public. Where the 
sin is not afraid of the light, God loves not the reproof should be 

They had depressed Moses, God advances him; they had 
equalled themselves to Moses, God prefers him to them. Their 
plea was, that God had spoken by them as well as by Moses ; 
God's reply is, that he hath in a more entire fashion spoken to 
Moses than them. God spake to the best of them, but either 
in their dream, sleeping ; or in vision, waking : but to Moses he 
spake with more inward illumination, with more lively repre- 
sentation : to others, as a stranger ; to Moses, as a friend. God 
had never so much magnified Moses to them but for their envy. 
We cannot devise to pleasure God's servants so much as by de- 
spiting them. 

God was angry when he chode them, but more angry when 
he departed. The withdrawing of his presence is the presence 
of his wrath. While he stays to reprove, there is favour in his 
displeasure ; but when he leaves either man or church, there is 
no hope but of vengeance. The final absence of God is hell 
itself. When he forsakes us, though for a time, it is an intro- 
duction to his utmost judgment. 

It was time to look for a judgment when God departed : so 
soon as he is gone from the eyes of Miriam the leprosy appears 
in her face ; her foul tongue is punished with a foul face. Since 
she would acknowledge no difference betwixt herself and her 
brother Moses, every Israelite now sees his face glorious, hers 
leprous. Deformity is a fit cure of pride. Because the venom 
of her tongue would have eaten into the reputation of her brother, 
therefore a poisonous infection eats into her flesh. Now both 

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cont. in. Of Aaron and Miriam. 147 

Moses and Miriam need to wear a veil ; the one to hide his glory, 
the other her deformity. That Midianite, Zipporah, whom she 
scorned, was beautiful in respect of her. 

Miriam was stricken, Aaron escaped, both sinned ; his priest- 
hood could not rescue him, the greatness of his dignity did but 
add to the heinousness of his sin ; his repentance freed him : 
Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not this sin upon us, which we 
have foolishly committed. I wonder not to see Aaron free while 
I see him penitent; this very confession saved him before from 
bleeding for idolatry, which now preserves him from leprosy for 
his envious repining. The universal antidote for all the judgments 
of God is our humble repentance. 

Tea, his sad deprecation prevailed both to clear himself and 
recover Miriam : the brother sues for himself and his sister, to 
that brother whom they both emulated, for pardon from himself, 
and that God which was offended in him. Where now is that 
equality which was pretended? Behold, he that so lately made 
his brother his fellow, now makes him his god : Lay not this sin 
upon us; let her not be as one dead : as if Moses had imposed 
this plague, and could remove it Never any opposed the servants 
of God, but one time or other they have been constrained to con- 
fess a superiority. 

Miriam would have wounded Moses with her tongue, Moses 
would heal her with his ; Lord, heal her now : the wrong is the 
greater, because his sister did it. He doth not say, " I sought 
not her shame, she sought mine ; if God have revenged it, I have 
no reason to look on her as a sister who looked at me as an ad- 
versary :" but, as if her leprosy were his, he cries out for her 
cure. O admirable meekness of Moses ! His people the Jews re- 
belled against him, God proffers revenge ; he would rather die 
than they should perish : his sister rebels against him, God works 
his revenge; he will not give God peace till she be recur ed. 
Behold a worthy and noble pattern for us to follow. How far are 
they from this disposition who are not only content God should 
revenge, but are ready to prevent God's revenge with their own ! 

God's love to Moses suffers him not to obtain presently his suit 
for Miriam : his good nature to his sister made him pray against 
himself. If the judgment had been at once inflicted and removed, 
there had been no example of terror for others : God either de- 
nies or defers the grant of .our requests for our good: it were 
wide for us if our suits should be ever heard. It was fit for all 

L 2 

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148 The searchers of Canaan. book vi. 

parts Miriam should continue some while leprous. There is no 
policy in a sudden removal of just punishment : unless the rain so 
fall that it lie and soak into the earth, it profits nothing. If the 
judgments of Qod should be only as passengers, and not sojourners 
at least, they would be no whit regarded. 


I can but wonder at the counsel of God. If the Israelites had 
gone on to Canaan without inquiry, their confidence had possessed 
it ; now they send to espy the land, six hundred thousand of them 
never lived to see it : and yet I see God enjoining them to send, 
but enjoining it upon their instance. Some things God allows in 
judgment ; their importunity and distrust extorted from God this 
occasion of their overthrow. That which the Lord moves unto, 
prospers ; but that which we move him to first, seldom succeedeth. 
What needed they doubt of the goodness of that land which God 
told them did flow with milk and honey ? What needed they doubt 
of obtaining that which God promised to give ? When we will send 
forth our senses to be our scouts in the matters of faith, and rather 
dare trust men than God, we are worthy to be deceived. 

The basest sort of men are commonly held fit enough for intel- 
ligencers ; but Moses, to make sure work, chooseth forth the best of 
Israel, such as were like to be most judicious in their inquiry, and 
most credible in their report. Those that ruled Israel at home 
could best descry for them abroad : what should direct the body 
but the head ? Men can judge but by appearance : it is for Him 
only that sees the event, ere he appoint the means, not to be de- 
ceived. It had been better for Israel to have sent the offal of the 
multitude : by how less the credit of their persons is, by so much 
less is the danger of seducement. The error of the mighty is 
armed with authority, and in a sort commands assent : whether in 
good or evil, greatness hath ever a train to follow it at the heels. 

Forty days they spent in this search, and this cowardly un- 
belief in the search shall cost them forty years' delay of the 
fruition. Who can abide to see the rulers of Israel so basely 
timorous? They commend the land, the fruit commends itself, 
and yet they plead difficulty : We be not able to go up. Their 
shoulders are laden with the grapes, and yet their hearts are 
overlaid with unbelief: it is an unworthy thing to plead hardness 

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cont. iv. The searchers of Canaan. 149 

of achieving where the benefit will more than requite the en- 
deavour. Our land of promise is above ; we know the fruit thereof 
is sweet and glorious, the passage difficult. The giantly sons of 
Anak (the powers of darkness) stand in our way : if we sit down and 
complain, we shall once know that without shall be the fearful. 

See the idle pleas of distrust ; We are not able : they are stronger. 
Could not God enable them? Was he not stronger than their 
giants? Had he not promised to displace the Canaanites, to 
settle them in their stead ? How much more easy is it for us to 
spy their weakness, than for them to espy the strength of their 
adversaries ? When we measure our spiritual success by our own 
power, we are vanquished before we fight. He that would over- 
come, must neither look upon his own arm nor upon the arm of 
his enemy, but the mouth and hand of Him that hath promised 
and can perform. Who are we, flesh and blood, with our breath 
in our nostrils, that we should fight with principalities, powers, 
spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places? The match is too 
unequal : we are not a like grasshoppers to these giants ; when we 
compare ourselves with them, how can we but despair ? when we 
compare them with God, how can we be discouraged ? He that 
hath brought us into this field hath promised us victory. God 
knew their strength ere he offered to commit us. 

Well might they have thought, "Were not the Amalekites 
stronger than we ? Were not they armed, we naked ? Did not 
4he only hand of Moses, by lifting up, beat them down? Were 
not the Egyptians no less our masters? Did not death come 
running after us in their chariots ? Did we not leave these buried 
in the sea, the other unburied in the wilderness ? Whence had 
the Anakims their strength, but from him that bids us go up 
against them ? Why have the bodies of our forefathers taken pos- 
session of their Hebron but for us?" But now their fear hath not 
left them so much reason as to compare their adversaries with 
others, but only with themselves: doubtless these giants were 
•mighty, but their fear hath stretched them out some cubits beyond 
their stature. Distrust makes our dangers greater, and our helps 
less than they are, and forecasts ever worse than shall be, and if 
evils be possible it makes them certain. 

Amongst those twelve messengers whom our second Moses sent 
through the land of promise, there was but one Judas ; but amongst 

a [All the editions which I have seen prior to those of thiB century give the 
word " not" : perhaps the sense may be " not even".] 

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ISO The searchers of Canaan. hook vi. 

those twelve which the former Moses addressed through the same 
land, there is but one Caleb ; and yet those were chosen out of 
the meanest, these out of the heads of Israel. As there is no 
society free from some corruption, so it is hard if, in a community 
of men, there be not some faithfulness. 

We shall wrong God if we fear lest good causes shall be quite 
forsaken: he knows how to serve himself of the best, if the 
fewest ; and could as easily be attended with a multitude, if he 
did not seek his own glory in unlikelihoods. 

Joshua was silent, and wisely spared his tongue for a further 
advantage ; only Caleb spake. I do not hear him say, " Who 
am I, to strive with a multitude? What can Joshua and I do 
against ten rulers ? It is better to sit still than to rise and fall ;" 
but he resolves to swim against this stream, and will either draw 
friends to the truth or enemies upon himself. True Christian 
fortitude teaches us not to regard the number or quality of the 
opponents, but the equity of the cause ; and cares not to stand 
alone, and challenge all comers ; and if it could be opposed by 
as many worlds as men, it may be overborne, but it cannot be 
daunted: whereas popularity carries weak* minds, and teaches 
them the safety of erring with a multitude. 

Caleb saw the giantly Anakims and the walled cities as well 
as the rest ; and yet he says, Let us go up and possess it : as if 
it were no more but to go and see, and conquer. Faith is 
courageous, and makes nothing of those dangers wherewith 
others are quailed. It is very material with what eyes we look 
upon all objects. Fear doth not more multiply evils than faith 
diminisheth them ; which is therefore bold, because either it sees 
not, or contemns that terror which fear represents to the weak. 
There is none so valiant as the believer. 

It had been happy for Israel if Caleb's counsel had been as 
effectual as good. But how easily have these rulers discouraged 
a fainthearted people! Instead of lifting up their ensigns and 
marching towards Canaan, they sit them down and lift up their 
voice* and cry. The rods of their Egyptian taskmasters had 
never been so fit for them as now for crying. They had cause 
indeed to weep for the sin of their infidelity ; but now they weep 
for fear of those enemies they saw not. I fear if there had been 
ten Calebs to persuade, and but two faint spies to discourage 
them, those two cowards would have prevailed against those ten 
solicitors: how much more now ten oppose and but two encou- 

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cont. iv. The searchers of Canaan. 151 

rage ! An easy rhetoric draws us to the worst part ; yea, it is 
hard not to run down the hill. The faction of evil is so much 
stronger in our nature than that of good, that every least motion 
prevails for the one, scarce any suit for the other. 

Now is Moses in danger of losing all the cost and care that 
ever he bestowed upon Israel : his people are already gone back 
to Egypt in their hearts, and their bodies are returning. ye 
rebellious Hebrews, where shall God have you at last? Did ever 
Moses promise to bring you to a fruitful land, without inha- 
bitants ! to give you a rich country, without resistance ? Are not 
the graves of Canaan as good as those of Egypt? What can ye 
but die at the hands of the Anakims ? Can ye hope for less from 
the Egyptians ? What madness is this, to wish to die for fear of 
death ? Is there less hope from your enemies that shall be when 
ye go under strong and expert leaders, than from the enemies 
that were when ye shall return masterless? Can those cruel 
Egyptians so soon have forgotten the blood of their fathers, 
children, brothers, husbands, which perished in pursuing you? 
Had ye rather trust the mercy of known enemies than the pro- 
mise of a faithful God ? Which way will ye return ? Who shall 
divide the sea for you ? Who shall fetch you water out of the 
rock? Or can ye hope that the manna of God will follow you 
while ye run from him? Feeble minds, when they meet with 
crosses they looked not for, repent of their good beginnings, and 
wish any difficulty rather than that they find. How many have 
pulled back their foot from the narrow way for the troubles of a 
good profession ! 

It had been time for the Israelites to have fallen down on their 
faces before Moses and Aaron, and to have scud, "Ye led us 
through the sea, make way for us into Canaan. Those giants 
are strong, but not so strong as the rock of Rephidim : ye struck 
that, and it yielded. If they be tall, the pillar of God is higher 
than they : when we look on ourselves, we see cause of fear'; but 
when we consider the miraculous power of you our leaders, we 
cannot but contemn those men of measures. Leave us not there- 
fore, but go before us in your directions ; go to God for us in 
your prayers." 

But now contrarily Moses and Aaron fall on their faces to 
them, and sue to them, that they would be content to be con- 
ducted. Had they been suffered to depart, they had perished ; 
Moses and his few had been victorious : and yet, as if he could 

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152 The searchers of Canaan. book vi. 

not be happy without them, he falls on his face to them, that 
they would stay. We have never so much need to be impor- 
tuned, as in those things whose benefit should make us most 
importunate. The sweetness of God's law and our promised 
glory is such as should draw all hearts after it ; and yet if we 
did not sue to men, as for life, that they would be reconciled to 
God and be saved, I doubt whether they would obey; yea, it 
were well if our suit were sufficient to prevail. 

Though Moses and Aaron entreat upon their faces, and Joshua 
and Caleb persuade and rend their garments, yet they move no- 
thing. The obstinate multitude, grown more violent with oppos- 
ing, is ready to return them stones for their prayers. Such have 
been ever the thanks of fidelity and truth ; crossed wickedness 
proves desperate, and instead of yielding, seeks for revenge. 
Nothing is so hateful to a resolute sinner as good counsel; we 
are become enemies to the world, because we tell them truth. 

That God, which was invisibly present while they sinned, when 
they have sinned shows himself glorious. They might have Been 
him before, that they should not sin ; now they cannot choose but 
see him in the height of their sin. They saw before the pillar 
of his ordinary presence, now they see him unusually terrible ; 
that they may with shame and horror confess him able to defend, 
able to revenge. The help of God uses to show itself in extre- 
mity. He that can prevent evils conceals his aid till danger be 
ripe ; and then he is as fearful as before he seemed connivent I 

CORAH'S CONSPIRACY.— Numbers xvi. 

The tears of Israel were scarce dry since the smart of their 
last mutiny, and now they begin another. The multitude is like 
a raging sea, full of unquiet billows of discontent, whereof one 
rises in the fall of another. They saw God did but threaten, and 
therefore are they bold to sin : it was now high time they should 
know what it is for God to be angry. There was never such a 
revenge taken of Israel, never any better deserved. When lesser 
warnings will not serve, God looks into his quiver for deadly 

In the mean time, what a weary life did Moses lead in these 
continual successions of conspiracies ! What did he gain by this 
troublesome government but danger and despite ? Who but he 
would not have wished himself rather with the sheep of Jethro, 

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cont. v. CoraJis conspiracy. 153 

than with these wolves of Israel ? But as he durst not quit his 
hook without the calling of God ; so now he dare not his sceptre, 
except he be dismissed of him that called him ; no troubles, no 
oppositions can drive him from his place : we are too weak if we 
suffer men to chase us from that station where God hath set us. 

I see the Levites not long since drawing their swords for God 
and Moses against the rest of Israel ; and that fact wins them both 
praise and blessing. Now they are the forwardest in the rebellion 
against Moses and Aaron, men of their own tribe* There is no 
assurance of a man for one act ; whom one sin cannot fasten upon, 
another may. Yea, the same sin may find a repulse one while 
from the same hand, which another time gives it enterainment ; 
and that yieldance loses the thank of all the former resistance. 
It is no praise to have done once well, unless we continue. 

Outward privileges of blood can avail nothing against a parti- 
cular calling of God. These Reubenites had the right of the na- 
tural primogeniture ; yet do they vainly challenge preeminence 
where God hath subjected them. If all civil honour flow from 
the king, how much more from the God of kings! His hand 
exalts the poor, and casts down the mighty from thoir throne. 
The man that will be lifting up himself in the pride of his heart 
from under the foot of God is justly trodden in the dust. 

Moses is the prince of Israel, Aaron the priest ; Moses was mild, 
Aaron popular ; yet both are conspired against : their places are 
no less brothers than their persons. Both are opposed at once. 
He that is a traitor to the church is a traitor to the king. 

Any superiority is a mark of envy. Had Moses and Aaron 
been but fellows with the Israelites, none had been better be- 
loved; their dispositions were such as must needs have forced 
favour from the indifferent : now they were advanced, their ma- 
lice is not inferior to their honour. High towers must look for 
lightnings ; we offer not to undermine but those walls which we 
cannot scale. Nature in every man is both envious and disdainful, 
and never loves to honour another but where it may be an honour 
to itself. 

There cannot be conceived an honour less worth emulation 
than this principality of Israel : a people that could give nothing ; 
a people that had nothing but in hope; a people whom their 
leader was fain to feed with bread and water ; which paid him 
no tribute but of ill words; whose command was nothing but a 


154 Corah's conspiracy. book vi, 

burden ; and yet this dignity was an eyesore to these Levites and 
these Reuberiites, Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. 

And this challenge, though thus unseasonable, hath drawn in 
two hundred and fifty captains of Israel. What wonder is it 
that the ten rulers prevailed so much with the multitude to dis- 
suade them from Canaan, when three traitors prevailed thus with 
two hundred and fifty rulers, famous in the congregation, and 
men of renown f One man may kindle such a fire as all the 
world cannot quench. One plague-sore may infect a whole king- 
dom : the infection of evil is much worse than the act. 

It is not like these leaders of Israel could err without fol- 
lowers : he is a mean man that draws not some clients after him. 
It hath been ever a dangerous policy of Satan to assault the best : 
he knows that the multitude, as we say of bees, will follow their 

Nothing can be more pleasing to the vulgar sort than to tear 
their governors taxed and themselves flattered. All the congrega- 
tion is holy, every one of them : wherefore lift ye up yourselves? 
Every word is a falsehood. For Moses dejected himself, Who 
am I? God lifted him up over Israel ; and so was Israel holy, 
as Moses was ambitious. What holiness was there in so much 
infidelity, fear, idolatry, mutiny, disobedience ? What could make 
them unclean, if this were holiness? They had scarce wiped 
their mouths or washed their hands since their last obstinacy, 
and yet these pickthanks say, All Israel is holy. 

I would never desire a better proof of a false teacher than flat- 
tery ; true meaning need not uphold itself by soothing. There 
is nothing easier than to persuade men well of themselves : when 
a man's self-love meets with another's flattery, it is an high praise 
that will not be believed. It was more out of opposition than 
belief, that these men plead the holiness of Israel. Violent ad- 
versaries, to uphold a side, will maintain those things they be- 
lieve not. 

Moses argues not for himself, but appeals to Ood; neither 
speaks for his own right, but his brother Aaron's. He knew that 
God's immediate service was worthy to be more precious than his 
government, that his princedom served but to the glory of his 
Master. Good magistrates are more tender over God's honour 
than their own, and more sensible of the wrongs offered to re- 
ligion than to themselves. 

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cont. v. Corah's conspiracy. 155 

It is safest to trust God with bis own causes. If Aaron had 
been chosen by Israel, Moses would have sheltered him under 
their authority ; now that God did immediately appoint him, his 
patronage is sought whose the election was. We may easily 
fault in the managing of divine affairs, and so our want of suc- 
cess cannot want sin ; he knows how to use, how to bless his own 

As there was a difference betwixt the people and Levites, so 
betwixt the Levites and priests. The God of order loves to have 
our degrees kept. While the Levites would be looking up to the 
priests, Moses sends down their eyes to the people. The way not 
to repine at those above us, is to look at those below us. There 
is no better remedy for ambition than to cast up our former re- 
ceipts, and to compare them with our deservings, and to confer 
our own estate with inferiors ; so shall we find cause to be thankful 
that we are above any, rather than of envy that any is above us. 

Moses hath chid the sons of Levi for mutinying against Aaron, 
and so much the more, because they were of his own tribe : now 
he sends for the Reubenites which rose against himself. They 
come not, and their message is worse than their absence. Moses 
is accused of injustice, cruelty, falsehood, treachery, usurpation ; 
and Egypt itself must be commended, rather than Moses shall 
want reproach. Innocency is no shelter from ill tongues : malice 
never regards how true any accusation is, but how spiteful. 

Now it was time for Moses to be angry. They durst not have 
been thus bold, if they had not seen his mildness. Lenity is ill 
bestowed upon stubborn natures, it is an injurious senselessness 
not to feel the wounds of our reputation. It well appears he is 
angry when he prays against them. He was displeased before, 
but when he was most bitter against them he still prayed for 
them : but now he bends his very prayers against them ; Look 
not to their offering. There can be no greater revenge than the 
imprecation of the righteous ; there can be no greater judgment 
than God's rejection of our services. With us men, what more 
argues dislike of the person than the turning back of his present ? 
What will God accept from us, if not prayers ? 

The innocence of Moses calls for revenge on his adversaries. 
If he had wronged them in his government, in vain should he 
have looked to God's hand for right. Our sins exclude us from 
God's protection, whereas uprightness challenges and finds his 
patronage. An ass taken had made him uncapable of favour. 

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156 Corah's conspiracy. book vi. 

Corrupt governors lose the comfort of their own breast, and the 
tuition of God. 

The same tongue that prayed against the conspirators prays 
for the people. As lewd men think to carry it with number, 
Corah had so far prevailed, that he had drawn the multitude to 
his side. God, the avenger of treasons, would have consumed 
them all at once ; Moses and Aaron pray for their rebels. Al- 
though they were worthy of death, and nothing but death could 
stop their mouths, yet their merciful leaders will not buy their 
own peace with the loss of such enemies. O rare and imitable 
mercy ! The people rise up against their governors, their gover- 
nors fall on their faces to God for the people ; so far are they 
from plotting revenge, that they will not endure God should re- 
venge for them. 

Moses knew well enough that all those Israelites must perish 
in the wilderness ; (rod had vowed it for their former insurrec- 
tion; yet how earnestly doth he sue to God not to consume 
them at once ! The very respite of evils is a favour next to the 

Corah kindled the fire, the two hundred and fifty captains 
brought sticks to it, all Israel warmed themselves by it, only the 
incendiaries perish. Now do the Israelites owe their life to them 
whose death they intended. God and Moses knew to distinguish 
betwixt the heads of the faction and the train : though neither be 
faultless, yet the one is plagued, the other forgiven. God's venge- 
ance when it is at the hottest makes differences of men ; Get you 
away from about the tabernacles of Corah. Ever before common 
judgment there is a separation. In the universal judgment of all 
the earth the Judge himself will separate; in these particular execu- 
tions we must separate ourselves. The society of wicked men, 
especially in their sins, is mortally dangerous ; while we will not 
be parted, how can we complain if we be enwrapped in their con- 
demnation? Our very company sins with them, why should we 
not smart with them also ? 

Moses had well hoped that when these rebels should see all the 
Israelites run from them as from monsters, and looking affright- 
edly upon their tents, and should hear that fearful proclamation 
of vengeance against them, (howsoever they did before set a face 
on their conspiracy, yet now) their hearts would have misgiven : 
but lo, these bold traitors stand impudently staring in the door of 
their tents, as if they would outface the revenge of God ; as if 

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cost. v. Corah's conspiracy. 157 

Moses had never wrought miracle before them, as if no one 
Israelite had ever bled for rebelling. Those that shall perish are 
blinded. Pride and infidelity obdures the heart, and makes even 
cowards fearless. 

So soon as the innocent are severed, the guilty perish : the 
earth cleaves, and swallows up the rebels. This element was not 
used to such morsels. It devours the carcasses of men, but bodies 
informed with living souls never before. To have seen them 
struck dead upon the earth had been fearful, but to see the earth 
at once their executioner and grave was more horrible. Neither 
the sea nor the earth are fit to give passage : the sea is moist and 
flowing, and will not be divided, for the continuity of it ; the earth 
is dry and massy, and will neither yield naturally nor meet again 
when it hath yielded : yet the waters did cleave, to give way unto 
Israel for their preservation ; the earth did cleave, to give way to 
the conspirators in judgment : both sea and earth did shut their 
jaws again upon the adversaries of Qod. 

There was more wonder in this latter. It was a marvel that 
the waters opened ; it was no wonder that they shut again, for 
the retiring and flowing was natural. It was no less marvel that 
the earth opened, but more marvel that it did shut again, because 
it had no natural disposition to meet when it was divided. Now 
might Israel see they had to do with a God that could revenge 
with ease. 

There were two sorts of traitors ; the earth swallowed up the 
one, the fire the other. All the elements agree to serve the 
vengeance of their Maker. Nadab and Abihu brought fit persons, 
but unfit fire to Ood ; these Levites bring the right fire, but un- 
warranted persons before him ; fire from Qod consumes both. It 
is a dangerous thing to usurp sacred functions. The ministry will 
not grace the man, the man may disgrace the ministry. 

The common people were not so fast gathered to Corah's flat- 
tering persuasion before, as now they ran from the sight and fear 
of his judgment. I marvel not if they could not trust that earth 
whereon they stood, while they knew their hearts had been false. 
It is a madness to run away from punishment and not from sin. 

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158 Aaron s censer and rod. book vii. 




J. H. 

AARON'S CENSER AND ROD.— Numbers xvi, xvii. 

When shall we see an end of these murmurings and these 
judgments ? Because these men rose up against Moses and Aaron, 
therefore God consumed them ; and because God consumed them, 
therefore the people rise up against Moses and Aaron ; and now, 
because the people thus murmur, God hath again begun to con- 
sume them. What a circle is here of sins and judgments ! Wrath 
is gone out from God, Moses is quicksighted and spies it at the 
setting out. By how much more faithful and familiar we are 
with God, so much earlier do we discern his judgments ; as those 
which are well acquainted with men know by their looks and 
gestures that which strangers understand but by their actions, as 
finer tempers are more sensible of the changes of weather. Hence 
the seers of God have ever from their watchtower descried the 
judgments of God afar off. If another man had seen from Carmel 
a cloud of a handbreadth, he could not have told Ahab he should 
be wet. It is enough for God's messengers, out of their acquaint- 
ance with their Master's proceedings, to foresee punishment : no 
marvel if those see it not which are wilfully sinful : we men reveal 
not our secret purposes either to enemies or strangers : all their 
favour is to feel the plague ere they can espy it 

Moses, though he were great with God, yet he takes not upon 
him this reconciliation : he may advise Aaron what to do, him- 
self undertakes not to act it : it is the work of the priesthood to 
make an atonement for the people. Aaron was first his brother's 

* [See Book III.] 

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cont. i. Aaron's censer and rod. 1 59 

tongue to Pharaoh, now he is the people's tongue to God: he 
only must offer up the incense of the public prayers to God. 
Who would not think it a small thing to hold a censer in his 
hand ? yet if any other had done it, he had fallen with the dead, 
and not stood betwixt the living and dead ; instead of the smoke 
ascending, the fire had descended upon him ; and shall there be 
less use or less regard of the evangelical ministry than the 
legal? When the world hath poured out all his contempt, we 
are they that must reconcile men to God, and without us they 

I know not whether more to marvel at the courage or mercy 
of Aaron; his mercy, that he would yet save so rebellious a 
people; his courage, that he would save them with so great a 
danger of himself: for, as one that would part a fray, he thrusts 
himself under the strokes of God ; and puts it to the choice of 
the revenger, whether he will smite him or forbear the rest. He 
stands boldly betwixt the living and the dead, as one that will 
either die with them, or have them live with him. The sight of 
fourteen hundred carcasses dismayed him not. He that before 
feared the threats of the people, now fears not the strokes of 
God. It is not for God's ministers to stand upon their own 
perils in the common causes of the church ; their prayers must 
oppose the judgments of the Almighty : when the fire of God's 
anger is kindled, their censers must smoke with fire from the 
altar. Every Christian must pray the removal of vengeance ; 
how much more they whom God hath appointed to mediate for 
his people I Every man's mouth is his own; but they are the 
mouths of all. 

Had Aaron thrust in himself with empty hands, I doubt 
whether he had prevailed ; now his censer was his protection : 
when we come with supplications in our hands, we need not fear 
the strokes of God. We have leave to resist the divine judg- 
ments by our prayers with favour and success. So soon as the 
incense of Aaron ascended up unto God, he smelt a savour of 
rest : he will rather spare the offenders, than strike their inter- 
cessor. How hardly can any people miscarry, that have faithful 
ministers to sue for their safety : nothing but the smoke of hearty 
prayers can cleanse the air from the plagues of God. 

If Aaron's sacrifice were thus accepted, how much more shall 
the High Priest of the new testament, by interposing himself 
to the wrath of his Father, deliver the offenders from deat) . 

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160 Aaron s censer and rod. book vii. 

The plague was entered upon all the sons of men ; Saviour, 
thou stoodst betwixt the living and the dead, that all which 
believe in thee should not perish. Aaron offered and was not 
stricken; but thou, Redeemer, wouldst offer and be struck, 
that by thy stripes we might be healed : so stoodst thou betwixt 
the dead and living, that thou wert both alive and dead ; and all 
this that we, when we were dead, might live for ever. 

Nothing more troubled Israel than a fear lest the two brethren 
should cunningly engross the government to themselves. If they 
had done so, what wise man would have envied them an office so 
little worth, so dearly purchased? But because this conceit was 
ever apt to stir them to rebellion, and to hinder the benefit of 
this holy sovereignty, therefore God hath endeavoured nothing 
more than to let them see that these officers, whom they so 
much envied, were of his own proper institution. They had 
scarce shut their eyes, since they saw the confusion of those two 
hundred and fifty usurping sacrificers, and Aaron's effectual in- 
tercession for staying the plague of Israel. In the one, the exe- 
cution of God's vengeance upon the competitors of Aaron for 
his sake; in the other, the forbearance of vengeance upon the 
people for Aaron's mediation might hare challenged their vo- 
luntary acknowledgment of his just calling from God : if there 
had been in them either awe or thankfulness, they could not 
have doubted of his lawful supremacy. How could they choose 
but argue thus : " Why would God so fearfully have destroyed 
the rivals that durst contest with Aaron, if he would have al- 
lowed him any equal? Wherefore serve those plates of the 
altar, which we see made of those usurped censers, but to warn 
all posterity of such presumption? Why should God cease 
striking, while Aaron interposed betwixt the living and the dead, 
if he were but as one of us I Which of us, if we had stood in the 
plague, had not added to the heap ?" 

Incredulous minds will not be persuaded with any evidence. 
These two brothers had lived asunder forty years ; God makes 
them both meet in one office of delivering Israel. One half of 
the miracles were wrought by Aaron : he struck with the rod, 
while it brought those plagues on Egypt. The Israelites heard 
God call him up by name to Mount Sinai ; they saw him anointed 
from God ; and lest they should think this a set match betwixt 
the brethren, they saw the earth opening, the fire issuing from 
God upon their emulous opposites ; they saw his smoke a suffi- 

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coxt. i. Aaron $ censer and rod. 161 

dent antidote for the plague of God; and yet still Aaron's 
calling is questioned. Nothing is more natural to every man 
than unbelief; but the earth never yielded a people so strongly 
incredulous as these; and after so many thousand generations 
their children do inherit their obstinacy; still do they oppose 
the true High Priest, the Anointed of God: sixteen hundred 
years' desolation hath not drawn from them to confess Him whom 
God hath chosen. 

How desirous was God to give satisfaction even to the obsti- 
nate I There is nothing more material than that men should be 
assured their spiritual guides have their commission and calling 
from God, the want whereof is a prejudice to our success. It 
should not be so ; but the corruption of men will not receive good 
but from due messengers. 

Before, God wrought miracles in the rod of Moses ; now, in 
the rod of Aaron. As Pharaoh might see himself in Moses's 
rod, who of a rod of defence and protection was turned into 
a venomous serpent ; so Israel might see themselves in the rod 
of Aaron. Every tribe and every Israelite was of himself as a 
sere stick; without life, without sap ; and if any one of them had 
power to live and flourish, he must acknowledge it from the 
immediate power and gift of God. 

Before God's calling, all men are alike : every name is alike 
written in their rod ; there is no difference in the letters, in the 
wood ; neither the characters of Aaron are fairer, nor the staff 
more precious ; it is the choice of God that makes the distinction : 
so it is in our calling of Christianity ; all are equally devoid of 
the possibility of grace : all equally lifeless ; by nature we all are 
sons of wrath : if we be now better than others, who separated 
us? We are all crab-stocks in this orchard of God; he may 
graff what fruit he pleases upon us, only the grace and effectual 
calling of God makes the difference. 

These twelve heads of Israel would never have written their 
names in their rods but in hope they might be chosen to this 
dignity. What an honour was this priesthood, whereof all the 
princes of Israel are ambitious ! If they had not thought it an 
high preferment, they had never so much envied the office of 
Aaron. What shall we think of this change ? Is the evangelical 
ministration of less worth than the Levitical? While the testa- 
ment is better, is the service worse? How is it that the great 
think themselves too good for this employment ? How is it, that 


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162 Aaron's censer and rod. book vii. 

under the gospel men are disparaged with that which honoured 
them under the law ; that their ambition and our scorn meet in 
one subject? 

These twelve rods are not laid up in the several cabinets of 
their owners, but are brought forth and laid before the Lord. 
It is fit God should make choice of his own attendants. Even 
we men hold it injurious to have servants obtruded upon us by 
others : never shall that man have comfort in his ministry whom 
God hath not chosen. The great Commander of the world hath 
set every man in his station ; to one he hath said, " Stand thou 
in this tower, and watch i" to another, " Make thou good these 
trenches :" to a third, " Dig thou in this mine." He that gives 
and knows our abilities can best set us on work. 

This rod was the pastoral staff of Aaron, the great shepherd 
of Israel. God testifies his approbation of his charge by the 
fruit. That a rod cut off from the tree should blossom, it was 
strange ; but that in one night it should bear buds, blossoms, 
fruit, and that both ripe and hard, it was highly miraculous. 
The same power that revives the dead plants of winter in the 
spring, doth it here without earth, without time, without sun; 
that Israel might see and grant it was no reason his choice should 
be limited, whose power is unlimited. 

Fruitfulness is the best argument of the calling of God : not 
only all the plants of his setting, but the very boughs cut off 
from the body of them will flourish. And that there may not 
want a succession of increase, here are fruit, blossoms, buds ; both 
proof and hope inseparably mixed. 

It could not but be a great comfort unto Aaron to see his rod 
thus miraculously flourishing ; to see this wonderful testimony of 
God's favour and election : sure he could not but think, " Who 
am I, God, that thou shouldest thus choose me out of all the 
tribes of Israel ? My weakness hath been more worthy of thy 
rod of correction, than my rod hath been worthy of these blos- 
soms. How hast thou magnified me in the sight of all thy 
people ! How able art thou to uphold my imbecility with the rod 
of thy support, how able to defend me with the rod of thy power, 
who hast thus brought fruit out of the sapless rod of my profes- 
sion V* That servant of God is worthy to faint that holds it not 
a sufficient encouragement to see the evident proofs of his Master's 

Commonly, those fruits which are soon ripe soon wither ; but 

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cont. ii. The brazen serpent 163 

these almonds of Aaron's rod are not more early than lasting ; 
the same hand which brought them out before their time, pre- 
served them beyond their time ; and for perpetual memory both 
rod and fruit must be kept in the ark of God. The tables of 
Moses, the rod of Aaron, the manna of God, are monuments fit 
for so holy a shrine. The doctrine, sacraments, and government 
of God's people are precious to him, and must be so to men. All 
times shall see and wonder how his ancient church was fed, 
taught, ruled. Moses's rod did great miracles, yet I find it not 
in the ark. The rod of Aaron hath this privilege, because it car- 
ried the miracle still in itself; whereas the wonders of that other 
rod were past. Those monuments would God have continued in 
his church which carry in them the most manifest evidences of 
that which they import. 

The same God, which by many transient demonstrations had 
approved the calling of Aaron to Israel, will now have a perma- 
nent memorial of their conviction ; that whensoever they should 
see this relic, they should be ashamed of their presumption and 
infidelity. The name of Aaron was not more plainly written in 
that rod than the sin of Israel was in the fruit of it ; and how 
much Israel finds their rebellion beaten with this rod appears in 
their present relenting and complaint ; Behold, we are dead, we 
perish. God knows how to pull down the biggest stomach, and 
can extort glory to his own name from the most obstinate gain- 


Seven times already hath Israel mutinied against Moses, and 
seven times hath either been threatened or punished, yet now 
they fall to it afresh. As a testy man finds occasion to chafe at 
every trifle, so this discontented people either find or make all 
things troublesome. One while they have no water, then bitter ; 
one while no God, then one too many ; one while no bread, then 
bread enough, but too light ; one while they will not abide their 
governors, then they cannot abide their loss. Aaron and Miriam 
were never so grudged alive as they are bewailed dead. Before, 
they wanted onions, garlic, flesh pots ; now they want figs, vines, 
pomegranates, corn. And as crabbed children, that cry for every 

M 2 

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164 The brazen serpent. book vii. 

thing they can think of, are whipped by their wise mother, so God 
justly serves these fond Israelites. 

It was first their way that makes them repine. They were 
fain to go round about Idumea, the journey was long and trou- 
blesome. They had sent entreaties to Edoin for license of pas- 
sage the next way, reasonably, submissly ; it was churlishly de- 
nied them. Esau lives still in his posterity, Jacob in Israel: 
the combat which they began in Rebecca's belly is not yet ended ; 
Ainalek, which was one limb of Esau, follows them at the heels; 
the Edomite, which was another, meets them in the face : so long 
as there is a world there will be opposition to the chosen of God. 
They may come at their peril, the way had been nearer but 
bloody, they dare not go it and yet complain of length. 

If they were afraid to purchase their restingplace with war, 
how much less would they their passage 1 What should God do 
with impatient men? They will not go the nearest way, and yet 
complain to go about. He that will pass to the promised land 
must neither stand upon length of way nor difficulty. Every way 
hath his inconveniences ; the nearest hath more danger, the far- 
thest hath more pain ; either or both must be overcome if ever 
we will enter the rest of God. 

Aaron and Miriam were now past the danger of their mutinies ; 
for want of another match, they join God with Moses in their 
murmurings: though they had not mentioned him they could 
not sever him in their insurrection ; for in the causes of his own 
servants he challenges even when he is not challenged. What 
will become of thee, O Israel, when thou makest thy Maker thine 
enemy? Impatience is the cousin to frensy ; this causes men not 
to care upon whom they run, so they may breathe out some 
revenge. How oft have we heard men that have been displeased 
by others tear the name of their Maker in pieces ! He that will 
judge and can confound is fetched into the quarrel without cause. 
But if to strive with a mighty man be unwise and unsafe, what 
shall it be to strive with the mighty God ? 

As an angry child casts away that which is given him, because 
he hath not that he would, so do these foolish Israelites : their 
bread is light and their water unsatisfying, because their way dis- 
pleased them. Was ever people fed with such bread or water ? 
Twice hath the very rock yielded them water, and every day the 
heaven affords them bread. Did any one soul amongst them 
miscarry either for hunger or thirst? But no bread will down 

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cont. ii. The brazen serpent. 165 

with them save that which the earth yields ; no water but from 
the natural wells or rivers. Unless nature may be allowed to be 
her own carver she is never contented. 

Manna had no fault, but that it was too good and too frequent : 
the pulse of Egypt had been fitter for these coarse mouths. This 
heavenly bread was unspeakably delicious, it tasted like wafers 
of honey ; and yet even this angels 1 food is contemned. He that 
is full despiseth an honeycomb. How sweet and delicate is the 
gospel! Not only the fathers of the old testament, but the 
angels, desired to look into the glorious mysteries of it ; and yet 
we are cloyed. This supernatural food is too light : the bread- 
corn of our human reason and profound discourse would better 
content us. 

Moses will not revenge this wrong, God will ; yet will he not 
deal with them himself, but he sends the fiery serpents to answer 
for him ; how fitly ! They had carried themselves like serpents 
to their governors; how oft had they stung Moses and Aaron 
near to death ! If the serpent bite when he is not charmed, no 
better is a slanderer. Now these venomous adders revenge it, 
which are therefore called fiery, because their poison scalded to 
death : God hath an hand in the annoyance and hurt of the basest 
creature ; how much less can the sting of an ill tongue or the 
malice of an ill spirit strike us without him ! While they were 
in Goshen, the frogs, lice, caterpillars spared them and plagued 
the Egyptians ; now they are rebellious in the desert, the serpents 
find them out and sting them to death. He that brought the 
quails thither to feed them fetches these serpents thither to pu- 
nish them. While we are at wars with God we can look for no 
peace with his creatures: every thing rejoices to execute the 
vengeance of his Maker. The stones of the field will not be in 
league with us while we are not in league with God. 

These men, when the spies had told them news of the giants of 
Canaan, a little before had wished, Would to God we were dead 
in this wilderness I now God had heard their prayers, what with 
the plague, what with the serpents, many thousands of them died. 
The ill wishes of our impatience are many times heard. As those 
good things are not granted us which we pray for without care, 
so those evils which we pray for, and would not have, are oft 
granted. The ears of God are not only open to the prayers of 
faith, but to the imprecations of infidelity. It is dangerous wishing 

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166 The brazen seiyent. book vii. 

evil to ourselves or ours : it is just with God to take us at our 
word, and to effect that which our lips speak against our heart. 

Before, God hath ever consulted with Moses, and threatened 
ere he punished ; now he strikes and says nothing. The anger 
is so much more by how much less notified. When God is not 
heard before he is felt, (as in the hewing of wood the blow is not 
heard till the axe be seen to have struck,) it is a fearful sign of 
displeasure : it is with God as with us men, that still revenges are 
ever most dangerous. Till now, all was well enough with Israel, 
and yet they grudged : those that will complain without a cause 
shall have cause to complain for something. Discontented hu- 
mours seldom escape unpunished, but receive that most justly 
whereat they repined unjustly. 

Now the people are glad to seek to Moses unbidden. Ever 
heretofore they have been wont to be sued to and entreated for 
without their own entreaty; now their misery makes them im- 
portunate : there needs no solicitor where there is sense of smart. 
It were pity men should want affliction, since it sends them to their 
prayers and confessions. All the persuasions of Moses could not 
do that which the serpents have done for him. O God, thou seest 
how necessary it is we should be stung sometimes, else we should 
run wild, and never come to a sound humiliation : we should never 
seek thee, if thy hand did not find us out. 

They had spoken against God and Moses, and now they hum- 
bly speak to Moses that he would pray to God for them. He 
that so oft prayed for them unbidden, cannot but much more do 
it requested; and now obtains the means of their cure. It was 
equally in the power of God to remove the serpents and to heal 
their stinging; to have cured the Israelites by his word and by 
his sign: but he finds it best for his people (to exercise their 
faith) that the serpents may bite, and their bitings may envenom, 
and that this venom may endanger the Israelites ; and that they, 
thus affected, may seek to him for remedy, and seeking may find 
it from such means as should have no power but in signification ; 
that while their bodies were cured by the sign, their souls might 
be confirmed by the matter signified. A serpent of brass could 
no more heal than sting them. What remedy could their eyes 
give to their legs ? Or what could a serpent of cold brass prevail 
against a living and fiery serpent? In this troublesome desert 
we are all stung by that fiery and old serpent : Saviour, it is 

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cont. in. Of Balaam. 167 

to thee we must look and be cured ; it is thou that wert their 
paschal lamb, their manna, their rock, their serpent. To all pur- 
poses dost thou vary thyself to thy church, that we may find thee 
every where : thou art for our nourishment, refreshing, cure ; as 
hereafter, so even now, all in all. 

This serpent, which was appointed for cure to Israel, at last 
stings them to death by idolatrous abuse. What poison there 
is in idolatry that makes even antidotes deadly! As Moses 
therefore raised this serpent, so Hezekiah pulled it down : God 
commanded the raising of it, God approved the demolishing of it. 
Superstitious use can mar the very institutions of God, how much 
more the most wise and well grounded devices of men. 

OF BALAAM. — Numbers xxii-xxiv. 

Moab and Midian had been all this while standers by and 
lookers on. If they had not seen the pattern of their own ruin 
in these neighbours, it had never troubled them to see the kings 
of the Amorites and Bashan to fall before Israel. Uad not the 
Israelites camped in the plains of Moab, their victories had been 
no eyesore to Balak. Wicked men never care to observe God's 
judgments till themselves be touched : the fire of a neighbour's 
house would not so affect us, if it were not with tho danger of our 
awn: secure minds never startle till God come home to their 
very senses. 

Balak and his Moabites had wit enough to fear, not wit enough 
to prevent judgment : they see an enemy in their borders, and 
yet take no right course for their safety. Who would not have 
looked that they should have come to Israel with conditions of 
peace ? Or why did they not think, " Either Israel's God is stronger 
than ours, or he is not. If he be not, why are we afraid of him ? 
If he be, why do we not serve him ? The same hand which gives 
them victory can give us protection.' 1 Carnal men, that are se- 
cure of the vengeance of God ere it do come, are mastered with 
it when it doth come, and, not knowing which way to turn them, 
run forth at the wrong door. 

The Midianites join with the Moabites in consultation, in action 
against Israel : one would have thought they should have looked 
for favour from Moses for Jethro's sake, which was both a prince 
of their country and father-in-law to Moses, and either now, or 

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168 Of Balaam. book vh. 

not long before, was with Israel in the wilderness. Neither is it 
like, but that Moses, haying found forty years' harbour amongst 
them, would have been (what he might) inclinable to favourable 
treaties with them; but now they are so fast linked to Moab, 
that they will either sink or swim together. Entireness with 
wicked consorts is one of the strongest chains of hell, and binds 
us to a participation both of sin and punishment : an easy occasion 
will knit wicked hearts together in conspiracy against the Church 
of God. 

Their errand is devilish. Came, curse Israel: that which Satan 
could not do by the swords of Og and Sehon, he will now try to 
effect by the tongue of Balaam. If either strength or policy 
would prevail against God's Church it could not stand. And why 
should not we be as industrious to promote the glory of God, and 
bend both our hands and heads to the causes of the Almighty ? 
When all helps fail Moab, the magician is sought to. It is a sign 
of a desperate cause to make Satan either our counsellor or our 

Why did they not send to Balaam to bless themselves, rather 
than to curse Israel ? It had been more easy to be defended from 
the hurt of their enemies, than to have their enemies laid open 
to be hurt by them. Pride and malice did not care so much 
for safety as for conquest ; it would not conteft them to escape 
Israel, if Israel may escape them; it was not thankworthy to 
save their own blood, if they did not spill the blood of others ; as 
if their own prosperity had been nothing, if Israel also prospered I 
If there be one project worse than another, a wicked heart will 
find it out ; nothing but destruction will content the malicious. 

I know not whether Balaam were more famous, or Balak more 
confident. If the king had not been persuaded of the strength 
of his charm, he had not sent so far and paid so dear for it : now 
he trusts more to his enchantment than to the forces of Moab 
and Midian ; and, as if heaven and earth were in the power of 
a charmer's tongue, he saith, He that thou blessest is blessed; 
and he whom thou cursest is cursed. Magic, through the per- 
mission of God, is powerful ; for whatsoever the devil can do, the 
magician may do ; but it is madness to think either of them omni- 
potent. If either the curses of men or the endeavours of the 
powers of darkness should be effectual, all would be hell. No, 
Balak : so short is the power of thy Balaam, that neither thou 
nor thy prophet himself can avoid that curse which thou wouldst 

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cont. in. Of Balaam. 169 

have brought upon Israel. Had Balaam been a true prophet of 
God, this bold assurance had been but just. Both those ancient 
seers and the prophets of the gospel have the ratification of God 
in heaven to their sentences on earth. Why have we less care of 
the blessings, and less fear of the curses and censures of God's 
ministers? Who would not rather have Elisha's guard, than 
both the kings of Israel and Assyria? He himself, as he had 
the angelical chariots and horsemen about him, so was he the 
chariots and horsemen of Israel. Why should our faith be less 
strong than superstition ? or why should God's agents have less 
virtue than Satan's ? 

I should wonder to hear God speak with a false prophet, if I 
did not know it hath been no rare thing with him (as with men) 
to bestow words, even where he will not bestow favour. Pharaoh, 
Abimelech, Nebuchadnezzar, receive visions from God: neither 
can I think this strange, when I hear God speaking to Satan in 
a question no less familiar than this of Balaam, Whence earnest 
thou, Satan ? Not the sound of the voice of God, but the matter 
which he speaks argues love: he may speak to an enemy; he 
speaks peace to none but his own. It is a vain brag, " God hath 
spoken to me;" so may he do to reprobates or devils. But 
what said he? Did he say to my soul, / am thy salvation? 
Hath he indented with me that he will be my God, and I shall be 
his ? I cannot hear this voice, and not live. 

God heard all the consultation and message of these Moabites : 
these messengers could not have moved their foot or their tongue 
but in him ; and yet he, which asked Adam where he was, asks 
Balaam, What men are these f I have ever seen that God loves 
to take occasion of proceeding with us from ourselves, rather 
than from his own immediate prescience. Hence it is that we 
lay open our wants and confess our sins to him that knows both 
better than our own hearts, because he will deal with us from 
our own mouths. 

The prevention of God forbids both his journey and his curse : 
and what if he had been suffered to go and curse? What corn 
had this wind shaken, when God meant to bless them? How 
many bulls have bellowed out execrations against this church of 
God ! What are we the worse ? Tea I doubt if we had been so 
much blessed, had not those Balaamitish curses been spent upon 
us. He that knows what waste wind the causeless curses of 
wicked men are, yet will not have Balaam curse Israel ; because 

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170 Of Balaam. bookvii. 

he will not allow Balak so much encouragement in his opposition 
as the conceit of this help. Or perhaps, if Balak thought this 
sorcerer a true prophet, God would not have his name, so much 
as in the opinion of the heathen, scandalized, in usurping it to a 
purpose which he meant not should succeed. 

The hand of God is in the restraint of many evils which we 
never knew to be towards us. The Israelites sat still in their 
tents; they little thought what mischief was brewing against 
them : without ever making them of counsel, God crosses the 
designs of their enemies. He that keepeth Israel is both a sure 
and a secret friend. 

The reward of the divination had easily commanded the journey 
and curse of the covetous prophet, if God had not stayed him. 
How oft are wicked men curbed by a divine hand, even in those 
sins which their heart stands to. It is no thank to lewd men that 
their wickedness is not prosperous. Whence is it that the world 
is not overrun with evil, but from this, that men cannot be so ill 
as they would ? 

The first entertainment of this message would make a stranger 
think Balaam wise and honest: he will not give a sudden 
answer, but craves leisure to consult with God, and promises to 
return the answer he shall receive. Who would not say, " This 
man is free from rashness, from partiality?" Dissimulation is 
crafty, and able to deceive thousands. The words are good: 
when he comes to action, the fraud bewrays itself; for both he 
insinuates his own forwardness, and casts the blame of the pro- 
hibition upon God, and, which is worse, delivers but half his an- 
swer : he says indeed, God refuses to give me leave to go : he 
says not, as it was, He charges me not to curse them, for they 
are blessed. So did Balaam deny, as one that wished to be sent 
for again. Perhaps a peremptory refusal had hindered his further 
solicitation. Concealment of some truths is sometimes as faulty as 
a denial. True fidelity is not niggardly in her relations. 

Where wickedness meets with power, it thinks to command 
all the world, and takes great scorn of any repulse. So little is 
Balak discouraged with one refusal, that he sends so much the 
stronger message ; more princes, and more honourable. O that 
we could be so importunate for our good, as wicked men are for 
the compassing of their own designs! A denial doth but whet 
the desires of vehement suitors. Why are we faint in spiritual 
things, when we are not denied, but delayed ? 

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cont. in. Of Balaam. 171 

Those which are themselves transported with vanity and ambi- 
tion think that no heart hath power to resist these offers. Balak's 
princes thought they had struck it dead when they had once 
mentioned promotion to great honour. Self-love makes them 
think they cannot be slaves while others may be free ; and that 
all the world would be glad to run on madding after their bait. 
Nature thinks it impossible to contemn honour and wealth ; and 
because too many souls are thus taken, cannot believe that any 
would escape. But let carnal hearts know, that there are those 
who can spit the world in the face, and say, Thy gold and silver 
perish with thee ; and that, in comparison of a good conscience, 
can tread under foot his best proffers, like shadows, as they are ; 
and that can do as Balaam said. 

How near truth and falsehood can lodge together ! Here was 
piety in the lips and covetousness in the heart. Who can any 
more regard good words that hears Balaam speak so like a saint ? 
An houseful of gold and silver may not pervert his tongue, his 
heart is won with less ; for if he had not already swallowed the 
reward, and found it sweet, why did he again solicit God in that 
which was peremptorily denied him ? If his mind had not been 
bribed already, why did he stay the messengers? why did he 
expect a change in God ? why was he willing to feed them with 
hope of success which had fed him with hope of recompense ? 
One prohibition is enough for a good man. While the delay of 
God doth but hold us in suspense, importunity is holy and sea- 
sonable ; but when once he gives a resolute denial, it is profane 
sauciness to solicit him. When we ask what we are bidden, our 
suits are not more vehement than welcome; but when we beg 
prohibited favours, our presumption is troublesome and abomi- 
nable : no good heart will endure to be twice forbidden. 

Tet this importunity hath obtained a permission ; but a per- 
mission worse than a denial. I heard God say before, Go not, 
nor curse them; now he says, Go, but curse not; anon, he is 
angry that he did go. Why did he permit that which he forbad, 
if he be angry for doing that which he permitted I Some things 
God permits with an indignation ; not for that he gives leave to 
the act, but that he gives a man over to his sin in the act ; this 
sufferance implies not favour, but judgment : so did God bid Ba- 
laam to go, as Solomon bids the young man follow the ways of 
his own heart. It is one thing to like, another thing to suffer : 
Moses never approved those legal divorces, yet he tolerated 

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172 Of Balaam. book vii. 

them: God never liked Balaam's journey, yet he displeasedly 
gives way to it ; as if he said, " Well, since thou art so hot set on 
this journey, begone." And thus Balaam took it : else, when 
God after professed his displeasure for the journey, it had been a 
ready answer, " Thou commandedst me ;" but herein his confes- 
sion argues his guilt. Balaam's suit and Israel's quails had both 
one fashion of grant ; in anger. How much better is it to have 
gracious denials than angry yieldings ! 

A small persuasion heartens the willing : it booted not to bid 
the covetous prophet hasten to his way. Now he makes himself 
sure of success. His corrupt heart tells him, that as God had 
relented in his license to go, so he might perhaps in his license to 
curse ; and he saw how this curse might bless him with abun- 
dance of wealth ; he rose up early therefore, and saddled his ass. 
The night seemed long to his forwardness. Covetous men need 
neither clock nor bell to awaken them ; their desires make them 
restless. that we could with as much eagerness seek the true 
riches, which only can make us happy ! 

We, that see only the outside of Balaam, may marvel why he 
that permitted him to go, afterward opposes his going ; but God, 
that saw his heart, perceived what corrupt affections carried him ; 
he saw that his covetous desires and wicked hopes grew the 
stronger, the nearer he came to his end : an angel is therefore 
sent to withhold the hasty sorcerer : our inward disposition is the 
life of our actions; according to that doth the God of spirits 
judge us, while men censure according to our external motions. 
To go at all, when God had commanded to stay, was presump- 
tuous; but to go with desire to curse, made the act doubly 
sinful, and fetched an angel to resist it. It is one of the worthy 
employments of good angels to make secret opposition to evil 
designs: many a wicked act have they hindered without the 
knowledge of the agent. It is all one with the Almighty, to 
work by spirits and men ; it is therefore our glory to be thus set 
on work : to stop the course of evil, either by dissuasion or vio- 
lence, is an angelical service. 

In what danger are wicked men that have God's angels their 
opposites ! The devil moved him to go ; a good angel resists 
him. If an heavenly spirit stand in the way of a sorcerer's sin, 
how much more ready are all those spiritual powers to stop the 
miscarriages of God's dear children ! How oft had we fallen yet 
more, if these guardians had not upheld us ; whether by removing 

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cont. in. Of Balaam. 173 

occasions, or by casting in good instincts I As oar good endea- 
vours are oft hindered by Satan, so are our evil by good 
angels ; else were not our protection equal to our danger, and we 
could neither stand nor rise. 

It had been as easy for the angel to strike Balaam as to stand 
in his way, and to have followed him in his starting aside, as to 
stop him in a narrow path : but even the good angels have their 
stints in their executions. God had somewhat more to do with 
the tongue of Balaam, and therefore he will not have him slain, but 
withstood, and so withstood that he shall pass. It is not so much 
glory to God to take away wicked men, as to use their evil to his 
own holy purposes. How soon could the Commander of heaven 
and earth rid the earth of bad members ! But so should he lose 
the praise of working good by evil instruments. It sufficeth 
that the angels of God resist their actions while their persons 

That no man may marvel to see Balaam have visions from 
God and utter prophecies from him, his very ass hath his eyes 
opened to see the angel, which his master could not, and his 
mouth opened to speak more reasonably than his master. There 
is no beast deserves so much wonder as this of Balaam, whose 
common sense is advanced above the reason of his rider, so as for 
the time the prophet is brutish and the beast prophetical. Who 
can but stand amazed at the eye, at the tongue of this silly 
creature ? For so dull a sight, it was much to see a bodily ob- 
ject that were not too apparent, but to see that spirit which his 
rider discerned not was far beyond nature. To hear a voice 
come from that mouth which was used only to bray, it was strange 
and uncouth : but to hear a boast, whose nature is noted for inca- 
pacity, to outreason his master, a professed prophet, is in the very 
height of miracles : yet can no heart stick at these that considers 
the dispensation of the Almighty in both. Our eye could no more 
see a beast, than a beast can see an angel, if ho had not given 
this power to it. How easy is it for him that made the eye of man 
and beast, to dim or enlighten it at his pleasure ; and if his power 
can make the very stones to speak, how much more a creature of 
sense I That evil spirit spake in the serpent to our first parents ; 
why is it more that a spirit should speak in the mouth of a beast ? 
How ordinarily did the heathen receive their oracles out of stones 
and trees I Do not we ourselves teach birds to speak those sen- 
tences they understand not ? we may wonder, we cannot distrust, 

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174 Of Balaam. book vii. 

when we compare the act with the Author, which can as easily 
create a voice without a body, as a body without a voice. Who 
now can hereafter plead his simplicity and dulness of apprehending 
spiritual things, when he sees how (rod exalts the eyes of a beast 
to see a spirit? Who can be proud of seeing visions, since an angel 
appeared to a beast ? Neither was his skin better after it than 
others of his kind. Who can complain of his own rudeness and 
inability to reply in a good cause, when the very beast is enabled 
by God to convince his master ? There is no mouth into which 
God cannot put words, and how oft doth he choose the weak and 
unwise to confound the learned and mighty ! 

What had it been better for the ass to see the angel if he had 
rushed still upon his sword ? Evils were as good not seen as not 
avoided; but now he declines the way and saves his. burden. It 
were happy for perverse sinners if they could learn of this beast 
to run away from foreseen judgments. The revenging angel stands 
before us, and though we know we shall as sure die as sin, yet 
we have not the wit or grace to give back : though it be with the 
hurt of a foot to save the body, with the pain of the body to save 
the soul. 

I see what fury and stripes the impotent prophet bestows upon 
this poor beast because he will not go on, yet if he had gone on, 
himself had perished. How oft do we wish those things, the not 
obtaining whereof is mercy I We grudge to be staid in the way 
to death, and fly upon those which oppose our perdition. 

I do not (as who would not expect 1) see Balaam's hair stand 
upright, nor himself alighting, and appalled at this monster of ' 
miracles; but, as if no new thing had happened, he returns 
words to the beast full of anger, void of admiration ; whether his 
trade of sorcering had so inured him to receive voices from his 
familiars in shape of beasts, that this event seemed not strange 
to him ; or whether his rage and covetousness had so transported 
him, that he had no leisure to observe the unnatural unusualness 
of the event. Some men make nothing of those things which 
overcome others with horror and astonishment. 

I hear the angel of God taking notice of the cruelty of Balaam 
to his beast: his first words to the unmerciful prophet are in 
expostulating of his wrong. We little think it, but God shall call 
us to an account for the unkind and cruel usages of his poor mute 
creatures. He hath made us lords, not tyrants ; owners, not tor- 
mentors : He that hath given us leave to kill them for our use, 

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cont. in. Of Balaam. 175 

hath not given us leave to abuse them at our pleasure ; they are 
so our drudges that they are our fellows by creation. It was a 
sign the magician would easily wish to strike Israel with a curse, 
when he wished a sword to strike his harmless beast. It is ill 
falling into those hands whom beasts find unmerciful. 

Notwithstanding these rubs, Balaam goes on, and is not afraid 
to ride on that beast whose voice he hath heard ; and now posts 
are sped to Balak with the news of so welcome a guest. He that 
sent princes to fetch him, comes himself on the way to meet him : 
although he can say, Am not I able to promote thee f yet he gives 
this high respect to him as his better, from whom he expected 
the promotion of himself and his people. the honour that hath 
been formerly done by heathens to them that have borne but the 
face of prophets ! I shame and grieve to compare the times and 
men: only, God, be thou merciful to the contempt of thy 

As if nothing needed but the presence of Balaam, the super- 
stitious king (out of the joy of his hope) feasts his gods, his pro- 
phet, his princes ; and on the morrow carries him up to the high 
places of his idol. Who can doubt whether Balaam were a false 
prophet, that sees him sacrificing in the mount of Baal ? Had he 
been from the true God, he would rather have said* " Pull me 
down these altars of Baal/' than " Build me here seven others. 17 
The very place convinces him of falsehood and idolatry ; and why 
seven altars ? What needs all this pomp ? When the true God 
never required but one at once, as himself is one ; why doth the 
false prophet call for no less than seven ? as if God stood upon 
numbers ? as if the Almighty would have his power either divided 
or limited ? Here is nothing but a glorious and magnificent pre- 
tence of devotion. It hath been ever seen that the false worship- 
pers of God have made more pompous shows and fairer flourishes 
of their piety and religion than the true. 

Now when Balaam sees his seven bullocks and seven rams 
smoking upon his seven altars, he goes up higher into the mount, 
(as some counterfeit Moses,) to receive the answer of God. But 
will God meet with a sorcerer ? will he make a prophet of a 
magician ? man, who shall prescribe God what instruments to 
use ? he knows how to employ, not only saints and angels, but 
wicked men, beasts, devils, to his own glory : he that put words 
into the mouth of the ass puts words into the mouth of Balaam : 
the words do but pass from him, they are not polluted, because 

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176 Of Balaam. book vii. 

they are not his ; as the trunk through which a man speaks is not 
the more eloquent for the speech that is uttered through it. What 
a notable proclamation had the infidels wanted of God's favour to 
his people if Balaam's tongue had not been used ! How many 
shall once say, Lord, we have prophesied in thy name, that shall 
hear, Verily, I know you not I 

What madness is this in Balaam ? He that found himself con- 
stant in soliciting thinks to find God not constant in denying ; 
and, as if that infinite Deity were not the same every where, hopes 
to change success with places. Neither is that bold forehead 
ashamed to importune God again in that wherein his own mouth 
had testified an assurance of denial. The reward was in one of 
his eyes, the revenging angel in the other : I know not whether 
for the time he more loved the bribe or feared the angel. And 
while he is in this distraction his tongue blesses against his heart, 
and his heart curses against his tongue. It angers him that he 
dare not speak what he would ; and now at last, rather than lose 
his hopes, he resolves to speak worse than curses. The fear of 
God's judgments in a worldly heart is at length overcome with 
the love of gain. 

OF PHINEAS.— Numbers xxv. 

Balaam pretended an haste homeward, but he lingered so long 
that he left his bones in Midian. How justly did he perish with 
the sword of Israel, whose tongue had insensibly slain so many thou- 
sands of them ! As it is usually said of the devil, that he goes 
away in a stench, so may it be truly said of this prophet of his ; 
according to the fashion of all hypocrites, his words were good, 
his actions abominable : he would not curse, but he would advise, 
and his counsel is worse than a curse ; for his curse had hurt none 
but himself, his counsel cost the blood of twenty-four thousand 

He that had heard God speak by Balaam would not look for 
the devil in the same mouth ; and if God himself had not wit- 
nessed against him, who could believe that the same tongue which 
uttered so divine prophecies should utter so villanous and cursed 
advice ? Hypocrisy gains this of men, that it may do evil unsus- 
pected : but now he that heard what he spake in Balak's ear hath 
bewrayed and condemned his counsel and himself. 

This policy was fetched from the bottom of hell. It is not for 

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cont. iv. Of Phinehas. 177 

lack of desire that I curse not Israel : thou dost not more wish 
their destruction than I do thy wealth and honour ; but so long 
as they hold firm with God there is no sorcery against Jacob ; 
withdraw God from them, and they shall fall alone and curse 
themselves ; draw them into sin, and thou shalt withdraw God 
from them. There is no sin more plausible than wantonness. One 
fornication shall draw in another, and both shall fetch the anger 

. of God after them : send your fairest women into their tents ; their 
sight shall draw them to lust, their lust to folly, their folly to 
idolatry; and now God shall curse them for thee unasked." 
Where Balaam did speak well, there was never any prophet 

. spake more divinely ; where he spake ill, there was never any 
devil spake more desperately. 

Ill counsel seldom succeedeth not: good seed falls often out 
of the way and roots not, but the tares never light amiss. This 
project of the wicked magician was too prosperous. The daugh- 
ters of Moab come into the tents of Israel, and have captived 
those whom the Amorites and Amalekites could not resist. Our 
first mother Eve bequeathed this dowry to her daughters, that 
they should be our helpers to sin : the weaker sex is the stronger 
in this conquest : had the Moabites sent their subtlest counsellors 
to persuade the Israelites to their idol sacrifices, they had been 
repelled with scorn ; but now the beauty of their women is over- 
eloquent and successful. That which in the first world betrayed 
the sons of God hath now ensnared God's people :' it had been 
happy for Israel if Balaam had used any charms but these. As it 
is the use. of God to fetch glory to himself oat of the worst actions 
of Satan, so it is the guise of that evil one (through the just per- 
mission of the Almighty) to raise advantage to himself from the 
fairest pieces of the workmanship of God : no one means hath so 
much enriched hell as beautiful faces. 

All idols are abominable ; but this of Baal- poor was, besides 
the superstition of it, beastly ; neither did Baal ever put on a 
form of so much shame as this ; yet very Israelites are drawn to 
adore it. When lust hath blinded the eyes,, it carries a roan whi- 
ther it lists, even beyond all differences of sin. A man besotted 
with filthy desires is fit for any villany. 

Sin is no less crafty than Satan himself : give him but room 
in the eye, and he will soon be possessed of body and soul. These 
Israelites first saw the faces of these Moabites and Midianites, 
then they grew to like their presence, from thence to take plea- 


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178 Of Phinelias. book vh. 

sure in their feasts ; from their boards they are drawn to their 
beds, from their beds to their idols, and now they are joined to 
Baal-peor and separated from God. Bodily fornication is the way 
to spiritual : if we have made idols of flesh, it is just to be given 
up to idols of wood and stones. If we have not grace to resist 
the beginnings of sin, where shall we stay ? If our foot slip into 
the mouth of hell, it is a miracle to stop ere we come to the 

Well might God be angry to see his people go a whoring in 
this double fornication ; neither doth he smother his wrath, but 
himself strikes with his plague, and bids Moses strike with the 
sword. He strikes the body and bids Moses strike the head. It . 
had been as easy for him to plague the rulers as the vulgar, and 
one would think these should be more properly reserved for his 
immediate hand; but these he leaves to the sword of human 
authority, that he might win awe to his own. ordinances. As 
the sins of great men are exemplary, so are their punishments. 
Nothing procures so much credit to government as strict and im- 
partial executions of great and noble offenders. Those whom their 
sins have embased deserve no favour in the punishment. As God 
knows no honour, no royalty in matter of sin, no more may his 
deputies. Contrarily, connivance at the outrages of the mighty 
cuts the sinews of any state ; neither doth any thing make good 
laws more contemptible than the making difference of offenders ; 
that small sacrileges should be punished when great ones ride in 
triumph. If good ordinations turn once to spiders' webs, which 
are broken through by the bigger flies, no hand will fear to sweep 
them down. 

God was angry; Moses and all good Israelites grieved; the 
heads hanged up ; the people plagued : yet behold, one of the 
princes of Israel fears not to brave God and his ministers in that 
sin which he sees so grievously revenged in others. I can never 
wonder enough at the impudence of this Israelite. Here is for- 
nication, an odious crime, and that of an Israelite, whose name 
challenges holiness ; yea, of a prince of Israel, whose practice is 
a rule to inferiors, and that with a woman of Midian, with whom 
even a chaste contract had been unlawful; and that with con- 
tempt of all government ; and that in the face of Moses and all 
Israel ; and that in a time of mourning and judgment for that 
same offence. Those that have once passed the bounds of mo- 
desty soon grow shameless in thoir sins. While sin hidos itself 

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cont. iv. Of Phinehas. 179 

in corners there is yet hope ; for where there is shame there is 
a possibility of grace ; but when once it dare look upon the son, 
and send challenges to authority, the case is desperate, and ripe 
for judgment. 

This great Simeonite thought he might sin by privilege ; he 
goes, as if he said, " Who dares control me ?" His nobility hath 
raised him above the reach of correction. Commonly the sins of 
the mighty are not without presumption, and therefore their ven- 
geance is no less than their security ; and their punishment is so 
much greater as their conceit of impunity is greater. 

All Israel saw this bold lewdness of Zimri, but their hearts and 
eyes were so full of grief, that they had not room enough for in- 
dignation. Phinehas looked on with the rest, but with other af- 
fections. When he saw this defiance bidden to God, and this 
insultation upon the sorrow of his people, that while they were 
wringing their hands, a proud miscreant durst outface their hu- 
miliation with his wicked dalliance ; his heart boils with a desire 
of an holy revenge ; and now that hand which was used to a 
censer and sacrificing knife, takes up his javelin, and with one 
stroke joins these two bodies in their death which were joined in 
their sin ; and in the very flagrance of their lust makes a new 
way for their souls to their own place. 

O noble and heroical courage of Phinehas ! which, as it was 
rewarded of God, so is worthy to be admired of men. He doth 
not stand casting of scruples : " Who am I to do this ? the son 
of the high priest ; my place is all for peace and mercy ; it is for 
me to sacrifice, and pray for the sin of the people, not to sacrifice 
any of the people for their sin. My duty calls me to appease the 
anger of God what I may, not to revenge the sins of men ; to 
pray for their conversion, not to work the confusion of any sinner. 
And who are these? Is not the one a great prince in Israel, the 
Qther a princess of Midian ? Can the death of two so famous per- 
sons go unrevenged? Or if it be safe and fit, why doth my uncle 
Moses rather shed his own tears than their blood ? I will mourn * 
with the rest, let them revenge whom it concerneth." But the 
zeal of God hath barred out all weak deliberations ; and he holds 
it now both his duty and his glory to be an executioner of so 
shameless a pair of offenders. 

God loves this heat of zeal in all the carriages of his servants ; 
and if it transport us too far, he pardoneth the errors of our 
fervency, rather than the indifferences of lukewarmness. As these 

n % 

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180 Of Phinehas. book vii. 

two were more beasts than any that ever he sacrificed, so the 
shedding of their blood was the acceptablest sacrifice that ever he 
offered unto Ood ; for both all Israel is freed from the plague, 
and all his posterity have the priesthood entailed to them so long 
as the Jews were a people. Next to our prayers, there is no better 
sacrifice than the blood of malefactors ; not as it is theirs, but as 
it is shed by authority. Governors are faulty of those sins they 
punish not. There can be no better sight in any state than to 
see a malefactor at the gallows. It is not enough for us to stand 
gazing upon the wickedness of the times (yea, although with 
tears) unless we endeavour to redress it : especially public per- 
sons carry not their javelin in their hand for nought. 

Every one is ready to ask Phinehas for his commission ; and 
those that are willing to salve up the act plead extraordinary 
instinct from God, who, no doubt, would not have accepted that 
which himself wrought not. But what need I run so far for this 
warrant, when I hear God say to Moses, Hang up aU the heads 
of Israel; and Moses say to the under-rulers, Every one slay hie 
men that are joined to BaaLpeor t Every Israelite is now made 
a magistrate for this execution ; and why not Phinehas amongst 
the rest? Doth his priesthood exempt him from the blood of 
sinners ? How then doth Samuel hew Agag in pieces ? Even those 
may make a carcass which may not touch it. And if Levi got 
the priesthood by shedding the blood of idolaters, why may it not 
stand with that priesthood to spill the blood of a fornicator and 
idolater ? Ordinary justice will bear out Phinehas in this act : it is 
not for every man to challenge this office which this double pro- 
clamation allowed to Phinehas. All that private persons can do 
is either to lift up their hands to heaven for redress of sin, or to 
lift up their hands against the sin, not against the person. Who 
made thee a judge t is a lawful question if it meet with a person 

Now the sin is punished the plague ceaseth. The revenge of 
God sets out ever after the sin ; but if the revenge of men, which 
K commonly comes later, can overtake it, God gives over the chase. 
How oft hath the infliction of a less punishment avoided a greater ! 
There are none so good friends to the state as courageous and 
impartial ministers of justice. These are the reconcilers of God 
and the people, more than the prayers of them that sit still and 
do nothing. 

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cont. v. The death of Moses. ' 181 

THE DEATH OF MOSES.— Numbers xxvii. Deut. xxxiv. 

After many painful and perilous enterprises, now is Moses 
drawing to his rest. He hath brought his Israelites from Egypt 
through the sea and wilderness, within the sight of their promised 
land ; and now himself must take possession of that land whereof 
Canaan was but a type. When we have done that we came for, 
it is time for us to be gone. This earth is made only for action, 
not for fruition : the services of God's children should be ill re- 
warded if they must stay here always. Let no man think much 
that those are fetched away which are faithful to God ; they should 
not change if it were not to their preferment. It is our folly that 
we would have good men live for ever, and account it an hard 
measure that they were. He that lends them to the world owes 
them a better turn than this earth can pay them. It were inju- 
rious to wish that goodness should hinder any man from glory. 
So is the death of God's saints precious, that it is certain. 

Moses must go up to mount Nebo and die. The time, the 
place, and every circumstance of his dissolution is determined. 
That one dies in the field, another in his bed, another in the 
water, one in a foreign nation, another in his own, is fore-decreed in 
heaven. And though we hear it not vocally, yet God hath called 
every iDan by his name, and saith, " Die thou there." One man 
seems to die casually, another by an inexpected violence; both 
fall by a destiny, and all is set down to us by an eternal decree. 
He that brought us into the world will carry us out according to 
his own purposes. 

Moses must ascend up to the hill to die. He received his 
charge for Israel upon the hill of Sinai, and now he delivers up 
his charge on the hill of Nebo. His brother Aaron died on one 
hill, he on another. As Christ was transfigured on an hill, so 
was this excellent type of his ; neither doubt I but that these hills 
were types to them of that heaven whither they were aspiring. 
It is the goodness of our God that he will not have his children 
die any where, but where they may see the land of promise be- 
fore them ; neither can they depart without much comfort to have 
seen it ; contrarily, a wicked man, that looks down, and sees hell 
before him, how can he choose but find more horror in the end of 
death, than in the way? 

How familiarly doth Moses hear of his end ! It is no more 
betwixt God and Moses, but Go up and die. If he had invited 

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182 The death of Moses. book vn. 

him to a meal, it could not have been in a more sociable compel- 
lation : no otherwise than he said to his other prophet, Up and 
eat. It is neither harsh, nor news to God's children, to hear or 
think of their departure: to them death hath lost his horror, 
through acquaintance: those faces which at first sight seemed 
ill-favoured, by oft viewing grow out of dislike : they have so 
oft thought and resolved of the necessity and of the issue of 
their dissolution, that they cannot hold it either strange or un- 
welcome : he that hath had such entire conversation with God 
cannot fear to go to him. Those that know him not, or know 
that he will not know them, no marvel if they tremble. 

This is no small favour, that God warns Moses of his end : he 
that had so oft made Moses of his counsel what he meant to do 
with Israel, would not now do ought with himself without his 
knowledge. Expectation of any main event is a great advantage 
to a wise heart : if the fiery chariot had fetched away Elias un- 
looked for, we should have doubted of the favour of his trans- 
portation : it is a token of judgment to come as a thief in the 
night. God forewarns one by sickness, another by age, another 
by his secret instincts, to prepare for their end : if our hearts be 
not now in a readiness, we are worthy to be surprised. 

But what is this I hear? Displeasure mixed with love? and 
that to so faithful a servant as Moses ? He must but see the land 
of promise, he shall not tread upon it ; because he once, long 
ago, sinned in distrusting. Death, though it were to him an en- 
trance into glory, yet shall be also a chastisement of his infi- 
delity. How many noble proofs had Moses given of his courage 
and strength of faith ! how many gracious services had he done 
to his Master ! Tet for one act of distrust he must be gathered 
to his fathers. All our obediences cannot bear out one sin against 
God : how vainly shall we hope to make amends to God for our 
former trespasses by our better behaviour, when Mosep hath this 
one sin laid in his dish, after so many and worthy testimonies of 
his fidelity ! When we have forgotten our sins, yet God remem- 
bers them ; and, although not in anger, yet he calls for our ar- 
rearages. Alas ! what shall become of them with whom God hath 
ten thousand greater quarrels; that amongst many millions of 
sins have scattered some few acts of formal services ? If Moses 
must die the first death for one fault, how shall they escape the 
second for sinning always ? Even where God loves, he will not 
wink at sin ; and if he do not punish, yet he will chastise : how 

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cont. v. The death of Moses. 188 

much less can it stand with that eternal Justice to let wilful sin- 
ners escape judgment ! 

It might have been just with God to have reserved the cause 
to himself; and in a generality to have told Moses that his sin 
must 9 shorten his journey: but it is more of mercy than justice 
that his children shall know why they smart ; that God may at 
once both justify himself and humble them for their particular 
offences: those to whom he means* vengeance have not the sight 
of their sins till they be past repentance. Complain not that God 
upbraids thee with thy old sins, whosoever thou art ; but know, 
it is an argument of love; whereas concealment is a fearful sign 
of a secret dislike from God. 

But what was that noted sin which deserves this late exprobra- 
tion, and shall carry so sharp a chastisement? Israel murmured 
for water : God bids Moses take the rod in his hand, and speak 
to the rock to give water; Moses, instead of speaking, and 
striking the rock with his voice, strikes it with the rod : here 
was his sin; an overreaching of his commission; a fearfulness 
and distrust of the effect. The rod, he knew, was approved for 
miracles ; he knew not how powerful his voice might be ; there- 
fore he did not speak, but strike, and he struck twice for failing ; 
and now, after these many years, he is stricken for it of God. It 
is a dangerous thing in divine matters to go beyond our warrant : 
those things which seem trivial to men are heinous in the account 
of God ; any thing that savours of infidelity displeases him more 
than some other crimes of morality. Tet the moving of the rod 
was but a diverse thing from the moving of the tongue ; it was 
not contrary ; he did not forbid the one, but he commanded the 
other : this was but across the stream, not against it : where shall 
they appear whose whole courses are quite contrary to the com- 
mandments of God ? 

Upoji the act done, God passed the sentence of restraining 
Moses with the rest from the promised land; now he performs 
it. Since that ■ time Moses had many favours from God; all 
which could not reverse this decreed castigation ; that everlasting 
rule is grounded upon the very essence of God, I am Jehovah, I 
change not. Our purposes are as ourselves, fickle and uncertain ; 
his are certain and immutable : some things which he reveals he 
alters ; nothing that he hath decreed. 

Besides the soul of Moses (to the glory whereof God princi- 
pally intended this change); 1 find him careful of two things ; his 

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184 The death of Moses. % book vii. 

successor, and his body: Moses moves for the one; the other 
God doth unasked. He that was so tender over the welfare of 
Israel in his life would not slacken his care in death : he takes 
no thought for himself, for he knew how gainful an exchange he 
must make ; all his care is for his charge. Some envious natures 
desire to be missed when they must go ; and wish that the weak- 
ness or want of a successor may be the foil of their memory and 
honour : Moses is in a contrary disposition ; it sufficeth him not 
to find contentment in his own happiness, unless he may have an 
assurance that Israel shall prosper after him. Carnal minds are 
all for themselves, and make use of government only for their 
own advantages ; but good hearts look ever to the future good of 
the church, above their own, against their own. 

Moses did well to show his good affection to his people ; but 
in his silence God would have provided for his own: he that 
called him from the sheep of Jethro will not want a governor for 
his chosen to succeed him; God hath fitted him whom he will 
choose. Who can be more meet than he whose name, whose ex- 
perience, whose graces might supply, yea revive Moses to the 
people? He that searched the land before was fittest to guide 
Israel into it; he that was endued with the Spirit of God was the 
fittest deputy for God ; he that abode still in the tabernacle of 
Ohel-moed a , as God's attendant, was fittest to be sent forth from 
him as his lieutenant : but, O the unsearchable counsel of the 
Almighty ! aged Caleb and all the princes of Israel are passed 
over, and Joshua, the servant of Moses, is chosen to succeed his 
master : the eye of God is not blinded either with gifts, or with 
blood, or with beauty, or with strength ; but, as in his eternal elec- 
tions, so in his temporary, he will have mercy on whom he will. 

And well doth Joshua succeed Moses. The very acts of God 
of old were allegories: where the law ends, there the Saviour 
begins ; we may see the land of promise in the law ; only Jesus, 
the Mediator of the new testament, can bring us into it. So was 
he a servant of the law, that he supplies all the defects of the 
law to us : he hath taken possession of the promised land for us ; 
he shall carry us from this wilderness to our rest. 

It is no small happiness to any state when their governors are 

chosen by worthiness, and such elections are ever from God; 

whereas the intrusions of bribery and unjust favour or violence, 

as they make the commonwealth miserable, so they come from 

a [™io bnk "The tabernacle of the congregation." Ezod. xxxiii. 7.] 

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cont. v. The death of Moses. 185 

him which is the author of confusion ; woe be to that state that 
suffers it ; woe be to that person that works it ! for both of them 
have sold themselves, the one to servitude, the other to sin. 

I do not hear Moses repine at God's choice, and grudge that 
this sceptre of his is not hereditary; but he willingly lays hands 
upon his servant to consecrate him for his successor. Joshua 
was a good man, yet he bad some sparks of envy; for when 
Eldad and Medad prophesied, he stomached it ; My lord Moses, 
forbid tliem. He that would not abide two of the elders of 
Israel to prophesy, how would he have allowed his servant to sit 
in his throne? What an example of meekness (besides all the 
rest) doth he here see in this last act of his master, who without 
all murmuring resigns his chair of state to his page I It is all one 
to a gracious heart whom God will please to advance : emulation and 
discontentment are the affections of carnal minds. Humility goes 
ever with regeneration ; which teaches a man to think, whatever 
honour be put upon others, " I have more than I am worthy of." 

The same God, that by the hands of his angels carried up the 
soul of Moses to his glory, doth also by the hand of his angels 
carry his body down into the valley of Moab, to his sepulture. 
Those hands which had taken the law from him, those eyes that 
had seen his presence, those lips that had conferred so oft with 
him, that face that did so shine with the beams of his glory, may 
not be neglected when the soul is gone : he that took charge of 
his birth and preservation in the reeds, takes charge of his car- 
riage out of the world : the care of God ceaseth not over his own, 
either in death or after it. How justly do we take care of the 
comely burials of our friends, when God himself gives us this 
example I 

If the ministry of man had been used in this grave of Moses, 
the place might have been known to the Israelites : but God 
purposely conceals this treasure both from men and devils, that 
so he might both cross their curiosity and prevent their super- 
stition. If God had loved the adoration of his servants' reliques, 
he could never have had a fitter opportunity for this devotion 
than in the body of Moses. It is folly to place religion in those 
things which God hides on purpose from us ; it is not the pro- 
perty of the Almighty to restrain us from good. 

Yet that divine hand, which locked up this treasure and kept 
the key of it, brought it forth afterwards glorious. In the 
transfiguration, this body, which was hid in the valley of Moab, 


186 Rahab. 


appeared in the hill of Tabor ; that we may know these bodies of 
ours are not lost, but laid up ; and shall as sure be raised in 
glory, as they are laid down in corruption. We know that when 
he shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory. 





J. H. 


RAHAB. — Joshua ii. 

Joshua was one of those twelve searchers which were sent to 
view the land of Canaan, yet now he addresses two spies for a 
more particular survey : those twelve were only to inquire of the 
general condition of the people and land ; these two, to find out 
the best entrance into the next part of the country, and into their 
greatest city. Joshua himself was full of God's Spirit, and had 
the oracle of God ready for his direction ; yet now he goes not 
to the propitiatory for consultation, but to the spies. Except 
where ordinary means fail us, it is no appealing to the immediate 
help of God : we may not seek to the postern, but where the 
common gate is shut. It was promised Joshua that he should 
lead Israel into the promised land ; yet he knew it was unsafe to 
presume. The condition of his provident care was included in 
that assurance of success. Heaven is promised to us, but not to 
our carelessness, infidelity, disobedience. He that hath set this 
blessed inheritance before us presupposes our wisdom, faith, ho- 

Either force or policy are fit to be used unto Canaanites. He 

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cont. i. Rahab. 187 

that would be happy in this spiritual warfare must know where 
the strength of his enemy lieth, and must frame his guard ac- 
cording to the other's assault. It is a great advantage to a 
Christian to know the fashion of Satan's onsets, that he may the 
more easily compose himself to resist. Many a soul hath mis- 
carried through the ignorance of his enemy, which had not 
perished if it had well known that the weakness of Satan stands 
in our faith. 

The spies can find no other lodging but Rahab's house. She 
was a victualler by profession, and (as those persons and trades, 
by reason of the commonness of entertainment, were amongst 
the Jews infamous by name and note) she was Rahab the harlot : 
I will not think she professed filthiness ; only her public trade, 
through the corruption of those times, hath cast upon her this 
name of reproach ; yea, rather will I admire her faith, than make 
excuses for her calling. How many women in Israel, now Miriam 
was dead, have given such proofs of their knowledge and faith ? 
How noble is that confession which she makes of the power and 
truth of God ! yea, I see here not only a disciple of God, but a 
prophetess. Or if she had once been public, as her house was ; 
now she is a chaste and worthy convert ; and so approved her- 
self for honest and wise behaviour, that she is thought worthy to 
be the great-grandmother of David's father ; and the holy line of 
the Messias is not ashamed to admit her into that happy pedigree. 
The mercy of our God doth not measure us by what we were. 
It would be wide with the best of us, if the eye of God should look 
backward to our former estate : there he should see Abraham an 
idolater, Paul a persecutor, Manasses a necromancer, Mary Mag- 
dalen a courtesan, and the best vile enough to be ashamed of 
himself. Who can despair of mercy, that sees even Rahab fetched 
into the blood of Israel and line of Christ ? 
. If Rahab had received these spies but as unknown passen- 
gers, with respect to their money and not to their errand, it had 
been no praise ; for in such cases the thank is rather to the guest 
than to the host ; but now she knew their purpose : she knew 
that the harbour of them was the danger of her own life, and yet 
she hazards this entertainment. Either faith or friendship are never 
tried but in extremities. To show countenance to the messengers 
of God while the public face of the state smiles upon them is but 
a courtesy of course ; but to hide our own lives in theirs when 
they are persecuted is an act that looks for a reward. These 

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188 Rahab. book viii. 

times need not our favour, we know not what may come : alas I 
how likely is it they would shelter them in danger which respect 
them not in prosperity ? 

All intelligences of state come first to the court : it most con- 
cerns princes to hearken after the affairs of each other. If this 
poor innholder knew of the sea dried up before Israel, and of the 
discomfiture of Og and Sehon, surely this rumour was stale with 
the king of JerichG : he had heard it, and feared ; and yet, instead 
of sending ambassadors for peace, he sends pursuivants for the 
spies. The spirit of Rahab melted with that same report where- 
with the king of Jericho was hardened : all make not one use of 
the messages of the proceedings of God. 

The king sends to tell her what she knew : she had not hid 
''them if she had not known their errand. I know not whether 
first to wonder at the gracious provision of God for the spies, or 
at the strong faith which he hath wrought in the heart of a weak 
woman : two strangers, Israelites, spies (and noted for all these) 
in a foreign, in an hostile land, have a safe harbour provided 
them, even amongst their enemies ; in Jericho, at the very court- 
gate, against the proclamation of a king, against the endeavours 
of the people. Where cannot the God of heaven either find or 
raise up friends to his own causes and servants ? 

Who could have hoped for such faith in Rahab ? which con- 
temned her life for the present that she might save it for the 
future ; neglected her own king and country for strangers which 
she never saw; and more feared the destruction of that city, 
before it knew that it had an adversary, than the displeasure of 
her king in the mortal revenge of that which he would have ac- 
counted treachery. She brings them up to the roof of her house, 
and hides them with stalks of flax : that plant which was made to 
hide the body from nakedness and shame, now is used to hide the 
spies from death. Never could these stalks have been improved 
so well with all her housewifery, after they were bruised, as now, 
before they were fitted to her wheel : of these she hath woven an 
everlasting web both of life and propagation. And nowtber 
tongue hides them no less than her hand : her charity was good, 
her excuse was not good. Evil may not be done that good may 
came of it : we may do any thing but sin for promoting a good 
cause ; and if not in so main occasions, how shall God take it that 
we are not dainty of falsehoods in trifles ? 

No man will look that these spies could take any sound sleep 

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cont. i. Rahab. 189 

in these beds of stalks: it is enough for them that they lire, 
though they rest not. And now when they hear Rahab coming 
up the stairs, doubtless they looked for an executioner ; but behold 
she comes up with a message better than their sleep, adding to 
their protection advice for their future safety ; whereto she makes 
way by a faithful report of God's former wonders, and the pro- 
sent disposition of her people, and by wise capitulations for the 
life and security of her family. The news of God's miraculous 
proceedings for Israel have made her resolve of their success and 
the ruins of Jericho. Then only do we make a right use of the 
works of God, when by his judgments upon others we are warned 
to avoid our own. He intends his acts for precedents of justice. 

The parents and brethren of Rahab take their rest : they are 
not troubled with the fear and care of the success of Israel, but 
securely go with the current of the present condition. She 
watches for them all, and breaks her midnight sleep to prevent 
their last. One wise and faithful person does well in an house : 
where all are careless there is no comfort but in perishing toge- 
ther. It had been an ill nature in Rahab if she had been content 
to be saved alone : that her love might be a match to her faith, 
she covenants for all her family, and so returns life to those of 
whom she received it. Both the bond of nature and of grace 
will draw all ours to the participation of the same good with 

It bad been never the better for the spies, if after this night's 
lodging they had been turned out of doors to the hazard of the 
way ; for so the pursuers had light upon them, and prevented 
their return with their death. Rahab's counsel therefore was 
better than her harbour; which sent them (no doubt with vic- 
tuals in their hands) to seek safety in the mountains till the 
heat of that search were past. He that hath given us charge of 
our lives will not suffer us to cast them upon wilful adventures. 
Had not these spies hid themselves in those desert hills, Israel 
had wanted directors for their enterprises. There is nothing 
more expedient for the church, than that some of God's faithful 
messengers should withdraw themselves, and give way to perse- 
cutions. Courage in those that must die is not a greater ad- 
vantage to the gospel, than a prudent retiring of those which 
may survive to maintain and propagate it. 

It was a just and reasonable transaction betwixt them, that her 
life should be saved by them which had saved theirs : they owe no 

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190 Rahab. 


less to her, to whom they were not so much guests aa prisoners. 
And now they pass not their promise only, but their oath. They 
were strangers to Rahab, and, for ought she knew, might have 
been godless ; yet she dares trust her life upon their oath. So 
sacred and inviolable hath this bond ever been, that an heathen 
woman thought herself secure upon the oath of an Israelite. 

Neither is she more confident of their oath taken, than they 
are careful both of taking and performing it So far are they 
from desiring to salve up any breach of promise by equivocation, 
that they explain all conditions, and would prevent all possibili- 
ties of violation. All Rahab's family must be gathered into her 
house ; and that red cord, which was an instrument of their deli- 
very, must be a sign of hers. Behold, this is the saving colour : 
the destroying angel sees the doorcheeks of the Israelites 
sprinkled with red, and passes them over : the warriors of Israel 
see the window of Rahab dyed with red, and save her family 
from the common destruction. If our souls have this tincture of 
the precious blood of our Saviour upon our doors or windows, we 
are safe. 

But if any one of the brethren of Rahab shall fly from this 
red flag, and rove about the city, and not contain himself under 
that roof which hid the spies, it is in vain for him to tell the 
avengers that he is Rahab's brother : that title will not save him 
in the street ; within doors it will. If we will wander out of the 
limits that God hath set us, we cast ourselves out of his protec- 
tion ; we cannot challenge the benefit of his gracious preserva- 
tion, and our most precious redemption, when we fly out into the 
byways of our own hearts, not for innocence, but for safoty and 
harbour. The church is that house of Rahab, which is saved 
when all Jericho shall perish. While we keep us in the lists 
thereof, we cannot miscarry through misopinion ; but when once 
we run out of it, let us look for judgment from God, and error in 
our own judgment* 

JORDAN DIVIDED.— Joshua iii, iv. 

The two spies returned with news of the victory that should 

be. I do not hear them say, " The land is unpeopled, or the people 

are unfurnished with arms ; unskilful in the discipline of war ; 

but, They faint because of its ; therefore their land is ours. 

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cont. ii. Jordan divided. 191 

Either success or discomfiture begins ever at the heart. A man's 
inward disposition doth more than presage the event. As a man 
raises up his own heart before his fall, and depresses it before his 
glory; so God raises it up before his exaltation, and casts it 
down before his ruin. It is no otherwise in our spiritual con- 
flicts : if Satan see us once faint, he gives himself the day. There 
is no way to safety, but that our hearts be the last that shall 
yield. That which the heathens attributed to Fortune, we may 
justly to the hand of God ; that he speedeth those that are for- 
ward. All the ground that we lose is given to our adversaries. 

This news is brought but over-night ; Joshua is on his way by 
morning, and prevents the sun for haste. Delays, whether in 
the business of God or our own, are hateful and prejudicial. 
Many a one loses the land of promise by lingering : if we neglect 
God's time, it is just with him to cross us in ours. 

Joshua hastens till he have brought Israel to the verge of the 
promised land. Nothing parts them now but the river of Jordan. 
There he stays a time : that the Israelites might feed themselves 
a while with the sight of that which they should afterwards enjoy. 
That which they had been forty years in seeking may not be 
seized upon too suddenly : God loves to give us cools and heats 
in our desires ; and will so allay our joys, that their fruition hurt 
us not. He knows, that as it is in meats, the long forbearance 
whereof causes a surfeit when we come to full feed, so it fares in 
the contentments of the mind ; therefore he feeds us not with the 
dish, but with the spoon; and will have us neither cloyed nor 
famished. If the mercy of God have brought us within sight of 
heaven, let us be content to pause a while, and upon the banks of 
Jordan fit ourselves for our entrance. 

Now that Israel is brought to the brim of Canaan, the cloud 
is vanished which led them all the way ; and as soon as they have 
but crossed Jordan, the manna ceaseth which nourished them all 
the way. The cloud and manna were for their passage, not for 
their rest ; for the wilderness, not for Canaan. It were as easy 
for God to work miracles always; but he knows that custom 
were the way to make them no miracles. He goes byways but 
till he have brought us into the road, and then he refers us to 
his ordinary proceedings. That Israelite should have been very 
foolish that would still have said, " I will not stir till I see the 
cloud ; I will not cat unless I may have that food of angels/ 1 
Wherefore serves the ark but for their direction? wherefore 

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192 Jordan divided. book viii. 

serves the wheat of Canaan but for bread? So fond is that 
Christian that will still depend upon expectation of miracles after 
the fulness of God's kingdom. If God bear us in his arms when 
we are children, yet when we are well grown he looks we should 
go on our own feet : it is enough that he upholds us, though he 
carry us not. 

Ho that hitherto had gone before them in the cloud doth now 
go before them in the ark ; the same guide in two diverse signs 
of his presence. The cloud was for Moses', the ark for Joshua's 
time ; the cloud was fit for Moses ; the law offered us Christ, 
but enwrapped in many obscurities. If he were seen in the 
cloud, he was heard from the cover of the ark. Why was it 
the ark of the testimony, but because it witnessed both his pre- 
sence and love ? And within it were his word, the law ; and his 
sacrament, the manna. Who can wish a better guide than the 
God of heaven in his word and sacraments? Who can know the 
way into the land of promise so well as he that owns it? And 
what means can better direct us thither than those of his in- 
stitution ? 

That ark, which before was as the heart, is now as the head ; it 
was in the midst of Israel while they camped in the desert; now 
when the cloud is removed, it is in the front of the army ; that as 
before they depended upon it for life, so now they should for di- 
rection. It must go before them on the shoulders of the sons of 
Levi : they must follow it, but within sight, not within breathing. 
The Levites may not touch the ark, but only the bars : the Is- 
raelites may not approach nearer than a thousand paces to it. 
What awful respects doth God require to be given unto the testi- 
monies of his presence ! Uzzah paid dear for touching it, the 
men of Bethshemesh for looking into it. It is a dangerous thing 
to be too bold with the ordinances of God. Though the Israelites 
were sanctified, yet they might not come near either the mount 
of Sinai when the law was delivered, or the ark of the covenant 
wherein the law was written. How fearful' shall their estate be, 
that come with unhallowed hearts and hands to the word of the 
gospel, and the true manna of the evangelical sacrament ! As we 
use to say of the court and of fire, so may we of these divine in- 
stitutions, we freeze if we be far off from them ; and if we be 
more near than befits us, we burn. Under the law we might 
look at Christ aloof, now under the gospel we may come near 
him : he calls us to him ; yea, he enters into us. 

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cont. ii. Jordan divided. 193 

Neither was it only for reverence that the ark must be, not 
stumbled at, but waited on, afar ; but also for convenience, both 
of sight and passage : those things that are near us, though they 
be less, fill our eye ; neither could so many thousand eyes see the 
same object upon a level, but by distance. It would not content 
God that one Israelite should tell another, " Now the ark goes, 
now it turns, now it stands ;" but he would have every one his 
own witness. What can be so comfortable to a good heart as to 
see the pledges of God's presence and favour? To hear of the 
lovingkindnesses of God is pleasant, but to behold and feel the evi- 
dences of his mercy is unspeakably delectable : hence the saints of 
God, not contenting themselves with faith, have still prayed for 
sight and fruition, and mourned when they have wanted it. What 
an happy prospect hath God set before us, of Christ Jesus cruci- 
fied for us, and offered unto us ! 

Ere God will work a miracle before Israel, they have charge to 
be sanctified. There is an holiness required, to make us either 
patients or beholders of the great works of God ; how much more 
when we should be actors in his sacred services I There is more 
use of sanctification when we must present something to God, 
than when he must do aught to us. 

The same power that divided the Red sea before Moses divides 
Jordan before Joshua ; that they might see the ark no less ef- 
fectual than the cloud, and the hand of God as present with 
Joshua to bring them into Canaan, as it was with Moses to bring 
them out of Egypt. 

The bearers of the ark had need be faithful ; they must first 
set their foot into the streams of Jordan, and believe that it will 
give way : the same faith that led Peter upon the water must 
carry them into it There can be no Christian without belief in 
God : but those that are near to God in his immediate services 
must go before others no less in believing than they do in 

The waters know their Maker : that Jordan which flowed with 
full streams when Christ went into it to be baptized, now gives 
way when the same God must pass through it in state : then 
there was use of his water, now of his sand. 

I hear no news of any rod to strike the waters : the presence 
of the ark of the Lord God, the Lord of all the world, is sign 
enough to these waves ; which now, as if a sinew were broken, 
run back to their issues, and dare not so much as wet the feet 


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194 Jordan divided. book viii. 

of the priests that bore it; What ailed thee, sea, that thou 
fleddest, and thou Jordan, that thou wert driven back? Ye 
mountains, that ye leaped like rams, and ye little hills, like 
lambs ? The earth trembled at the presence of the Lord ; at the 
presence of the God of Jacob.. 

How observant are all the creatures to the God that made 
them I How glorious a God do we serve I whom all the powers of 
the heavens and elements are willingly subject unto, and gladly 
take that nature which he pleases to give them. He could have 
made Jordan like some solid pavement of crystal for the Is- 
raelites' feet to have trod upon, but this work had not been so 
magnificent. Every strong frost congeals the water in a natural 
course ; but for the river to stand still, and run on heaps, and to 
be made a liquid wall for the passage of God's people, is for 
nature to run out of itself to do homage to her Creator. 

Now must the Israelites needs think ; " How can the Oanaanites 
stand out against us, when the seas and rivers give us way?" 
With what joy did they now trample upon the dry channel of 
Jordan, while they might see the dry deserts overcome ; the pro- 
mised land Jbefore them ; the very waters so glad of them, that 
they ran back to welcome them into Canaan ! The passages into 
our promised land are troublesome and perilous; and even at 
last offer themselves to us the main hindrances of our salvation ; 
which, after all our hopes, threaten to defeat us ; for what will it 
avail us to have passed a wilderness, if the waves of Jordan 
should swallow us up ? But the same hand that hath made the 
way hard hath made it sure : he that made the wilderness com- 
fortable will make Jordan dry ; he will master all difficulties for 
us ; and those things which we most feared will he make most 
sovereign and beneficial to us. O God, as we have trusted thee 
with the beginning, so will we with the finishing of our glory. 
Faithful art thou that hast promised, which wilt also do it. 

He that led them about in forty years' journey through the 
wilderness, yet now leads them the nearest cut to Jericho: he 
will not so much as seek for a ford for their passage, but divides 
the waters. What a sight was this to their heathen adversaries, 
to see the waters make both a lane and a wall for Israel I Their 
hearts could not choose but be broken to see the streams broken 
off for a way to their enemies. I do not see Joshua hasting 
through this channel, as if he feared lest the tide of Jordan 
should return ; but, as knowing that watery wall stronger than 

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cont. in. The siege of Jericho. 195 

the walls of Jericho, he paces slowly : and lest this miracle should 
pass away with themselves, he commands twelve stones to be 
taken out of the channel of Jordan, by twelve selected men from 
every tribe, which shall be pitched in Gilgal ; and twelve other 
stones to be set in the midst of Jordan, where the feet of the 
priests had stood with the ark; that so both land and water 
might testify the miraculous way of Israel, while it should be 
said of the one, " These stones were fetched out of the pavement 
of Jordan ;" of the other, "There did the ark rest while we 
walked dryshod through the deeps of Jordan :" of the one, 
" Jordan was once as dry as this Gilgal ;" of the other, " Those 
waves which drown these stones had so drowned us, if the power 
of the Almighty had not restrained them." Many a great work 
had God done for Israel, which was now forgotten ; Joshua there- 
fore will have monuments of God's mercy, that future ages might 
be both witnesses and applauders of the great works of their 


Joshua begins his wars with the Circumcision and Passover* 
He knew that the way to keep the blood of his people from shed- 
ding was to let out that paganish blood of their uncircumcision. 
The person must be in favour ere the work can hope to prosper : 
his predecessor Moses had like to have been slain for neglect of 
this sacrament, when he went to call the people out of Egypt ; 
he justly fears his own safety, if now he omit it, when they are 
brought into Canaan : we have no right of inheritance in the 
spiritual Canaan, the church of God, till we have received the 
sacrament of our matriculation : so soon as our covenants are re- 
newed with our Creator, we may well look for the vision of God, 
for the assurance of victory. 

What sure work did the king of Jericho think he had made I 
He blocked up the passages, barred up the gates, defended the 
walls, and did enough to keep out a common enemy : if we could 
do but this to our spiritual adversaries, it were as impossible for 
us to be surprised as for Jericho to be safe. Methinks I see how 
they called their council of war, debated of all means of defence, 
gathered their forces, trained their soldiers, set strong guards to 
the gates and walls, and now would persuade one another that 
unless Israel could fly into their city the siege was vain. Vain 

o 2 

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196 The siege ofJericlvo. book vhi. 

worldlings think their ratnpires and barricadoes can keep out the 
vengeance of God : their blindness suffers them to look no further 
than the means ; the supreme hand of the Almighty comes not 
within the compass of their fears. Every carnal heart is a Jericho 
shut up : God sits down before it and displays mercy and judg- 
ment in sight of the walls thereof; it hardens itself in a wilful 
security, and saith, Tush, I shall never be moved. 

Yet their courage and fear fight together within their walls, 
within their bosoms : their courage tells them of their own 
strength ; their fear suggests the miraculous success of this (as 
they could not but think) enchanted generation ; and now, while 
they have shut out their enemy, they have shut in their own 
terror. The most secure heart in the world hath some flashes 
of fear ; for it cannot but sometimes look out of itself and see 
what it would not. Rahab had notified that their hearts fainted ; 
and yet now their faces bewray nothing but resolution. I know 
not whether the heart or the face of an hypocrite be more false ; 
and as each of them seeks to beguile the other, so both of them 
agree to deceive the beholders. In the midst of laughter their 
heart is heavy : who would not think him merry that laughs ? yet 
their rejoicing is but in the face. Who would not think a blas- 
phemer or profane man resolutely careless? If thou hadst a 
window into his heart, thou shouldst see him tormented with 
horrors of conscience. 

Now the Israelites see those walled cities and towers whose 
height was reported to reach to heaven ; the fame whereof had 
so affrighted them ere they saw them, and were ready doubtless 
to say in their distrust, " Which way shall we scale these invin- 
cible fortifications ? What ladders, what engines shall we use to 
so great a work ?" God prevents their infidelity ; Behold, I have 
given Jericho into thine hand. If their walls had their founda- 
tions laid in the centre of the earth : if the battlements had been 
so high built that an eagle could not soar over them ; this is 
enough, / have given it thee. For on whose earth have they 
raised these castles ? Out of whose treasure did they dig those 
piles of stone ? Whence had they their strength and time to build ? 
Cannot he that gave recall his own ? O ye fools of Jericho, what if 
your walls be strong, your men valiant, your leaders skilful, your 
king wise, when God hath said, I have given thee the city f 

What can swords or spears do against the Lord of hosts? 
Without him means can do nothing ; how much less against him ! 

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cont. in. The siege of Jericho. 197 

How vain and idle is that reckoning wherein God is left out! 
Had the captain of the Lord's host drawn his sword for Jericho 
the gates might have been opened : Israel could no more have 
entered than they can now be kept from entering when the walls 
were fallen. What courses soever we take for our safety, it is 
good making God of our side : neither men nor devils can hurt 
us against him ; neither men nor angels can secure us from him. 

There was never so strange a siege as this of Jericho : here 
was no mount raised, no sword drawn, no engine planted, no 
pioneers undermining; here were trumpets sounded, but no 
enemy seen; here were armed men, but no stroke given: they 
must walk and not fight ; seven several days must they pace 
about the walls, which they may not once look over to see what 
was within. Doubtless these inhabitants of Jericho made them- 
selves merry with this sight; when they had stood six days upon 
their walls and beheld none but a walking enemy ; " What," say 
they, " could Israel find no walk to breathe them with but about 
our walls ? Have they not travelled enough in their forty years* 
pilgrimage, but they must stretch their limbs in this circle ? Surely 
if their eyes were engines our walls could not stand : we see they 
are good footmen, but when shall we try their hands ? What ! do 
these vain men think Jericho will be won with looking at? or 
do they only come to count how many paces it is about our city ! 
If this be their manner of siege, we shall have no great cause to 
fear the sword of Israel!" Wicked men think God in jest when 
he is preparing for their judgment. The Almighty hath ways 
and counsels of his own, utterly unlike to ours ; which, because our 
reason cannot reach, we are ready to condemn of foolishness and 
impossibility. With us there is no way to victory but fighting, 
and the strongest carries the spoil ; God can give victory to the 
feet as well as to the hands ; and when he will, makes weakness 
no disadvantage. What should we do but follow God through 
by-ways ; and know that he will, in spite of nature, lead us to 
our end? 

All the men of war must compass the city ; yet it was not the 
presence of the great warriors of Israel that threw down the walls 
of Jericho. Those foundations were not so slightly laid, as that 
they could not endure either a look or a march or a battery : it 
was the ark of God whose presence demolished the walls of that 
wicked city. The same power that drave back the waters of 
Jordan before, and afterwards laid Dagon on the floor, cast down 

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198 The siege ofJericlio. book viii. 

all those forts. The priests bear on their shoulders that mighty 
engine of God, before which those walls,, if they had been of 
molten brass, could not stand. Those spiritual wickednesses, yea, 
those gates of hell, which to nature are utterly invincible, by the 
power of the word of God, which he hath committed to the car- 
riage of his weak servants, are overthrown and triumphed over. 
Thy ark, God, hath been long amongst us, how is it that the 
walls of our corruptions stand still unruined? It hath gone before 
us ; his priests have carried it, we have not followed it, our hearts 
have not attended upon it; and therefore how mighty soever it is 
in itself, yet to us it hath not been so powerful as it would. 

Seven days together they walk this round; they made this 
therefore their sabbath day's journey ; and who knows whether 
the last and longest walk, which brought victory to Israel, were 
not on this day ? Not long before an Israelite is stoned to death 
for but gathering a few sticks that day; now all the host of 
Israel must walk about the walls of a large and populous city, 
and yet do not violate the day. God's precept is the rule of the 
justice and holiness of all our actions. Or was it for that revenge 
upon God's enemies is an holy work, and such as God vouchsrfes 
to privilege with his own day ? or, because when we have under- 
taken the exploits of God, he will abide no intermission till we 
have fulfilled them ? He allows us to breathe, not to break off till 
we have finished. 

It had been as easy for God to have given this success to their 
first day's walk, yea to their first pace, or their first sight of 
Jericho ; yet he will not give it until the end of their seven days'* 
toil : it is the pleasure of God to hold us both in work and in 
expectation ; and though he require our continual endeavours for 
the subduing of our corruptions during the six days of our life, 
yet we shall never find it perfectly effected till the very evening 
of our last day : in the mean time it must content us that we are 
in our walk, and that these walk cannot stand when we come to 
the measure and number of our perfection. A good heart groans 
under the sense of his infirmities, fain would be rid of them, and 
strives and prays ; but when he hath all done, until the end of 
the seventh day it cannot be : if a stone or two moulder off from 
these walls in the mean time, that is all ; but the foundations will 
not be removed till then. 

When we hear of so great a design as the miraculous winning 
of a mighty city, who would not look for some glorious means to 

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cont. in. The siege of Jericho. 199 

work it ? When we hear that the ark of God must besiege Jericho, 
who would not look for some royal equipage ? But behold, here 
seven priests must go before it with seven trumpets of rams' 
horns. The Israelites had trumpets of silver, which God had ap- 
pointed for the use of assembling and dissolving the congregation, 
for war and for peace. Now I do not hear them called for ; but 
instead thereof trumpets of rams' horns ; base for the matter, and 
not loud for sound, the shortness and equal measure of those in- 
struments could not afford either shrillness of noise or variety. 
How mean and homely are those means which God commonly 
uses in the most glorious works ! No doubt the citizens of Jericho 
answered this dull alarum of theirs from their walls with other 
instruments of louder report and more martial ostentation ; and 
the vulgar Israelites thought, " We have as clear and as costly 
trumpets as theirs ;" yet no man dares offer to sound the better 
when the worse are commanded. If we find the ordinances of God 
poor and weak, let it content us that they are of his own choosing ; 
and such as whereby he will so much more honour himself, as 
they in themselves are more inglorious. Not the outside, but the 
efficacy is it that God cares for. 

No ram of iron could have been so forcible for battery as these 
rams 1 horns ; for when they sounded long, and were seconded with 
the shout of the Israelites, all the walls of Jericho fell down at . 
once. They made the heaven ring with their shout ; but the ruin 
of those walls drowned their voice, and gave a pleasant kind of 
horror to the Israelites. The earth shook under them with the 
fall ; but the hearts of the inhabitants shook yet more : many of 
them doubtless were slain with those walls wherein they had 
trusted : a man might see death in the faces of all the rest that 
remained ; who now, being half dead with astonishment, expected 
the other half from the sword of their enemies. They had now 
neither means nor will to resist ; for if only one broach had been 
made, as it uses in other sieges, for the entrance of the enemy, 
perhaps new supplies of defendants might have made it up with 
their carcasses ; but now that at once Jericho is turned to a plain 
field, every Israelite, without resistance, might run to the next 
booty, and the throats of their enemies seemed to invite their 
swords to a despatch. 

If but one Israelite had knocked at the gates of Jericho, it 
might have been thought their hand had helped to the victory ; 
now that God may have all the glory without the show of any 

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200 The siege of Jericho. book vhi. 

rival, yea of any means, they do but walk and shout, and the 
walls give way. He cannot abide to part with any honour from 
himself : as he doth all things, so he would be acknowledged. 

They shout all at once. It is the presence of God's ark and 
our conjoined prayers that are effectual to the beating down of 
wickedness. They may not shout till they be bidden : if we will 
be unseasonable in our good actions, we may hurt and not benefit 

Every living thing in Jericho, man, woman, child, cattle, must 
die; our folly would think this merciless; but there can be no 
mercy in injustice, and nothing but injustice in not fulfilling the 
charge of God. The death of malefactors, the condemnation of 
wicked men, seem harsh to us ; but we must learn of God that 
there is a punishing mercy. Cursed be that mercy that opposes 
the God of mercy. 

Yet was not Joshua so intent upon the slaughter as not to be 
mindful of God's part, and Rahab's : first, he gives charge (under 
a curse) of reserving all the treasure for God ; then of preserving 
the family of Rahab. Those two spies, that received life from 
her, now return it to her and hers : they call at the window with 
the red cord ; and send up news of life to her, the same way 
which they received theirs: her house is no part of Jericho; 
neither may fire be set to any building of that city till Rahab 
and her family be set safe without the host. The actions of our 
faith and charity will be sure to pay us; if late, yet surely. Now 
Rahab finds what it is to believe God ; while, out of an impure 
idolatrous city, she is transplanted into the church of God, and 
made a mother of a royal and holy posterity. 

OF ACHAN.-Joahua vii. 
When the walls of Jericho were fallen, Joshua charged the 
Israelites but with two precepts ; of sparing Rahab's house, and 
of abstaining from that treasure which was anathematized to 
God ; and one of them is broken : as in the entrance to Paradise, 
but one tree was forbidden, and that was eaten of. God hath 
provided for our weakness in the paucity of commands ; but our 
innocency stands not so much in having few precepts, as in keep- 
ing those we have. So much more guilty are we in the breach 
of one, as we are more favoured in the number. 

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cont\ iv. Of Achan. 201 

They needed no command to spare no living thing in Jericho ; 
but to spare the treasure no command was enough. Imparti- 
ality of execution is easier to perform than contempt of these 
worldly things ; because we are more prone to covet for our- 
selves than to pity others. Had Joshua bidden save the men 
and divide the treasure, his charge had been more plausible 
than now to kill the men and save the treasure : or, if they must 
kill, earthly minds would more gladly shed their enemies' blood 
for a booty than out of obedience for the glory of their Maker. 
But now it is good reason, since God threw down those walls and 
not they, that both the blood of that wicked city should be spilt 
to him, not to their own revenge ; and that the treasure should 
be reserved for his use, not for theirs. Who but a miscreant can 
grudge that God should serve himself of bis own ? I cannot blame 
the rest of Israel if they were well pleased with these conditions ; 
only one Achan troubles the peace, and his sin is imputed to 
Israel: the innocence of so many thousand Israelites is not so 
forcible to excuse his one sin, as his one sin is to taint all Israel. 

A lewd man is a pernicious creature : that he damns his own 
soul is the least part of his mischief; he commonly draws venge- 
ance upon a thousand, either by the desert of his sin or by 
the infection. Who would not have hoped that the same God, 
which for ten righteous men would have spared the five wicked 
cities, should not have been content to drown one sin in the obe- 
dience of so many righteous ? But so venomous is sin, especially 
when it lights among God's people, that one dram of it is able to 
infect the whole mass of Israel. 

O righteous people of Israel, that had but one Achan 1 How 
had their late circumcision cut away the unclean foreskin of their 
disobedience I How had the blood of their paschal lamb scoured 
their souls from covetous desires ! The world was well mended 
with them, since their stubborn murmurings in the desert. Since 
the death of Moses and the government of Joshua I do not find 
them in any disorder. After that the law hath brought us under 
the conduct of the true Jesus, our sins are more rare and our lives 
more conscionable. While we are under the law, we do not so 
keep it as when we are delivered from it : our Christian freedom 
is more holy than our servitude. Then have the sacraments of 
God their due effect when their receipt purgeth us from our old 
sins, and makes our conversation clean and spiritual. 

Little did Joshua know that there was any sacrilege committed 

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202 Of Achan. book vui. 

by Israel: that sin is not half cunning enough that hath not 
learned secresy. Joshua was a vigilant leader, yet some sins 
will escape him : only that eye which is everywhere finds us out 
in our close wickedness. It is no blame to authority that some 
sins are secretly committed. The holiest congregation or family 
may be blemished with some malefactors. It is just blame that 
open sins are not punished: we shall wrong government if we 
shall expect the reach of it should be infinite. 

He therefore, which if he had known the offence would have 
sent up prayers and tears to God, now sends spies for a further 
discovery of Ai : they return with news of the weakness of their 
adversaries ; and, as contemning their paucity, persuade Joshua 
that a wing of Israel is enough to overshadow this city of Ai. 
The Israelites were so fleshed with their former victory, that 
now they think no walls or men can stand before them. Good 
success lifts up the heart with too much confidence; and while 
it dissuades men from doing their best, ofttimes disappoints them. 
With God the means can never be too weak ; without him, never 
strong enough. 

It is not good to contemn an impotent enemy. In this second 
battle the Israelites are beaten : it was not the fewness of their 
assailants that overthrew them, but the sin that lay lurking at 
home. If all the host of Israel had set upon this poor village of 
Ai, they had been all equally discomfited : the wedge of Achan 
did more fight against them than all the swords of the Canaanites. 
The victories of God go not by strength, but by innocence. 

Doubtless these men of Ai insulted in this foil of Israel, and 
said, " Lo, these are the men from whose presence the waters of 
Jordan ran back ; now they run as fast away from ours : these 
are they before whom the walls of Jericho fell down ; now they 
are fallen as fast before us." And all their neighbours took 
heart from this victory : wherein I doubt not but besides the 
punishment of Israel's sin, God intended the further obduration 
of the Canaanites ; like as some skilful player loses on purpose 
at the beginning of the game to draw on the more abetments. 
The news of their overthrow spread as far as the fame of their 
speed ; and every city of Canaan could say, " Why not we as 
well as Ai?" 

But good Joshua, that succeeded Moses no less in the care of 
God's glory than in his government, is much dejected with this 
event. He rends his clothes, falls on his face, casts dust upon 

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cont. iv, QfAchan. 208 

his head, and, as if he had learned of his master how to expos- 
tulate with God, says, What wilt thou do to thy mighty name ? 

That Joshua might see God took no pleasure to let the Israel- 
ites lie dead upon the earth before their enemies, himself is taxed 
for but lying all day upon his face before the ark. All his ex- 
postulations are answered in one word ; Oet thee up, Israel hath 
sinned. I do not hear God say, " Lie still, and mourn for the 
sin of Israel/' It is to no purpose to pray against punishment 
while the sin continues. And though God loves to be sued to, 
yet he holds our requests unseasonable till there be care had of 
satisfaction. When we have risen and redressed sin, then may 
we fall down for pardon. 

Victory is in the free hand of God, to dispose where he will ; 
and no man can marvel that the dice of war run ever with 
hazard on both sides, so as God needed not to have given any 
other reason of this discomfiture of Israel but his own pleasure : 
yet Joshua must now know that Israel, which before prevailed 
for their faith, is beaten for their sin. When we are crossed in 
just and holy quarrels, we may well think there is some secret 
evil unrepented of, which God would punish in us ; which though 
we see not, yet he so hates, that he will rather be wanting to his 
own cause than not revenge it. When we go about any enter- 
prise of God, it is good to see that our hearts be clear from any 
pollution of sin ; and when we are thwarted in our hopes, it is 
our best course to ransack ourselves, and to search for some sin 
hid from us in our bosom, but open to the view of God. 

The oracle of God, which told him a great offence was com- 
mitted, yet reveals not the person. It had been as easy for him 
to have named the man as the crime. Neither doth Joshua re- 
quest it ; but refers that discovery to such a means, as whereby 
the offender, finding himself singled out by the lot, might be 
most convinced. Achan thought he might have lien as close in 
all that throng of Israel as the wedge of gold lay in his tent. The 
same hope of secresy which moved him to sin moved him to con- 
fidence in his sin ; but now, when he saw the lot fall upon his 
tribe, he began to start a little ; when upon his family, he began 
to change countenance; when upon his household, to tremble 
and fear ; when upon his person, to be utterly confounded in him- 
self. Foolish men think to run away with their privy sins, and 
say, Tush, no eye shall see me ; but when they think themselves 
safest, God pulls them out with shame. The man that hath escaped 

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204 Of Achan. book viii. 

justice, and now is lying down in death, would think, " My shame 
shall never be disclosed ;" bu| before men and angels shall he be 
brought on the scaffold, and find confusion as sure as late. 

What needed any other evidence, when God had accused 
Achan? Yet Joshua will have the sin out of his mouth in whose 
heart it was hatched; My son, I beseech thee, give glory to 
God. Whom God had convinced as a malefactor, Joshua be- 
seeches as a son. Some hot spirit would have said, "Thou 
wretched traitor, how hast thou pilfered from thy God, and shed 
the blood of so many Israelites, and caused the host of Israel to 
show their backs with dishonour to the heathen I Now shall we 
fetch this sin out of thee with tortures, and plague thee with a 
condign death." But, like the disciple of him whose servant he 
was, he meekly entreats that which he might have extorted by 
violence ; My eon, I beseech thee. Sweetness of compeHation is 
a great help towards the good entertainment of an admonition : 
roughness and rigour many times harden those hearts which 
meekness would have melted to repentance : whether we sue, or 
convince, or reprove, little good is gotten by bitterness. De- 
testation of the sin may well stand with favour to the person; 
and these two not distinguished cause great wrong either in our 
charity or justice ; for either we uncharitably hate the creature 
of God, or unjustly affect the evil of men. Subjects are, as jthey 
are called, sons to the magistrate : all Israel was not only of the 
family, but as of the loins of Joshua. Such must be the cor- 
rections, such the provisions of governors, as for their children ; 
as again, the obedience and love of subjects must be filial. 

God had glorified himself sufficiently in finding out the wicked- 
ness of Achan ; neither need he honour from men, much less from 
sinners : they can dishonour him by their iniquities, but what re- 
compense can they give him for their wrongs ? Yet Joshua says, 
My son, give glory to Qod. Israel should now see that the tongue 
of Achan did justify God in his lot. The confession of our sins 
doth no less honour God than his glory is blemished by their 
commission. Who would not be glad to redeem the honour of 
his Redeemer with his own shame? 

The lot of God and the mild words of Joshua won Achan to 
accuse himself, ingenuously, impartially : a storm perhaps would 
not have done that which a sunshine had done. If Achan had 
come in uncalled, and before any question made, out of an honest 
remorse, had brought in his sacrilegious booty, and cast himself 

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cont. iv. Of Achan. 205 

and it at the foot of Joshua ; doubtless Israel had prospered, and 
his sin had carried away pardon : now he hath gotten thus much 
thank, that he is not a desperate sinner. God will once wring 
from the conscience of wicked men their own indictments : they 
have not more carefully hid their sin, than they shall one day 
freely proclaim their own shame. 

Achan's confession, though it were late, yet was it free and 
full ; for he doth not only acknowledge the act, but the ground 
of his sin ; I saw and coveted, and took. The eye betrayed the 
heart, and that the hand; and now all conspire in the offence. 
If we list not to flatter ourselves, this hath been the order of our 
crimes. Evil is uniform ; and beginning at the senses, takes the 
inmost fort of the soul, and then arms our own outward forces 
against us. This shall once be the lascivious man's song, "I saw, 
and coveted, and took :" this the thief s, this the idolater's, this 
the glutton's and drunkard's : all these receive their death by the 
eye. But, O foolish Achan ! with what eyes didst thou look upon 
that spoil which thy fellows saw and contemned? Why couldst 
thou not before as well as now see shame hid under that gay 
Babylonish garment ? and an heap of stones covered with those 
shekels of silver? The over-prizing and over-desiring of these 
earthly things carries us into all mischief, and hides from us the 
sight of God's judgments : whosoever desires the glory of metals, 
or of gay clothes, or honour, cannot be innocent. 

Well might Joshua have proceeded to the execution of him 
whom God and his own mouth accused ; but as one that thought 
no evidence could be too strong in a case that was capital, he 
sends to see whether there was as much truth in the confession 
as there was falsehood in the stealth. Magistrates and judges 
must pace slowly and sure in the punishment of offenders. Pre- 
sumptions are not ground enough for the sentence of death ; no, 
not in some cases the confessions of the guilty : it is no warrant 
for the law to wrong a man, that he hath before wronged him- 
self. Thtfre is less ill in sparing an offender than in punishing the 

Who would not have expected, since the confession of Achan 
was ingenuous, and his pillage still found entire, that his life 
should have been pardoned ? But here was, " Confess and die." 
He had been too long sick of this disease to be recovered. Had 
his confession been speedy and free, it had saved him. How 
dangerous it is to suffer sin to lie fretting into the soul ; which, if 

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206 Of Achaiu hook viii. 

it were washed off betimes with our repentance, could not kill us ! 
In mortal offences the course of human justice is not stayed by 
our penitence : it is well for our souls that we have repented, but 
the laws of men take not notice of our sorrow. I know not whe- 
ther the death or the tears of a malefactor be a better sight The 
censures of the church are wiped off with weeping, not the penal- 
ties of laws. 

Neither is Achan alone called forth to death, but all his family, 
all his substance. The actor alone doth not smart with sacrilege ; 
all that concerns him is enwrapped in the judgment. Those that 
defile their hands with holy goods are enemies to their own flesh 
and blood. God's first revenges are so much the more fearful, 
because they must be exemplary. 

OF THE GIBEONIT ES.-^Joshua ix. 

The news of Israel's victory had flown over all the mountains 
and valleys of Canaan ; and yet those heathenish kings and peo- 
ple are mustered together against them. They might have seen 
themselves in Jericho and Ai, and have well perceived it was not 
an arm of flesh that they must resist; yet they gather their 
forces and say, " Tush, we shall speed better." It is madness in a 
man not to be warned, but to run upon the point of those judg- 
ments wherewith he sees others miscarry, and not to believe till 
he cannot recover. Our assent is purchased too late when we 
have overstayed prevention, and trust to that experience which 
we cannot live to redeem. 

Only the Hivites are wiser than their fellows, and will rather 
yield and live. Their intelligence was not diverse from the rest : 
all had equally heard of the miraculous conduct and success of 
Israel ; but their resolution was diverse. As Rahab saved her 
family in the midst of Jericho, so these four cities preserved them- 
selves in the midst of Canaan ; and both of them by believing 
what God would do. The efficacy of God's marvellous works is 
not in the acts themselves, but in our apprehension: some are 
overcome with those motives which others have contemned for 

Had these Gibeonites joined with the forces of all their neigh- 
bours, they had perished in their common slaughter ; if they had 

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cont.v. Of the Gibeonites. 207 

not gone away by themselves, death had met them : it may have 
more pleasure, it cannot have so much safety, to follow the multi- 
tude. If examples may lead us, the greatest part shuts out God 
upon earth, and is excluded from God elsewhere. Some few poor 
Hivites yield to the Church of God and escape the condemnation 
of the world. It is very like their neighbours flouted at this base 
submission of the Gibeonites, and out of their terms of honour 
scorned to beg life of an enemy while they were out of the com- 
pass of mercy ; but when the bodies of these proud Jebusites and 
Perizzites lay strewed upon the earth, and the Gibeonites survived, 
whether was more worthy of scorn and insultation ? 

If the Gibeonites had stayed till Israel had besieged their cities, 
their yieldance had been fruitless; now they make an early peace, 
and are preserved. There is no wisdom in staying till a judg- 
ment come home to us : the only way to avoid it is to meet it 
half way. There is the same remedy of war and of danger : to 
provoke an enemy in his own borders is the best stay of invasion : 
and to solicit God betimes in a manifest danger is the best anti- 
dote for death. 

I commend their wisdom in seeking peace ; I do not commend 
their falsehood in the manner of seeking it. Who can look for 
any better of pagans ? But as the faith of Rahab is so rewarded 
that her lie is not punished, so the fraud of these Gibeonites is not 
an equal match to their belief, since the name of the Lord God 
of Israel brought them to this suit of peace. 

Nothing is found fitter to deceive God's people than a counter- 
feit copy of age : here are old sacks, old bottles, old shoes, old 
garments, old bread. The Israelites that had worn one suit forty 
years seemed new clad in comparison of them. It is no new 
policy that Satan would beguile us with a vain colour of antiquity, 
clothing falsehood in rags. Errors are never the elder for their 
patching : corruption can do the same that time would do : we 
may make age as well as suffer it. These Gibeonites did tear 
their bottles and shoes and clothes, and made them naught, that 
they might seem old : so do the false patrons of new errors. If 
we be caught with this Gibeonitish stratagem, it is a sign we have 
not consulted with God. 

The sentence of death was gone out against all the inhabitants 
of Canaan. These Hivites acknowledge the truth and judgments 
of God, and yet seek to escape by a league with Israel. The ge- 
neral denunciations of the vengeance of God enwrap all sinners ; 

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208 Oft/ie Gibeonites. book viii. 

yet may we not despair of mercy. If the secret counsel of the 
Almighty had not designed these men to life, Joshua could not 
have been deceived with their league. In the generality there is 
no hope. Let us come in the old rags of our vileness to the true 
Joshua, and make our truce with him; we may live, yea we 
shall live. 

Some of the Israelites suspect the fraud ; and, notwithstanding 
all their old garments and provisions, can say, It may be thou 
dwellest among us : if Joshua had continued this doubt, the Gi- 
beonites had torn their bottles in vain. In cases and persons 
unknown, it is safe not to be too credulous : charity itself will allow 
suspicion where we have seen no cause to trust. 

If these Hivites had not put on new faces with their old clothes, 
they had surely changed countenance when they heard this argu- 
ment of the Israelites, It may be thou dwellest amongst us : how 
then can I make a league with thee ? They had perhaps hoped 
their submission would not have been refused, wheresoever they 
had dwelt; but lest their neighbourhood might be a prejudice, 
they come disguised ; and now hear that their nearness of abode 
was an unremovable bar of peace. It was quarrel enough that 
they were Oanaanites : God had forbidden both the league and 
the life of the native inhabitants. He that calls himself the God 
of peace proclaims himself the God of hosts ; and not to fight 
where he hath commanded is to break the peace with God while 
we nourish it with men. Contention with brethren is not more 
hateful to him than leagues with idolaters. The condition that he 
hath set to our peace is our possibility and power. That falls not 
within the possibility of our power which we cannot do lawfully. 

What a smooth tale did these Gibeonites tell for themselves, 
of the remoteness of their country, the motives of their journey, 
the consultation of their elders, the ageing of their provisions in 
the way ; that it might seem not only safe, but deserved on their 
parts, that they should be admitted to a peace so far sought, and 
purchased with so much toil and importunity. Their clothes and 
their tongues agreed together, and both disagree from the truth. 
Deceit is ever lightly wrapped up in plausibility of words; as fair 
faces oftentimes hide much unchastity. But this guile sped the 
better because it was clad with much plainness ; for who would have 
suspected that clouted shoes and ragged coats could have covered 
so much subtlety ? The case seemed so clear, that the Israelites 
thought it needless to consult with the mouth of the Lord. Their 

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coxt. v. Of the Gibeonites. 209 

own eyes and ears were called only to counsel ; and now their cre- 
dulity hath drawn them into inconvenience. 

There is no way to convince the Gibeonitish pretences of an- 
tiquity, but to have recourse to the oracle of God. Had this been 
advised with, none of these false rags had shamed the Church of 
God : whether in our practice or judgment, this direction cannot 
fail us; whereas what we take upon the words of men proves 
ever either light or false wares. 

The facility of Israel had led them into a league, to an oath, for 
the safety of the Gibeonites ; and now, within three days, they 
find both their neighbourhood and deceit. Those old shoes of 
theirs would easily hold to carry them back to their home. The 
march of a great army is easy ; yet within three days the Israelites 
were before their cities. Joshua might now have taken advantage 
of their own words to dissolve his league, and have said, " Ye are 
come from a far country, these cities are near, these are not there- 
fore the people to whom we are engaged by our promise and 
oath : and if these cities be yours, yet ye are not yourselves. Ere- 
while ye were strangers, now ye are Hivites born, and dwelling 
in the midst of Canaan ; we will therefore destroy these cities 
near hand, and do you save your people afar off." It would seem 
very questionable whether Joshua needed to hold himself bound 
to this oath, for fraudulent conventions oblige not, and Israel had 
put in a direct caveat of their vicinity ; yet dare not Joshua and 
the princes trt^st to shifts for the eluding their oath, but must 
faithfully perform what they have rashly promised. 

Joshua's heart was clear from any intention of a league with a 
Canaanite when he gave his oath to these disguised strangers ; 
yet he durst neither repeal it himself, neither do I hear him sue to 
Eleazar the high priest to dispense with it, but takes himself tied 
to the very strict words of his oath, not to his own purpose. His 
tongue had bound his heart and hands, so as neither might stir ; 
lest while he was curious of fulfilling the will of God, he should 
violate the oath of God. And if the Gibeonites had not known 
these holy bonds indissoluble, they neither had been so importu- 
nate to obtain their vow, nor durst they have trusted it being 
obtained. If either dispensation with oaths, or equivocation in 
oaths had been known in the world, or at least approved, these 
Gibeonites had not lived, and Israel had slain them without sin : 
either Israel wanted skill, or our reservers honesty. 

The multitude of Israel, when they came to the walls of these 

' TT "^ LVt.RSXTY 4 

210 Of the Gibeonites. book viii. 

four exempted cities, itched to be at the spoil. Not out of a de- 
sire to fulfil God's commandment, but to enrich themselves, would 
they have fallen upon these Hivites. They thought all lost that 
fell beside their fingers. The wealthy city of Jericho was first 
altogether interdicted them : the walls and houses either fell or 
must be burnt, the men and cattle killed, the goods and treasure 
confiscate to God. Achan's booty shows that city was both rich 
and proud; yet Israel might be no whit the better for them, 
carrying away nothing but empty victory : and now four other 
cities must be exempted from their pillage. Many an envious look 
did Israel therefore cast upon these walls, and many bitter words 
did they cast out against their princes, the enemies of their gain ; 
whether for swearing, or for that they would not forswear : but 
howsoever, the princes might have said in a return to their fraud, 
" We swore indeed to you, but not the people ;" yet if any Israel- 
ite had but pulled down one stone from their walls, or shed one 
drop of Gibeonitish blood, he had no less plagued all Israel for 
perjury, than Achan had before plagued them for sacrilege. The 
sequel shows how God would have taken it ; for when, three hun- 
dred years after, Saul, perhaps forgetting the vow of his fore- 
fathers, slew some of these Gibeonites, although out of a well- 
meant zeal, all Israel smarted for the fact with a three years' 
famine, and that in David's reign, who received this oracle from 
God, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew 
the Gibeonites. Neither could this wrong be expiated but by the 
blood of Saul's seven sons, hanged up at the very court-gates of 
their father. 

Joshua and the princes had promised them life, they promised 
them not liberty : no covenant was passed against their servitude. 
It was just therefore with the rulers of Israel to make slavery the 
price both of their lives and their deceit. The Israelites had 
themselves been drudges, if the Gibeonites had not beguiled them 
and lived. The old rags therefore wherewith they came disguised 
must now be their best suits : and their life must be toilsomely 
spent in hewing of wood and drawing of water for all Israel. How 
dear is life to our nature, that men can be content to purchase it 
with servitude ! It is the wisdom of God's children to make good 
use of their oversights. The rash oath of Israel proves their ad- 
vantage : even wicked men gain by the outside of good actions : 
good men make a benefit of their sins. 

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P % 

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J. H. 






Thb life of the Gibeonite* must cost them servitude from Israel, 
and dangers from their neighbours. If Joshua will but sit still, 
the deceit of the Gibeonites shall be revenged by his enemies. 
Five kings are up in arms against them, and are ready to pay 
their fraud with violence, what should these poor men do? If 
they make not their peace, they die by strangers ; if they do 
make their peace with foreigners, they must die by neighbours. 
There is no course that threatens not some danger : we have sped 
well, if our choice hath light upon the easiest inconvenience. 

If these Hivites have sinned against God, against Israel ; yet 
what have they done to their neighbours ? I hear of no treachery, 

» [Created lord Egerton of Ellesmere, 1603; lord chancellor, 1604; vis- 
count Brackley, 161 6.] 

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cont. i. Tlhe rescue of Gibeon. 21 3 

no secret information, no attempt. I see no sin but their league 
with Israel, and their life : yet, for aught we find, they were free- 
men ; no way either obliged or obnoxious. As Satan, so wicked 
men, cannot abide to lose any of their community : if a convert 
come home, the angels welcome him with songs, the devils follow 
him with uproar and fury, his old partners with scorns and 

I find these neighbour princes half dead with fear, and yet 
they can find time to be sick of envy. Malice in a wicked heart 
is the king of passions, all other vail and bow when it comes in 
place ; even their own life was not so dear to them as revenge. 
Who would not rather have looked that these kings should have 
tried to have followed the copy of this league ? or if their fingers 
did itch to fight, why did they not rather think of a defensive 
war against Israel, than an offensive against the Gibeonites? 
Gibeon was strong, and would not be won without blood; yet 
these Amorites, which at their best were too weak for Israel, 
would spend their forces beforehand on their neighbours. Here 
was a strong hatred in weak breasts : they feared, and yet began 
to fight; they feared Israel, yet began to fight with Gibeon. 
If they had sat still, their destruction had not been so sudden : the 
malice of the wicked hastens the pace of their own judgment. No 
rod is so fit for a mischievous man as his own. 

Gibeon and these other cities of the Hivites had no king ; and 
none yielded and escaped but they. Their elders consulted be- 
fore for their league ; neither is there any challenge sent to the 
king, but to the city : and now these five kings of the Amorites 
have unjustly compacted against them. Sovereignty abused is a 
great spur to outrage : the conceit of authority in great persons 
many times lies in the way of their own safety, while it will not 
let them stoop to the ordinary courses of inferiors. Hence it is, 
that heaven is peopled with so few great ones : hence it is, that 
true contentment seldom dwells high, while meaner men, of hum- 
ble spirits, enjoy both earth and heaven. 

The Gibeonites had well proved, that though they wanted an 
head, yet they wanted not wit ; and now the same wit that won 
Joshua and Israel to their friendship and protection, teacheth 
them to make use of those they had won. If they had not more 
trusted Joshua than their walls, they had never stolen that league ; 
and when should they have use of their new protectors, but now 
that they were assailed ? Whither should we fly but to our Joshua, 

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214 The rescue ofCHbeon. book ix. 

when the powers of darkness, like mighty Amorites, have besieged 
us ? If ever we will send up our prayers to him, it will be when 
we are beleaguered with evils. If we trust to our own resistance, 
we cannot stand ; we cannot miscarry, if we trust to his : in vain 
shall we send to our Joshua in these straits, if we have not before 
come to him in our freedom. 

Which of us would not have thought Joshua had a good pre- 
tence for his forbearance, and have said, " Tou have stolen your 
league with me : why do you expect help from him whom ye have 
deceived? All that we promised you was a sufferance to live: 
enjoy what we promised ; we will not take your life from you. 
Hath your faithfulness deserved to expect more than our cove- 
nant? We never promised to hazard our lives for you; to give 
you life with the loss of our own." But that good man durst not 
construe his own covenant to such an advantage : he knew little 
difference betwixt killing them with his own sword, and the sword 
of an Amorite : whosoever should give the blow, the murder would 
be his. Even permission in those things we may remedy makes 
us no less actors than consent : some men kill as much by looking 
on, as others by smiting. We are guilty of all the evil we might 
have hindered. 

The noble disposition of Joshua, besides his engagement, will 
not let him forsake his new vassals. Their confidence in him is 
argument enough to draw him into the field. The greatest obli- 
gation to a good mind is another's trust ; which to disappoint were 
mercilessly perfidious. How much less shall our true Joshua fail 
the confidence of our faith ! my Saviour, if we send the messen- 
gers of our prayers to thee into thy Gilgal, thy mercy binds thee 
to relief: never any soul miscarried that trusted thee : we may be 
wanting in our trust ; our trust can never want success. 

Speed in bestowing doubles a gift : a benefit deferred loses the 
thanks, and proves unprofitable. Joshua marches all night, and 
fights all day for the Gibeonites : they took not so much pains in 
coming to deceive him, as he in going to deliver them. It is the 
noblest victory to overcome evil with good. If his very Israelites 
had been in danger, he could have done no more : God and his 
Joshua make no difference betwixt Gibeonites Israelited and his 
own natural people. All are Israelites whom he hath taken to 
league. Wet strangers of the Gentiles, are now the true Jews : 
God never did more for the natural olive than for that wild imp 
which he hath grafted in. And as these Hivites could never be 

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cont. i. The rescue of Gibeon. 215 

thankful enough to such a Joshua, no more can we to so gracious 
a Redeemer, who, forgetting our unworthiness, descended to our 
Gibeon, and rescued us from the powers of hell and death. 

Joshua fought, but God discomfited the Amorites. The praise 
is to the workman, not the instrument Neither did God slay 
them only with Joshua's sword, but with his own hailstones ; that 
now the Amorites may see both these revenges come from one 
hand. These bullets of God do not wound, but kill. It is no 
wonder that these five kings fly : they may soon run away from 
their hope, never from their horror. If they look behind, there 
is the sword of Israel, which they dare not turn upon, because 
God had taken their heart from them before their life : if they 
look upwards, there is the hail-shot of God fighting against them 
out of heaven, which they can neither resist nor avoid. 

If they had no enemy but Israel, they might hope to run away 
from death, since fear is a better footman than desire of revenge ; 
but now whithersoever they run, heaven will be about their heads ; 
and now, all the reason that is left them in this confusion of their 
thoughts, is, to wish themselves well dead : there is no evasion 
where God intends a revenge. We men have devised to imitate 
these instruments of death, and send forth deadly bullets out of 
a cloud of smoke, wherein yet as there is much danger, so much 
uncertainty; but this God, that discharges his ordnance from 
heaven, directs every shot to an head, and can as easily kill as 
shoot. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living 
God : he hath more ways of vengeance than he hath creatures. 
The same heaven .that sent forth water to the old world, fire to 
the Sodomites, lightning and thunderbolts to the Egyptians, sends 
out hailstones to the Amorites. It is a good care how we may 
not anger God : it is a vain study how we may fly from his judg- 
ments when we have angered him ; if we could run out of the 
world, even there shall we find his revenges far greater. 

Was it not miracle enough that God did brain their adversaries 
from heaven, but that the sun and moon must stand still in 
heaven ? It is not enough that the Amorites fly, but that the 
greatest planets of heaven must stay their own course, to witness 
and wonder at the discomfiture. For him which gave them both 
being and motion to bid them stand still, it seems no difficulty, 
although the rareness would deserve admiration ; but for a man 
to command the chief stars of heaven, by whose influence he 
liveth, as the Centurion would do his servant, Sun, stay in Gibeon, 

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216 The rescue of Gibeon. book ix. 

and Moon, stand still in Ajalon, it is more than a wonder. It 
was not Joshua, but his faith that did this ; not by way of pre- 
cept, but of prayer ; if I may not say that the request of a faith- 
ful man (as we say of the great) commands. God's glory was 
that which Joshua aimed at : he knew that all the world must 
needs be witnesses of that which the eye of the world stood still 
to see. Had he respected but the slaughter of the Amorites, he 
knew the hailstones could do that alone: the sun needed not 
stand still to direct that cloud to persecute them ; but the glory 
of the slaughter was sought by Joshua, that he might send that 
up, whence those hailstones and that victory came. All the 
earth might see the sun and moon ; all could not see the cloud of 
hail, which because of that heavy burthen flew but low. That all 
nations might know the same hand commands both in earth, in 
the clouds, in heaven, Joshua now prays that he which dis- 
heartened his enemies upon earth, and smote them from the cloud, 
would stay the sun and moon in heaven. God never got himself 
so much honour by one day's work amongst the heathen ; and 
when was it more fit than now, when five heathen kings are 
banded against him ? 

The sun and the moon were the ordinary gods of the world ; 
and who would not but think that their standing still but one 
hour should be the ruin of nature ? And now all nations shall well 
see that there is an higher than their highest ; that their gods 
are but servants to the God whom themselves should serve, at 
whose pleasure both they and nature shall stand at once. If that 
God which meant to work this miracle had not raised up his 
thoughts to desire it, it had been a blamable presumption, which 
now is a faith worthy of admiration. To desire a miracle without 
cause is a tempting of God. powerful God that can effect this ! 
O power of faith that can obtain it ! What is there that God cannot 
do ? and what is there which God can do that faith cannot do ? 


Reuben and Gad were the first that had an inheritance as- 
signed them ; yet they must enjoy it last : so it falls out oft in 
the heavenly Canaan; the first in title are last in possession. 
They had their lot assigned them beyond Jordan ; which, though 
it were allotted them in peace, must be purchased with their war : 

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coot. ii. The altar of the Reubenites. 217 

that must be done for their brethren which needed not be done 
for themselves : they must yet still fight, and fight foremost ; 
that as they had the first patrimony, they might endure the first 

I do not hear them say, " This is our share, let us sit down 
and enjoy it quietly ; fight who will for the rest :" but when they 
knew their own portion, they leave wives and children to take 
possession, and march armed before their brethren till they had 
conquered all Canaan. 

Whether should we more commend, their courage or their 
charity ? Others were moved to fight with hope, they only with 
love ; they could not win more, they might lose themselves ; yet 
they will fight both for that they had something, and that their 
brethren might have. Thankfulness and love can do more with 
God's children than desire to merit, or necessity : no true Israelite 
can, if he might choose, abide to sit still beyond Jordan, when all 
his brethren are in the field. 

Now when all this war of God was ended, and all Canaan is 
both won and divided, they return to their own ; yet not till they 
were dismissed by Joshua : all the sweet attractives of their pri- 
vate love cannot hasten their peace. If heaven be never so sweet 
to us, yet may we not run from this earthen warfare till our 
great Captain shall please to discharge us. If these Reubenites 
had departed sooner, they had been recalled, if not as cowards, 
surely as fugitives; now they are sent back with victory and 
blessing. How safe and happy it is to attend both the call and 
the despatch of God ! 

Being returned in peace to their home, their first care is not 
for trophies nor for houses, but for an altar to God ; an altar not 
for sacrifice, which had been abominable, but for a memorial 
what God they serve. The first care of true Israelites must be 
the safety of religion : the world, as it is inferior in worth, so 
must it be in respect : he never knew God aright, that can abide 
any competition with his Maker. 

The rest of the tribes no sooner hear news of their new altar, 
but they gather to Shiloh to fight against them : they had scarce 
breathing from the Canaanitish war, and now they will go fight 
with their brethren : if their brethren will, as they suspected, turn 
idolaters, they cannot hold them any other than Canaanites. 
The Reubenites and their fellows had newly settled the rest of 
Israel in their possessions ; and now, ere they can be warm in 

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218 The altar of the Reubenites. book ix. 

their seats, Israel is up in arms to thrust them out of their own. 
The hatred of their suspected idolatry makes them forget either 
their blood or their benefits. Israel says, " These men were the 
first in our battles, and shall be the first in our revenge; they 
fought well for us ; we will try how they can fight for themselves. 
What if they were our champions I Their revolt from God hath 
lost them the thank of their former labours : their idolatry shall 
make them of brethren adversaries ; their own blood shall give 
handsel to their new altar." noble and religious zeal of Israel ! 
Who would think these men the sons of them that danced about 
the molten calf? that consecrated an altar to that idol? Now 
they are ready to die or kill, rather than endure an altar without 
an idol. Every overture in matter of religion is worthy of suspi- 
cion, worthy of our speedy opposition. God looks for an early 
redress of the first beginnings of impiety. As in treasons or 
mutinies, wise statesmen find it safest to kill the serpent in the 
egg ; so in motions of spiritual alterations, one spoonful of water 
will quench that fire at the first, which afterwards whole buckets 
cannot abate. 

Tet do not these zealous Israelites run rashly and furiously 
upon their brethren ; nor say, " What need we expostulate ? 
The fact is clear : what care we for words, when we see their 
altar? What can this mean, but either service to a false god, or 
division in the service of the true ? There can be no excuse for 
so manifest a crime : why do we not rather think of punishment 
than satisfaction?" But they send ere they go, and consult ere 
they execute. Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and ten 
princes, for every tribe one, are addressed both to inquire and dis- 
suade ; to inquire of the purpose of the fact ; to dissuade from 
that which they imagined was purposed. Wisdom is a good guide 
to zeal, and only can keep it from running out into fury. If dis- 
cretion do not hold in the reins, good intentions will both break 
their own necks and the riders'; yea, which is strange, without 
this, the zeal of God may lead us from God. 

Not only wisdom but charity moved them to this message ; for 
grant they had been guilty, must they perish unwarned ? Peace- 
able means must first be used to recall them, ere violence be sent 
to persecute them. The old rule of Israel hath been still to 
inquire of Abel*. No good shepherd sends his dog to pull out the 
throat of his strayed sheep, but rather fetches it on his shoulders 
* [a Sam. zz. 18.] 

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cont. ii. The altar of the Reubenites. 219 

to the fold. Sudden cruelty stands not with religion : he which 
will not himself break the bruised reed, how will he allow us 
either to bruise the whole, or to break the bruised, or to burn 
the broken ? 

Neither yet was here more charity in sending, than uncharita- 
bleness in the misconstruction. They begin with a challenge ; and 
charge their brethren deeply with transgression, apostasy, re- 
bellion. I know not how two contrary qualities fall into love : it 
is not naturally suspicious, and yet many times suggests jealous 
fears of those we affect. If these Israelites had not loved their 
brethren, they would never have sent so far to restrain them; 
+ they had never offered them part of their own patrimony : if they 
had not been excessively jealous, they had not censured a doubt- 
ful action so sharply. They met at Shiloh, where the tabernacle 
was ; but if they had consulted with the ark of God, they had 
saved both this labour and this challenge. This case seemed so 
plain, that they thought advice needless ; their inconsiderateness 
therefore brands their brethren with crimes whereof they were in- 
nocent, and makes themselves the onlf offenders. In cases which 
are doubtful and uncertain, it is safe either to suspend the judg- 
ment, or to pass it in favour ; otherwise a plain breach of charity 
in us shall be worse than a questionable breach of justice in 

Tet this little gleam of their uncharitable love began at them- 
selves : if they had not feared their own judgments in the offence 
of Reuben, I know not whether they had been so vehement : the 
fearful revenges of their brethren's sin are still in their eye. The 
wickedness of Peor stretched not so far as the plague: Achan 
sinned, and Israel was beaten ; therefore by just induction they 
argue, " Ye rebel to-day against the Lord ; to-morrow will the 
Lord be wroth with all the congregation." They still tremble at 
the vengeance passed; and find it time to prevent their own pun- 
ishment in punishing their brethren. God's proceedings have 
then their right use, when they are both carefully remembered 
and made patterns of what he may do. 

Had these Reubenites been as hot in their answer as the 
Israelites were in their charge, here had grown a bloody war out 
of misprision ; but now their answer is mild and moderate, and 
such as well showed, that though they were farther from the ark, 
yet no less near to God. They thought in themselves, "This 
act of ours, though it were well meant by us, yet might well be by 

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220 The altar of the Reubenites. book ix. 

interpretation scandalous : it is reason our mildness should give 
satisfaction for that offence which we have not prevented." Here- 
upon their answer was as pleasing as their act was dangerous. 
Even in those actions whereby an offence may be occasioned 
though not given, charity binds us to clear both our own name 
and the conscience of others. 

Little did the Israelites look for so good a ground of an action 
so suspicious. An altar without a sacrifice! an altar, and no 
tabernacle ! an altar without a precept, and yet not against God I 
It is not safe to measure all men's actions by our own conceit ; but 
rather to think there may be a further drift and warrant of their 
act than we can attain to see. 

By that time the Reubenites have commented upon their own 
work, it appears as justifiable as before offensive. What wisdom 
and religion is found in that altar which before shewed nothing 
but idolatry ! This discourse of theirs is full both of reason and 
piety; "We are severed by the river Jordan from the other 
tribes ; perhaps hereafter our choice may exclude us from Israel : 
posterity may peradventure say, * Jordan is the bounds of all na- 
tural Israelites; the streams whereof never gave way to those 
beyond the river : if they had been ours, either in blood or reli- 
gion, they would not have been sequestered in habitation. Doubt- 
less therefore these men are the offspring of some strangers, which, 
by vicinity of abode, have gotten some tincture of our language, 
manners, religion ; what have we to do with them ? what have they 
to do with the tabernacle of God V Sith therefore we may not 
either remove God's altar to us, or remove our patrimony to the 
altar, the pattern of the altar shall go with us, not for sacrifice, 
but for memorial ; that both the posterity of the other Israelites 
may know we are no less derived from them than this altar from 
theirs, and that our posterity may know they pertain to that 
altar whereof this is the resemblance. " There was no danger of 
the present ; but posterity might both offer and receive prejudice, 
if this monument were not. It is a wise and holy care to prevent 
the dangers of ensuing times, and to settle religion upon the suc- 
ceeding generations. As we affect to leave a perpetuity of our 
bodily issue, so much more to traduce piety with them. Do we 
not see good husbands set and plant those trees whereof their 
grandchildren shall receive the first fruit and shade ? Why are 
we less thrifty in leaving true religion entire to our children's 
children ? 

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coxt. in. Ehud and Eglon. 221 

EHUD AND EGLON.-Judges iii. 

As every man is guilty of his own sorrow, the Israelites bred 
mischief to themselves. It was their mercy that plagued them 
with those Canaanites, which their obedience should have rooted 
out. If foolish pity be a more humane sin, yet it is no less dan- 
gerous than cruelty: cruelty kills others, unjust pity kills our- 
selves. They had been lords alone of the promised land, if their 
commiseration had not overswayed their justice ; and now their 
enemies are too cruel to them, in the just revenge of God, be- 
cause they were too merciful. 

That God, which in his revealed will had commanded all the 
Canaanites to the slaughter, yet secretly gives over Israel to a 
toleration of some Canaanites for their own punishment. He 
hath bidden us cleanse our hearts of all our corruptions ; yet he will 
permit some of these thorns still in our sides for exercise, for 
humiliation. If we could lay violent hands upon our sins, our 
souls should have peace; now our indulgence costs us many 
stripes and many tears. What a continued circle is here of sins, 
judgments, repentance, deliverances ! The conversation with idola- 
ters taints them with sin; their sin draws on judgment; the 
smart of the judgment moves them to repentance; upon their 
repentance follows speedy deliverance; upon their peace and 
deliverance they sin again. 

Othniel, Caleb's nephew, had rescued them from idolatry and 
servitude : his life and their innocence and peace ended together. 
How powerful the presence of one good man is in a church or 
state, is best found in his loss. A man that is at once eminent in 
place and goodness, is like a stake in a hedge ; pull that up, and 
all the rest are but loose and rotten sticks, easily removed : or 
like the pillar of a vaulted roof, which either supports or ruins 
the building. 

Who would not think idolatry an absurd and unnatural sin ? 
which, as it hath the fewest inducements, so had also the most 
direct inhibitions from God; and yet, after all these warnings, 
Israel falls into it again: neither affliction nor repentance can 
secure an Israelite from redoubling the worst sin, if he be left to 
his own frailty. It is no censuring of the truth of our present 
sorrow, by the event of a following miscarriage. The former cries 
of Israel to God were unfeigned, yet their present wickedness is 
abominable : let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 

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222 Ehud and Eghn. book ix. 

No sooner had he said Israel had rest, but he adds, They com- 
mitted wickedness. The security of any people is the cause of 
their corruption: standing waters soon grow noisome. While 
they were exercised with war, how scrupulous were they of the 
least intimation of idolatry ! the news of a bare altar beyond 
Jordan drew them together for a revenge: now they are at 
peace with their enemies they are at variance with God. It is 
both hard and happy not to be the worse with liberty. The 
sedentary life is most subject to diseases. 

Rather than Israel shall want a scourge for their sin, Ood 
himself shall raise them up an enemy. Moab had no quarrel but 
his own ambition ; but God meant by the ambition of the one 
part to punish the idolatry of the other : his justice can make 
one sin the executioner of another, whilst neither shall look for 
any other measure from him but judgment : the evil of the city 
is so his that the instrument is not guiltless. Before, God had 
stirred up the king of Syria against Israel ; now, the king of 
Moab ; afterwards, the king of Canaan : he hath more variety of 
judgments than there can be offences : if we have once made him 
our adversary, he shall be sure to make us adversaries enow ; which 
shall revenge his quarrel whilst they prosecute their own. 

Even those were idolaters by whose hands God plagued the idola- 
tries of Israel. In Moab the same wickedness prospers which in 
God's own people is punished : the justice of the Almighty can 
least brook evil in his own : the same heathen, which provoked Is- 
rael to sin, shall scourge them for sinning. Our very profession 
hurts us if we be not innocent. 

No less than eighteen years did the rod of Moab rest upon the 
inheritance of God. Israel seems as born to servitude; they 
came from their bondage in the land of Egypt to serve in the 
land of promise. They had neglected God ; now they are neg- 
lected of God. Their sins have made them servants whom the 
choice of God had made free, yea, his firstborn. Worthy are 
they to serve those men whose false gods they had served ; and 
to serve them always in thraldom whom they have once served 
in idolatry. We may not measure the continuance of punishment 
by the time of the commission of sin: one minute's sin deserves a 
torment beyond all time. 

Doubtless Israel was not so insensible of their own misery as 
not to complain sooner than the end of eighteen years. The first 
hour they sighed for themselves, but now they cried unto God. 

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cont. in. Ehud and Eglon. 223 

The very purpose of affliction is to make us importunate : he that 
hears the secret murmurs of our grief, yet will not seem to hear 
us, till our cries be loud and strong. God sees it best to let the 
penitent dwell for the time under their sorrows : he sees us sink- 
ing all the while, yet he lets us alone till we be at the bottom ; 
and when once we can say , Out of the depths have I cried to thee f 
instantly follows, The Lord heard me. A vehement suitor cannot 
but be heard of God, whatsoever he asks. If our prayers want 
success, they want heart; their blessing is according to their 
vigour. We live in bondage to these spiritual Moabites, our own 
corruptions: it discontents us; but where are our strong cries 
unto the God of heaven ? where are our tears ? If we could pas- 
sionately bemoan ourselves to him, how soon should we be more 
than conquerors I Some good motions we have to send up to him, 
but they faint in the way. We may call long enough, if we cry 
not to him. 

. The same hand that raised up Eglon against Israel raised up 
also Ehud for Israel against Eglon. When that tyrant hath re- 
venged God of his people, God will revenge his people of him. 
It is no privilege to be an instrument of God's vengeance by evil 
means. Though Eglon were an. usurper, yet had Ehud been a 
traitor if God had not sent him : it is only in the power of him 
that makes kings, when they are once settled, to depose them. It 
is no more possible for our modern butchers of princes to show 
they are employed by God, than to escape the revenge of God, 
in offering to do this violence, not being employed b . 

What a strange choice doth God make of an executioner I a 
man shut of his right hand! Either he had but one hand, or 
used but one, and that the worse, and the more unready. Who 
would not have thought both hands too little for such a work ; 
or, if either might have been spared, how much rather the left ? 
God seeth not as man seeth: it is the ordinary wont of the 
Almighty to make choice of the unlikeliest means. 

The instruments of God must not be measured by their own 
power or aptitude, but by the will of the agent. Though Ehud 
had no hands, he that employed him had enabled him to this 
slaughter. In human things it is good to look to the means ; in 
divine, to the worker ; no means are to be contemned that God 
will use, no means to be trusted that man will use without him. 

b [An allusion probably to the assassinations of Hen. III. and Hen. IV. of 
France; both comparatively recent events.] 

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224 Ehud and Egloiu book ix. 

It is good to be suspicious where is least show of danger and 
most appearance of favour. This left-handed man comes with a 
present in his hand, but a dagger under his skirt The tyrant, 
besides service, looked for gifts ; and now receives death in his 
bribe: neither God nor men do always give where they love. 
How oft doth God give extraordinary illumination, power of mi- 
racles, besides wealth and honour, where he hates ! So do men 
too oft accompany their curses with presents ; either lest an enemy 
should hurt us, or that we may hurt them. The intention is the 
favour in gifts, and not the substance. 

Ehud's faith supplies the want of his hand. Where God in- 
tends success, he lifts up the heart with resolutions of courage 
and contempt of danger. What indifferent beholder of this pro- 
ject would not have condemned it as unlikely to speed ; to see 
a maimed man go alone to a great king, in the midst of all his 
troops ; to single him out from all witnesses ; to set upon him with 
one hand in his own parlour, where his courtiers might have 
heard the least exclamation, and have come in, if not to the 
rescue, yet to the revenge ? Every circumstance is full of impro- 
babilities. Faith evermore overlooks the difficulties of the way, 
and bends her eyes only to the certainty of the end. In this in- 
testine slaughter of our tyrannical corruptions, when we cast our 
eyes upon ourselves, we might well despair : alas ! what can our 
left hands do against these spiritual wickednesses ? But when we 
see who hath both commanded and undertaken to prosper these 
holy designs, how can we misdoubt the success? / can do all 
things through him that strengthens me. 

When Ehud hath obtained the convenient secresy both of the 
weapon and place, now with a confident forehead he approaches 
the tyrant, and salutes him with a true and awful preface to so 
important an act : / have a message to thee from Qod. Even 
Ehud's poniard was God's message : not only the vocal admoni- 
tions, but also the real judgments of God, are his errands to the 
world. He speaks to us in rain and waters, in sicknesses and 
famine, in unseasonable times and inundations: these are the 
secondary messages of God ; if we will not hear the first, we must 
hear these to our cost. 

I cannot but wonder at the devout reverence of this heathen 
prince ; he sat in his chair of state ; the unwieldiness of his fat 
body was such that he could not rise with readiness and ease; 
yet no sooner doth he hear news of a message from God, but he 

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cont. iv. Jael and Sisera. 225 

rises up from his throne, and reverently attends the tenor thereof. 
Though he had no superior to control him, yet he cannot abide 
to be unmannerly in the business of Ood. 

This man was an idolater, a tyrant ; yet what outward respects 
doth he give to the true God ! External ceremonies of piety and 
compliments of devotion may well be found with falsehood in reli- 
gion. They are a good shadow of truth where it is ; but where 
it is not, they are the very body of hypocrisy. He that had 
risen up in arms against God's people and the true worship of 
God, now rises up in reverence to his name. God would have 
liked well to have had less of his courtesy, more of his obedience. 

He looked to have heard the message with his ears, and he 
feels it in his guts : so sharp a message, that it pierced the body 
and let out the soul through that unclean passage ; neither did it 
admit of any answer but silence and death. In that part had he 
offended by pampering it, and making it his god ; and now his 
bane finds the same way with his sin. 

This one hard and cold morsel, which he cannot digest, pays 
for all those gluttonous delicates whereof he had formerly sur- 
feited. It is the manner of God to take fearful revenges of the 
professed enemies of his church. 

It is a marvel, that neither any noise in his dying, nor the fall 
of so gross a body, called in some of his attendants ; but that 
God, which hath intended to bring about any design, disposes of 
all circumstances to his own purpose. If Ehud had not come 
forth with a calm and settled countenance, and shut the doors 
after him, all his project had been in the dust. What had it 
been better that the king of Moab was slain, if Israel had neither 
had a messenger to inform nor a captain to guide them ? Now he 
departs peaceably, and blows a trumpet in Mount Ephraim; 
gathers Israel, and falls upon the body of Moab, as well as he 
had done upon the head, and procures freedom to his people. 
He that would undertake great enterprizes had need of wisdom 
and courage; wisdom to contrive, and courage to execute; wis- 
dom to guide his courage, and courage to second his wisdom ; both 
which, if they meet with a good cause, cannot but succeed. 

JAEL AND SISERA.— Judges iv. 

It is no wonder if they, who ere fourscore days after the law 
delivered fell to idolatry alone, now after fourscore years since 


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226 Jael and Sisera. book ix. 

the law restored, fell to idolatry among the Canaanites. Peace 
could in a shorter time work looseness in any people. And if forty 
years after Othniel's deliverance they relapsed, what marvel is it 
that in twice forty after Ehud they thus miscarried ? What are 
they the better to have killed Eglon the king of Moab, if the 
idolatry of Moab have killed them ? The sin of Moab shall be 
found a worse tyrant than their Eglon. Israel is for every 
market : they sold themselves to idolatry, God sells them to the 
Canaanites : it is no marvel they are slaves if they will be idola- 
ters. After their longest intermission they have now the sorest 
bondage. None of their tyrants were so potent as Jabin with his 
nine hundred chariots of iron. The longer the reckoning is de- 
ferred, the greater is .the sum : God provides on purpose mighty 
adversaries for his church, that their humiliation may be the 
greater in sustaining, and his glory may be greater in deliverance. 

I do not find any prophet in Israel during their sin; but so 
soon as I hear news of their repentance, mention is made of a 
prophetess and judge of Israel. There is no better sign of God's 
reconciliation than the sending of his holy messengers to any 
people : he is not utterly fallen out with those whom he blesses 
with prophecy. Whom yet do I see raised to this honour ? Not 
any of the princes of Israel, not Barak the captain, not Lapidoth 
the husband ; but a woman, for the honour of her sex ; a wife, for 
the honour of wedlock : Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth. 

He that had choice of all the millions of Israel calls out two 
weak women to deliver his people : Deborah shall judge, Jael 
shall execute. All the palaces of Israel must yield to the palm 
tree of Deborah. The weakness of the instruments redounds to 
the greater honour of the workman. Who shall ask God any 
reason of his elections but his own pleasure ? Deborah was to 
sentence, not to strike ; to command, not to execute : this act is 
masculine, fit for some captain of Israel. She was the head of 
Israel ; it was meet some other should be the hand. It is an im- 
perfect and titular government where there is a commanding 
power without correction, without execution. The message of 
Deborah finds out Barak the son of Abinoam. in his obscure se- 
cresy, and calls him from a corner of Naphtali to the honour of 
this exploit. He is sent for, not to get the victory, but to take it ; 
not to overcome, but to kill ; to pursue, and not to beat Sisera. 
Who could not have done this work, whereto not much courage, 
no skill belonged ? Yet even for this will God have an instrument 

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cont. iv. Joel and Sisera. 227 

of his own choice : it is most fit that God should serve himself 
where he list of his own ; neither is it to be inquired whom we 
think meet for any employment, but whom God hath called. 

Deborah had been no prophetess if she durst have sent in her 
own name. Her message is from him that sent herself; Hath 
not the Lord God of Israel commanded ? Barak's answer is faith- 
ful though conditionate, and doth not so much intend a refusal to 
go without her, as a necessary bond of her presence with him. 
Who can blame him that he would have a prophetess in his 
company ? If the man had not been as holy as valiant, he would 
not have wished such society. How many think it a perpetual 
bondage to have a prophet of God at their elbow! God had 
never sent for him so far, if he could have been content to go up 
without Deborah : he knew that there was both a blessing and 
encouragement in that presence. It is no putting any trust in the 
success of those men that neglect the messengers of God. 

To prescribe that to others which we draw back from doing 
ourselves is an argument of hollowness and falsity. Barak shall 
see that Deborah doth not offer him that cup whereof she dare 
not begin : without regard of her sex she marches with him to 
Mount Tabor, and rejoices to be seen of the ten thousand of Israel. 
With what scorn did Sisera look at these gleanings of Israel ! 
How unequal did this match seem of ten thousand Israelites 
against his three hundred thousand foot, ten thousand horse, nine 
hundred chariots of iron ! And now in bravery he calls for his 
troops, and means to kill this handful of Israel with the very sight 
of his piked chariots, and only feared it would be no victory to 
cut the throats of so few. The faith of Deborah and Barak was 
not appalled with this world of adversaries, which from Mount 
Tabor they saw hiding all the valley below them: they knew 
whom they had believed, and how little an arm of flesh could do 
against the God of Hosts. 

Barak went down against Sisera, but it was God that destroyed 
him. The Israelites did not this day wield their own swords, lest 
they should arrogate any thing. God told them beforehand it 
should be his own act. I hear not of one stroke that any Cana- 
anite gave in this fight ; as if they were called hither only to suffer. 
And now proud Sisera, after many curses of the heaviness of that 
iron carriage, is glad to quit his chariot and betake himself to his 
heels. Who ever yet knew any earthly thing trusted in without 
disappointment ? It is wonder if God make us not at last as weary 


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228 Jael and Sisera. book ix. 

of whatsoever hath stolen our hearts from him, as ever we were 

Tet Sisera hopes to have sped better than his followers in so 
seasonable a harbour of Jael. If Heber and Jael had not been 
great persons, there had been no note taken of their tents ; there 
had been no league betwixt king Jabin and them; now their 
greatness makes them known, their league makes them trusted. 
The distress of Sisera might have made him importunate; but 
Jael begins the courtesy and exceeds the desire of her guest : he 
asks water to drink, she gives him milk ; he wishes but shelter, 
she makes him a bed ; he desires the protection of her tent, she 
covers him with a mantle. And now Sisera pleases himself with 
his happy change, and thinks how much better it is to be here 
than in that whirling of chariots, in that horror of flight, amongst 
those shrieks, those wounds, those carcasses. While he is in these 
thoughts, his weariness and easy reposal hath brought him asleep. 
Who would have looked that in this tumult and danger, even betwixt 
the very jaws of death, Sisera should find time to sleep ? How many 
worldly hearts do so in the midst of their spiritual perils ! 

Now while he was dreaming doubtless of the clashing of ar- 
mours, rattling of chariots, neighing of horses, the clamour of the 
conquered, the furious pursuit of Israel ; Jael, seeing his temples 
lie so fair, as if they invited the nail and hammer, entered into the 
thought of this noble execution ; certainly not without some checks 
of doubt and pleas of fear : " What if I strike him ? And yet who 
am I that I should dare to think of such an act ? Is not this Sisera, 
the famousest captain of the world, whose name hath wont to be 
fearful to whole nations ? What if my hand should swerve in the 
stroke ? What if he should awake while I am lifting up this in- 
strument of death ? What if I should be surprised by some of his 
followers while the fact is green and yet bleeding ? Can the mur- 
der of so great a leader be hid or unrevenged ? Or if I might 
hope so, yet can my heart allow me to be secretly treacherous ? 
Is there not peace betwixt my house and him ? Did not I invite him 
to my tent ? Doth he not trust to my friendship and hospitality ? 
But what do these weak fears, these idle fancies of civility ? If 
Sisera be in league with us, yet is he not at defiance with God ? 
Is he not a tyrant to Israel? Is it for nothing that God hath 
brought him into my tent ? May I not now find means to repay 
unto Israel all their kindness to my grandfather Jethro i Doth 
not God offer me this day the honour to be the rescuer of his 

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cont- v. Gideons calling. 229 

people ? Hath God bidden me strike, and shall I hold my hand 
No, Sisera, sleep now thy last, and take here this fatal reward of 
all thy cruelty and oppression ." 

He that put this instinct into her heart did put also strength 
into her hand : he that guided Sisera to her tent guided the nail 
through his temples ; which hath made a speedy way for his soul 
through those parts, and now hath fastened his ear so close to the 
earth, as if the body had been listening what was become of the 
soul. There lies now the great terror of Israel at the foot of a 
woman. He that brought so many hundred thousands into the 
field hath not now one page left, either to avert his death, or to 
accompany it, or bewail it. He that had vaunted of his iron cha- 
riots is slain by one nail of iron ; wanting only this one point of 
his infelicity, that he knows not by whose hand he perished. 


The judgments of God still tho farther they go the sorer 
they are : the bondage of Israel under Jabin was great, but it 
was freedom in comparison of the yoke of the Midianites. During 
the former tyranny Deborah was permitted to judge Israel under 
a palm tree ; under this, not so much as private habitations will 
be allowed to Israel. Then the seat of judgment was in sight of 
the sun ; now their very dwellings must be secret under the earth. 
They that rejected the protection of God are glad to seek to the 
mountains for shelter ; and as they had savagely abused them- 
selves, so they are fain to creep into dens and caves of the rocks, 
like wild creatures, for safeguard. God had sown spiritual seed 
amongst them, and they suffered their heathenish neighbours to 
pull it up by the roots ; and now, no sooner can they sow their 
material seed, but Midianites and Amalekites are ready by force to 
destroy it. As they inwardly dealt with God, so God deals outwardly 
by them. Their eyes may tell them what their souls have done ; yet 
that God, whose mercy is above the worst of our sins, sends first 
his prophet with a message of reproof, and then his angel with a 
message of deliverance. The Israelites had smarted enough with 
their servitude, yet God sends them a sharp rebuke. It is a good 
sign when God chides us ; his round reprehensions are ever gra- 
cious forerunners of mercy ; whereas his silent connivance at the 

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230 Gidemis calling. book ix. 

wicked argues deep and secret displeasure. The prophet made way 
for the angel, reproof for deliverance, humiliation for comfort. 

Gideon was thrashing wheat by the wine-press; yet Israel 
hath both wheat and wine for all the incursions of their enemies. 
The worst estate out of hell hath either some comfort, or at least 
some mitigation. In spite of all the malice of the world, God makes 
secret provision for his own. How should it be, but he that owns 
the earth and all creatures should reserve ever a sufficiency from 
foreigners (such the wicked are) for his household ? In the worst 
of the Midianitish tyranny, Gideon's 6eld and barn are privileged, 
as his fleece was afterwards from the shower. 

Why did Gideon thrash out his corn ? To hide it ; not from 
his neighbours, but his enemies : his granary might easily be more 
close than his barn. As then, Israelites threshed out their corn 
to hide it from the Midianites; but now, Midianites thresh out 
corn to hide it from the Israelites. These rural tyrants of our 
time do not more lay up corn than curses : He that withdraweth 
corn, the people will curse him; yea, God will curse him, with 
them and for them. 

What shifts nature will make to live ! Oh that we could be so 
careful to lay up spiritual food for our souls out of the reach of 
those spiritual Midianites ! we could not but live indespite of all 

The angels, that have ever God in their face and in their 
thoughts, have him also in their mouths : The Lord is with thee. 
But this which appeared unto Gideon was the Angel of the 
Covenant, the Lord of angels. While he was with Gideon, he 
might well say, The Lord is with thee. He that sent the Com- 
forter was also the true comforter of his Church : he well knew 
how to lay a sure ground of consolation; and that the only 
remedy of sorrow and beginning of true joy is the presence of 
God. The grief of the apostles for the expected loss of their 
Master could never be cured by any receipt but this of the same 
angel, Behold, I am with you to the end of the world. What is 
our glory, but the fruition of God's presence ? The punishment of 
the damned is a separation from the beatifical face of God; 
needs must therefore his absence in this life be a great torment to 
a good heart : and no cross can be equivalent to this beginning of 
heaven in the elect, The Lord is with thee. 

Who can complain either of solitariness or opposition that hath 
God with him ? with him, not only as a witness, but as a party. 

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co NT. v. Gideons calling. 231 

Even wicked men and devils cannot exclude God ; not the bars of 
hell can shut him out : he is with them perforce, but to judge, to 
punish them ; yea, God will be ever with them to their cost : but 
to protect, comfort, save, he is with none but his. 

While he calls Gideon valiant, he makes him so. How could he 
be but valiant that had God with him ? The godless man may 
be careless, but cannot be other than cowardly. It pleases God 
to acknowledge his own graces in men, that he may interchange 
his own glory with their comfort ; how much more should we con- 
fess the graces of one another ! An envious nature is prejudicial 
to God : he is a strange man in whom there is not some visible 
good ; yea, in the devils themselves we may easily note some 
commendable parts, of knowledge, strength, agility: let God 
have his own in the worst creature ; yea, let the worst creature 
have that praise which God would put upon it. 

Gideon cannot pass over this salutation as some fashionable 
compliment ; but lays hold on that part which was most impor- 
tant ; the tenure of all his comfort ; and, as not regarding the 
praise of his valour, inquires after that which should be the 
ground of his valour, tho presence of God. God had spoken 
particularly to him ; he expostulates for all. It had been possible 
God should be present with him, not with the rest ; as he promised 
to have been with Moses, not Israel : and yet when God says, The 
Lord is with thee, he answers, Alas, Lord, if the Lord be with 
us, Gideon cannot conceive of himself as an exempt person ; but 
puts himself among the throng of Israel, as one that could not be 
sensible of any particular comfort while the common case of Israel 
laboured. The main care of a good heart is still for the public ; 
neither can it enjoy itself while the church of God is distressed. 
As faith draws home generalities, so charity diffuses generalities 
from itself to all. 

Tet the valiant man was here weak ; weak in faith, weak in 
discourse ; while he argues God's absence by affliction, his pre- 
sence by deliverances, and the unlikelihood of success by his own 
disability; all gross inconsequences. Rather should he have 
inferred God's presence upon their correction; for wheresoever 
God chastises, there he is, yea, there he is in mercy: nothing 
more proves us his than his stripes ; he will not bestow whipping 
where he loves not. Fond Nature thinks God should not suffer 
the wind to blow upon his dear ones, because herself makes this 
use of her own indulgence ; but none out of the place of torment 

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282 Gideons calling. book ix. 

have suffered so much as his dearest children. He says not, " We 
are idolaters ; therefore the Lord hath forsaken us, because we 
have forsaken him." This sequel had been as good as the other 
was faulty; "The Lord hath delivered us unto the Midianites, 
therefore he hath forsaken us." Sins, not afflictions, argue God 

While Gideon bewrayeth weakness, God both gives him might 
and employs it ; 60 in this thy might, and save Israel. Who 
would not have looked that God should have looked angrily on 
him, and chid him for his unbelief? But he whose mercy will 
not quench the weakest fire of grace, though it be but in flax, 
looks upon him with compassionate eyes ; and, to make good his 
own word, gives him that valour he had acknowledged. 

Gideon had not yet said, " Lord, deliver Israel :" much less 
had he said, " Lord, deliver Israel by my hand." The mercy of 
God prevents the desire of Gideon. If God should not begin 
with us, we should be ever miserable. If he should not give us 
till we ask, yet who should give us to ask ? If his Spirit did not 
work those holy groans and sighs in us, we should never make 
suit to God. He that commonly gives us power to crave, some- 
times gives us without craving ; that the benefit might be so much 
more welcome, by how much less it was expected; and we so 
much more thankful, as he is more forward. When he bids us 
ask, it is not for that he needs to be entreated, but that he may 
make us more capable of blessings by desiring them ; and where 
he sees fervent desires, he stays not for words ; and he that gives 
ere we ask, how much more will he give when we ask ! 

He that hath might enough to deliver Israel, yet hath not 
might enough to keep himself from doubting. The strongest 
faith will ever have some touch of infidelity. And yet this was 
not so much a distrust of the possibility of delivering Israel as 
an inquiry after the means ; Whereby shall I save Israel ? The 
salutation of the angel to Gideon was as like to Gabriel's salutation 
of the blessed Virgin as their answers were like: both angels 
brought news of deliverance ; both were answered with a question 
of the means of performance, with a report of the difficulties in 
performing : Ah, my Lord, whereby shall I save Israel ? How 
the good man disparages himself I " It is a great matter, O Lord, 
that thou speakest of; and great actions require mighty agents: 
as for me, who am I? My tribe is none of the greatest in 
Israel; my father's family is one of the meanest in his tribe, and 

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cont. v, Gideon's calling. 233 

I the meanest in his family : poverty is a sufficient bar to great 

Whereby shall I? Humility is both a sign of following glory, 
and a way to it, and an occasion of it. Bragging and height of 
spirit will not carry it with God : none have ever been raised by 
him but those which have formerly dejected themselves; none 
have been confounded by him that have been abased in them- 
selves. Thereupon it is that he adds ; / will therefore be with 
thee : as if he had answered, " Hadst thou not been so poor in 
thyself, I would not have wrought by thee." How should Ood 
be magnified in his mercies, if we were not unworthy? how 
should he be strong, if not in our weakness? 

All this while Gideon knew not it was an angel that spake 
with him. He saw a man stand before him like a traveller, with 
a staff in his hand. The unusualness of those revelations in 
those corrupted times was such, that Gideon might think of any 
thing rather than an angel. No marvel if so strange a promise 
from an unknown messenger found not a perfect assent. Fain 
would he believe, but fain would he have good warrant for his 
faith. In matters of faith we cannot go upon too sure grounds. 
As Moses therefore, being sent upon the same errand, desired a 
sign, whereby Israel might know that God sent him ; so Gideon 
desires a sign from this bearer, to know that his news is from 

Yet the very hope of so happy news, not yet ratified, stirs up 
in Gideon both joy and thankfulness. After all the injury of the 
Midianites, he was not so poor but he could bestow a kid and 
cakes upon the reporter of such tidings. Those which are rightly 
affected with the glad news of our spiritual deliverance study to 
show their loving respects to the messengers. 

The angel stays for the preparing of Gideon's feast. Such 
pleasure doth God take in the thankful endeavours of his ser- 
vants, that he patiently waits upon the leisure of our perform- 
ances. Gideon intended a dinner; the angel turned it into a 
sacrifice. He, whose meat and drink it was to do his Father's 
will, calls for the broth and flesh to be poured out upon the 
stone; and when Gideon looked he should have blessed and 
eaten, he touches the feast with his staff, and consumes it with 
fire from the stone, and departs. He did not strike the stone 
with his staff, for the attrition of two hard bodies would naturally 
beget fire, but he touched the meat, and brought fire from the 

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284 Gideoris calling. book ix. 

stone ; and now, while Gideon saw and wondered at the spiritual 
act, he lost the sight of the agent. 

He that came without entreating would not have departed with- 
out taking leave, but that he might increase Gideon's wonder, 
and that his wonder might increase his faith. His salutation 
therefore was not so strange as his farewell. Moses touched the 
rock with his staff and brought forth water, and yet a man, and 
yet continued with the Israelites. This messenger touches the 
stone with his staff and brings forth fire, and presently vanishes, 
that he may approve himself a spirit. And now Gideon, when 
he had gathered up himself, must needs think ; " He that can 
raise fire out of a stone can raise courage and power out of my 
dead breast : he that by this fire hath consumed the broth and 
flesh can by the feeble flame of my fortitude consume Midian." 

Gideon did not so much doubt before as now he feared. We 
that shall once live with and be like the angels, in the estate of 
our impotency think we cannot see an angel and live. Gideon 
was acknowledged for mighty in valour, yet he trembles at the 
sight of an angel. Peter, that durst draw his sword upon Mal- 
chus and all the train of Judas, yet fears when he thought he 
had seen a spirit. Our natural courage cannot bear us out 
against spiritual objects. This angel was homely and familiar, 
taking upon him for the time a resemblance of that flesh whereof 
he would afterwards take the substance; yet even the valiant 
Gideon quakes to have seen him. How awful and glorious is the 
God of angels, when he will be seen in the state of heaven ! 

The angel that departed for the wonder, yet returns for the 
comfort of Gideon. It is not the wont of God to leave his chil- 
dren in a maze ; but he brings them out in the same mercy which 
led them in, and will magnify his grace in the one, no less than 
his power in the other. 

Now Gideon grows acquainted with God, and interchanges 
pledges of familiarity. He builds an altar to God, and God con- 
fers with him ; and, as he uses where he loves, employs him. His 
first task must be to destroy the god of the Midianites ; then the 
idolaters themselves. While Baal's altar and grove stood in the 
hill of Ophrah, Israel should in vain hope to prevail. It is most 
just with God that judgment should continue with the sin ; and 
no less mercy, if it may remove, after it. Wouldst thou fain be 
rid of any judgment? inquire what false altars and groves thou 
hast in thy heart. Down with them first. 

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coxt. vi. Gideon's preparation and victory. 285 

First must Baal's altar be ruined, ere God's be built; both 
may not stand together : the true God will have no society with 
idols, neither will allow it us. I do not hear him say, " That 
altar and grove which were abused to Baal consecrate now to 
me ;" but, as one whose holy jealousy will abide no worship till 
there be no idolatry, he first commands down the monuments of 
superstition, and then enjoins his own service ; yet the wood of 
Baal's grove must be used to burn a sacrifice unto God : when 
it was once cut down, God's detestation and their danger ceased. 
The good creatures of God that have been profaned to idolatry 
may, in a change of their use, be employed to the holy service of 
their Maker. 

Though some Israelites were penitent under this humiliation, 
yet still many of them persisted in their wonted idolatry : the 
very household of Gideon's father were still Baalites, and his 
neighbours of Ophrah were in the same sin ; yea, if his father had 
been free, what did he with Baal's grove and altar? He dares 
not therefore take his father's servants, though he took his bul- 
locks, but commands his own. The master is best seen in the 
servants; Gideon's servants, amongst the idolatrous retinue of 
Joash, are religious, like their master; yet the misdevotion of 
Joash and the Orphrathites was not obstinate. Joash is easily 
persuaded by his sons, and easily persuades his neighbours, how 
unreasonable it is to plead for such a god as cannot speak for 
himself; to revenge his cause that could not defend himself. Let 
Baal plead for himself. One example of a resolute onset in a 
noted person, may do more good than a thousand seconds in the 
proceeding of an action. 

Soon are all the Midianites in an uproar to lose their god. They 
need not now be bidden to muster themselves for revenge. He 
hath no religion that can suffer an indignity offered to his god. 

Of all the instruments that God did use in so great a work, I 
find none so weak as Gideon ; who yet, of all others, was styled 
valiant : natural valour may well stand with spiritual cowardice. 
Before he knew that he spake with a God, he might have just 
colours for his distrust ; but after God had approved his presence 
and almighty power by fetching fire out of the stone, then to call 
for a watery sign of his promised deliverance was no other than 

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236 Gideoris preparation and victory. book ix. 

to pour water upon the fire of the Spirit. The former trial God 
gave unwished ; this, upon Gideon's choice and entreaty. The 
former miracle was strong enough to carry Gideon through his 
first exploit of ruinating the idolatrous grove and altar ; but now, 
when he saw the swarm of the Midianites and Amalekitcs about 
his ears, he calls for new aid ; and not trusting to his Abiezrites 
and his other thousands of Israel, he runs to God for a further 
assurance of victory. 

The refuge was good, but the manner of seeking it savours of 
distrust. There is nothing more easy than to be valiant when no 
peril appeareth : but when evils assail us upon unequal terms, it is 
hard and commendable not to be dismayed. If God had made 
that proclamation now which afterwards was commanded to be 
made by Gideon, Let the timorous depart, I doubt whether Israel 
had not wanted a guide : yet how willing is the Almighty to sa- 
tisfy our weak desires ! 

What tasks is he content to be set by our infirmity ! The fleece 
must be wet, and the ground dry ; the ground must be wet, and 
the fleece dry ; both are done : that now Gideon may see whe- 
ther he would make himself hard earth or yielding wool. God 
could at pleasure distinguish betwixt him and the Midianites; 
and pour down either mercies or judgment where he lists ; and 
that he was set on work by that God which can command all the 
elements, and they obey him. Fire, water, earth, serve both 
him, and, when he will, his. 

And now, when Gideon had this reciprocal proof of his ensuing 
success, he goes on, as he well may, harnessed with resolution, 
and is seen in the head of his troops, and in the face of the Mi- 
dianites. If we cannot make up the match with God when we 
have our own asking, we are worthy to sit out. 

Gideon had but thirty-two thousand soldiers at his heels. The 
Midianites covered all the valley like grasshoppers; and now, 
while the Israelites think, " We are too few, " God says, The 
people are too many. If the Israelites must have looked for 
victory from their fingers, they might well have said, " The Mi- 
dianites are too many for us;" but that God whose thoughts 
and words are unlike to men's, says, They are too many for me 
to give the Midianites into their hands. If human strength were 
to be opposed, there should have needed an equality ; but now 
God meant to give the victory, his care is not how to get it, but 
how not to lose or blemish the glory of it gotten. How jealous 

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cont. vi. Gideons preparation and victory. 237 

God is of his honour ! He is willing to give deliverance to Israel, 
but the praise of the deliverance he will keep to himself; and 
will shorten the means, that he may have the full measure of the 
glory. And if he will not allow lawful means to stand in the 
light of his honour, how will he endure it to be crossed so much 
as indirectly ? it is less danger to steal any thing from God than 
his glory. As a prince, which if we steal or clip his coin, may 
pardon it ; but if we go about to rob him of his crown, will not 
be appeased. 

There is nothing that we can give to God, of whom we receive 
all things : that which he is content to part with he gives us ; 
but he will not abide we should take ought from him which he 
would reserve for himself. It is all one with him to save with 
many as with few ; but he rather chooses to save by few, that all 
the victory may redound to himself. O God, what art thou the 
better for our praises, to whom, because thou art infinite, nothing 
can be added ? It is for our good that thou wouldst be magnified 
of us. teach us to receive the benefit of thy merciful favours, 
and to return thee the thanks. 

Gideon's army must be lessened. Who are so fit to be cashiered 
as the fearful? God bids him therefore proclaim license for all 
faint hearts to leave the field. An ill instrument may shame a 
good work : God will not glorify himself by cowards. As the 
timorous shall be without the gates of heaven, so shall they be 
without the lists of God's field. Although it was not their courage 
that should save Israel, yet without their courage God would not 
serve himself of them. Christianity requires men ; for if our spi- 
ritual difficulties meet not with high spirits, instead of whetting 
our fortitude they quail it. David's royal band of worthies was 
the type of the forces of the Church ; all valiant men, and able to 
encounter with thousands. 

Neither must we be strong only, but acquainted with our own 
resolutions ; not out of any carnal presumption, but out of a faith- 
ful reliance upon the strength of God, in whom when we are weak 
then we are strong. O thou white liver I doth but a foul word or 
a frown scare thee from Christ ? Doth the loss of a little land or 
silver disquiet thee? Doth but the sight of the Midianites in the 
valley strike thee? Home then, home to the world; thou art 
not then for the conquering band of Christ : if thou canst not re- 
solve to follow him through infamy, prisons, racks, gibbets, flames, 
depart to thine house, and save thy life to thy loss. 

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288 Gideon's preparation and victory. book ix. 

Methinks now Israel should have complained of indignity, and 
have said, " Why shouldst thou think, O Gideon, that there can 
be a cowardly Israelite ? And if the experience of the power and 
mercy of Ood be not enough to make us fearless, yet the sense 
of servitude must needs have made us resolute ; for who had not 
rather to be buried dead than quick ? Are we not fain to hide 
our heads in the caves of the earth, and to make our graves our 
houses ? Not so much as the very light that we can freely enjoy ; 
the tyranny of death is but short and easy to this of Midian ; and 
yet what danger can there be of that, sith thou hast so certainly 
assured us of God's promise of victory, and his miraculous con- 
firmation ? No, Gideon, those hearts that have brought us hither 
after thy colours can as well keep us from retiring." 

But now, who can but bless himself, to find of two and thirty 
thousand Israelites, two and twenty thousand cowards? Yet all 
these in Gideon's march made as fair a flourish of courage as the 
boldest. Who can trust the faces of men, that sees in the army 
of Israel above two for one timorous ? How many make a glorious 
show in the warfaring church, which, when they shall see danger 
of persecution, shall shrink from the standard of God ! Hope 
of safety, examples of neighbours, desire of praise, fear of cen- 
sures, coaction of laws, fellowship of friends, draw many into the 
field ; which, so soon as ever they see the adversary, repent of 
their conditions; and if they may cleanly escape, will be gone 
early from Mount Gilead. Can any man be offended at the num- 
ber of these shrinkers, when he sees but ten thousand Israelites 
left of two and thirty thousand in one morning \ 

These men, that would have been ashamed to go away by day, 
now drop away by night ; and if Gideon should have called any 
one of them back, and said, " Wilt thou flee?" would have made 
an excuse. The darkness is a fit veil for their paleness or blush- 
ing : fearfulness cannot abide the light. None of these thousands 
of Israel but would have been loath Gideon should have seen his 
face, while he said, " I am fearful ;" very shame holds some in 
their station whose hearts are already fled. And if we cannot 
endure that men should be witnesses of that fear which we might 
live to correct, how shall we abide once to show our fearful heads 
before that terrible Judge, when he calls us forth to the punish- 
ment of our fear ? the vanity of foolish hypocrites, that run upon 
the terrors of God, while they would avoid the shame of men ! 

How do we think the small remainder of Israel looked, when 

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cont. vi. Gideons preparation and victory. 289 

in the next morning muster they found themselves but ten thou- 
sand left ? How did they accuse their timorous countrymen, that 
had left but this handful to encounter the millions of Midian! 
And yet still God complains of too many, and upon his trial dis- 
misses nine thousand seven hundred more. His first trial was of 
the valour of their minds, his next is of the ability of their bodies. 
Those which, besides boldness, are not strong, patient of labour 
and thirst, willing to stoop, content with a little, (such were those 
that took up water with their hands) are not for the select band 
of God. The Lord of Hosts will serve himself of none but able 
champions : if he have therefore singled us into his combat, this* 
very choice argues that he finds that strength in us, which we 
cannot eonfess in ourselves. How can it but comfort us in our 
great trials, that if the Searcher of hearts did not find us fit he 
would never honour us with so hard an employment ? 

Now when there is not scarce left one Israelite to every thou- 
sand of the Midianites, it is seasonable with God to join battle. 
When God hath stripped us of all our earthly confidence, then 
doth he find time to give us victory ; and not till then, lest he 
should be a loser in our gain : like as at last he unclothes us of our 
body, that he may clothe us upon with glory. 

If Gideon feared when he had two and thirty thousand Israelites 
at his heels, is it any wonder if he feared when all these were 
shrunk into three hundred? Though his confirmation were more, 
yet his means were abated. Why was not Gideon rather the 
leader of those two and twenty thousand runaways, than of these 
three hundred soldiers ? infinite mercy and forbearance of God, 
that takes not vantage of so strong an infirmity ; but instead of cast- 
ing, encourages him ! That wise Providence hath prepared a dream 
in the head of one Midianite, an interpretation in the mouth of 
another, and hath brought Gideon to be an auditor of both, and 
hath made his enemies prophets of his victory, encouragers of the 
attempt, proclaimers of their own confusion. A Midianite dreams, 
a Midianite interprets. Our very dreams many times are not 
without God : there is a providence in our sleeping fancies : even 
the enemies of God may have visions, and power to construe them 
aright. How usually are wicked men forewarned of their own 
destruction ! To foreknow and not avoid, is but an aggravation of 

When Gideon heard good news, though from an enemy, he 
fell down and worshipped. To hear himself but a barley cake 
troubled him not, when he heard withal, that his rolling down the 

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240 Gideon's preparation and victory. book ix. 

hill should break the tents of Midian. It matters not how base 
we be thought, so we may be victorious. The soul that hath re- 
ceived full confirmation from God in the assurance of his salva- 
tion cannot but bow the knee, and by all gestures of body tell 
how it is ravished. 

I would have thought Gideon should rather have found full 
confirmation in the promise and act of God than in the dream of 
the Midianite. Dreams may be full of uncertainty ; God's under- 
takings are infallible : well therefore might the miracle of God 
give strength to the dream of a Midianite ; but what strength 
could a pagan's dream give to the miraculous act of God ? yet by 
this is Gideon thoroughly settled. When we are going, a little 
thing drives us on ; when we are come near to the shore, the very 
tide without sails is enough to put us into the harbour. 

We shall now hear no more of Gideon's doubts, but of his 
achievements: and though God had promised by these three 
hundred to chase the Midianites, yet he neglects not wise strata- 
gems to effect it. To wait for God's performance in doing nothing 
is to abuse that divine Providence which will so work that it will 
not allow us idle. 

Now when we would look that Gideon should give charge of 
whetting their swords, and sharpening their spears, and fitting 
their armour, he only gives order for empty pitchers, and lights, 
and trumpets. The cracking of these pitchers shall break in 
pieces this Midianitish clay : the kindling of these lights shall ex- 
tinguish the light of Midian : these trumpets sound no other than 
a soul-peal to all the host of Midian : there shall need nothing but 
noise and light to confound this innumerable army. 

And if the pitchers and brands and trumpets of Gideon did 
so daunt and dismay the proud troops of Midian and Araalek, 
who can we think shall be able to stand before the last terror, 
wherein the trumpet of the archangel shall sound, and the hea- 
vens shall pass away with a noise, and the elements shall be on a 
flame about our ears ? 

Any of the weakest Israelites would have served to have broken 
an empty pitcher, to have carried a light, and to have sounded a 
trumpet, and to strike a flying adversary. Not to the basest use 
will God employ an unworthy agent : he will not allow so much 
as a cowardly torchbearer. 

Those two and twenty thousand Israelites, that slipped away for 
fear, when the fearful Midianites fled, can pursue and kill them ; 
and can follow them at the heels whom they durst not look in 

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cont. vii. The revenge of Succoth and Penuel. 241 

the face. Our flight gives advantage to the feeblest adversary, 
whereas our resistance foileth the greatest : how much more, if 
we have once turned our backs upon a temptation, shall our spi- 
ritual enemies, which are ever strong, trample us in the dust! 
Resist, and they shall flee : stand still, and we shall see the salva- 
tion of the Lord. 

Judges viii. 

Gideon was of Manasseh : Ephraim and he were brothers, sons 
of Joseph : none of all the tribes of Israel fall out with their 
victorious leader but he. The agreement of brothers is rare : by 
how much nature hath more endeared them, by so much are 
their quarrels more frequent and dangerous. 

I did not hear the Ephraimites offering themselves into the 
front of the army before the fight ; and now they are ready to 
fight with Gideon, because they were not called to fight with 
Midian: I hear them expostulating after it; after the exploit 
done, cowards are valiant. Their quarrel was, that they were not 
called ; it had been a greater praise of their valour to have gone 
unbidden. What need was there to call them, when God com- 
plained of multitude, and sent away those which were called? 
None speak so big in the end of the fray as the fearfullest. 

Ephraim flies upon Gideon, whilst the Midianites fly from him. 
When Gideon should be pursuing his enemies, he is pursued by 
brethren ; and now is glad to spend that wind in pacifying of his 
own, which should have been bestowed in the slaughter of a 
common adversary. It is a wonder if Satan suffer us to be quiet 
at home, while we are exercised with wars abroad. Had not 
Gideon learned to speak fair as well as to smite, he had found 
work enough from the swords of Joseph's sons : his good words 
are as victorious as his sword ; his pacification of friends better 
than his execution of enemies. 

For aught I see, the envy of Israelites was more troublesome 
to Gideon than the opposition of Midian. He hath left the envy 
of Ephraim behind him ; before him he finds the envy of Succoth 
and Penuel. The one envies that he should overcome without 
them; the other, that he should say he had overcome. His 
pursuit leads him to Succoth ; there he craves relief and is re- 
pelled. Had he said, " Come forth and draw your sword with me 


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242 The revenge of Succoth and Penuel. book ix. 

against Zeba and Zalmunna," the motion had been but equal : a 
common interest challenges an universal aid : now he says but, 
Give morsels of bread to my followers^ he is turned off with a 
scorn ; he asks bread, and they give him a stone. Could he ask 
a more slender recompense of their deliverance, or a less reward 
of his victory ? Give morsels of bread. Before this act, all their 
substance had been too small an hire for their freedom from 
Midian ; now, when it is done, a morsel of bread is too much : 
well might he challenge bread where he gave liberty and life. 
It is hard if those which fight the wars of God may not have 
necessary relief; that while the enemy dies by them, they should 
die by famine. If they had laboured for God at home in peace, 
they had been worthy of maintenance ; how much more now, that 
danger is added to their toil ! Even very executioners look for 
fees ; but here were not malefactors, but adversaries to be slain : 
the sword of power and revenge was now to be wielded, not of 
quiet justice. Those that fight for our souls against spiritual 
powers may challenge bread from us; and it is shameless un- 
thankfulness to deny it. When Abraham had vanquished the 
five kings, and delivered Lot and his family, the king of Salem 
met him with bread and wine ; and now these sons of Abraham, 
after an equal victory, ask dry bread, and are denied by their 
brethren : craftily yet, and under pretence of a false title ; had 
they acknowledged the victory of Gideon, with what forehead 
could they have denied him bread ? 

Now I know not whether their faithlessness or envy lie in 
their way. Are the hands of Zeba and Zalmunna in thy hands f 
There were none of these princes of Succoth and Penuel but 
thought themselves better men than Gideon: that he therefore 
alone should do that which all the princes of Israel durst not 
attempt, they hated and scornod to hear. It is never safe to 
measure events by the power of the instrument; nor in the 
causes of God, whose calling makes the difference, to measure 
others by themselves : there is nothing more dangerous than 
in holy businesses to stand upon comparisons and our own reputa- 
tion ; sith it is reason God should both choose and bless where 
he lists. 

To have questioned so sudden a victory had been pardonable ; 
but to deny it scornfully was unworthy of Israelites. Carnal men 
think that impossible to others which themselves cannot do ; from 
hence are their censures, hence their exclamations. 

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cont. vii. The revenge of Succoth and Petiuel. 243 

Gideon hath vowed a fearful revenge, and now performs it 
The taunts of his brethren may not stay him from the pursuit 
of the Midianites : common enmities must first be opposed ; do- 
mestical, at more leisure. The princes of Succoth feared the 
tyranny of the Midianitish kings, but they more feared Gideon's 
victory. What a condition hath their envy drawn them into! 
That they are sorry to see God's enemies captive ; that Israel's 
freedom must be their death ; that the Midianites and they must 
tremble at one and the same revenger I To see themselves pri- 
soners to Zeba and Zalmunna had not been so fearful as to see 
Zeba and Zalmunna prisoners to Gideon. Nothing is more ter- 
rible to evil minds than to read their own condemnation in the 
happy success of others. Hell itself would want one piece of 
his torment, if the wicked did not know those whom they con- 
temned glorious. 

I know not whether more to commend Gideon's wisdom and 
moderation in the proceedings, than his resolution and justice in 
the execution of this business. I do not see him run furiously 
into the city and kill the next: his sword had not been so 
drunken with blood, that it should know no difference : but he 
writes down the names of the princes, and singles them forth 
for revenge. 

When the leaders of God come to Jericho or Ai, their slaughter 
was impartial : not a woman or child might live to tell news : but 
now that Gideon comes to a Succoth, a city of Israelites, the 
rulers are called forth to death ; the people are frighted with the 
example, not hurt with the judgment. To enwrap the innocent 
in any vengeance is a murderous injustice ; indeed, where all join 
in the sin all are worthy to meet in the punishment. It is like 
the citizens of Succoth could have been glad to succour Gideon, 
if their rulers had not forbidden ; they must therefore escape, 
while their princes perish. 

I cannot think of Gideon's revenge without horror ; that the 
rulers of Succoth should have their flesh torn from their backs 
with thorns and briers ; that they should be at once beaten and 
scratched to death : what a spectacle it was to see their bare 
bones looking somewhere through the bloody rags of their flesh 
and skin, and every stroke worse than the last ; death multiplied 
by torment! Justice is sometimes so severe, that a tender be- 
holder can scarce discern it from cruelty. 

I see the Midianites fare less ill ; the edge of the sword makes 

R 2 

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244 The revenge of Succotk and Penuel. book ix. 

a speedy and easy passage for tbeir lives, while these rebellious 
Israelites die lingering under thorns and briers ; envying those 
in their death whom their life abhorred. Howsoever men live 
or die without the pale of the Church, a wicked Israelite shall be 
sure of plagues. How many shall unwish themselves Christians 
when God's revenges have found them out 1 

The place (Peniel) where Jacob wrestled with Qod and pre- 
vailed, now hath wrestled against God, and takes a fall : they see 
God avenged, which would not believe him delivering. 

It was now time for Zeba and Zalmunna to follow those their 
troops to the grave whom they had led in the field. Those which 
the day before were attended with an hundred thirty-five thou- 
sand followers, have not so much as a page now left to weep for 
their death ; and have lived only to see all their friends and some 
enemies die for their sakes. 

Who can regard earthly greatness that sees one night change 
two of the greatest kings of the world into captives ? It had been 
both pity and sin that the heads of that Midianitish tyranny, into 
which they had drawn so many thousands, should have escaped 
that death. And yet if private revenge had not made Gideon 
just, I doubt whether they had died. The blood of his brothers 
calls for theirs, and awakes his sword to their execution. He 
both knew and complained of the Midianitish oppression under 
which Israel groaned ; yet the cruelty offered to all the thousands 
of his father's sons had not drawn the blood of Zeba and Zal- 
munna, if his own mother's sons had not bled by their hands. 

He that slew the rulers of Succoth and Penuel, and spared 
the people, now hath slain the people of Midian, and would have 
spared their rulers; but that God, which will find occasions to 
wind wicked men into judgment, will have them slain in a private 
quarrel, which had more deserved it for the public ; if we may 
not rather say, that Gideon revenged these as a magistrate, not 
as a brother. For governors to respect their own ends in public 
actions, and to wear the sword of justice in tbeir own sheath, it is 
a wrongful abuse of authority. The slaughter of Gideon's brethren 
was not the greatest sin of the Midianitish kings : this alone shall 
kill them, when the rest expected an unjust remission. 

How many lewd men hath God paid with some one sin for all 
the rest ! Some, that have gone away with unnatural filthiness 
and capital thefts, have clipped off their own days with their 
coin; others, whose bloody murders have been punished in a 

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cont. vn. The revenge of Succoth and Penuel. 245 

mutinous word; others, whose suspected felony hath paid the 
price of their unknown rape. O God, thy judgments are just, 
even when men's are unjust! 

Gideon's young son is bidden to revenge the death of his 
uncles. His sword had not yet learned the way to blood, espe- 
cially of kings, though in irons. Deadly executions require 
strength both of heart and face. How are those aged in evil that * 
can draw their swords upon the lawfully anointed of God I 

These tyrants plead not now for continuance of life, but for 
the haste of their death ; Fall thou upon us. Death is ever ac- 
companied with pain, which it is no marvel if we wish short. We 
do not more affect protraction of an easefut life, than speed in 
our dissolution; for here every pang that tends towards death 
renews it. To lie an hour under death is tedious; but to be 
dying a whole day, we think above the strength of human pa- 
tience. O what shall we then conceive of that death which knows 
no end ? As this life is no less frail than the body which it ani- 
mates, so that death is no less eternal than the soul which must 
endure it. 

For us to be dying so long as we now have leave to live is 
intolerable; and yet one only minute of that other tormenting 
death is worse than an age of this. O the desperate infidelity of 
careless men, that shrink at the thought of a momentary death, 
and fear not eternal I This is but a killing of the body ; that is a 
destruction of body and soul. 

Who is so worthy to wear the crown of Israel as he that won 
the crown from Midian ? Their usurpers were gone ; now they 
are headless. It is a doubt whether they were better to have 
had no kings or tyrants. They sue to Gideon to accept of the 
kingdom, and are repulsed : there is no greater example of mo* 
desty than Gideon. When the angel spake to him, he abased 
himself below all Israel ; when the Ephraimites contended with 
him, he prefers their gleanings to his vintage, and casts his 
honour at their feet; and now, when Israel proffers him that 
kingdom which he had merited, he refuses it. He that in over- 
coming would allow them to cry, The sivord of the Lord and of 
CHdeon, in governing will have none but the sword of the Lord. 

That which others plot, and sue, and swear, and bribe for, 
dignity and superiority, he seriously rejects; whether it were 
for that he knew God had not yet called them to a monarchy ; 
or rati* «- for that he saw the crown among thorns. What do 

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246 AbimelecKs usurpation. book ix. 

we ambitiously affect the command of these molehills of earth, 
when wise men have refused the proffers of kingdoms ? Why do 
we not rather labour for that kingdom which is free from all 
cares, from all uncertainty ? 

Yet he that refuses their crown calls for their earrings; al- 
though not to enrich himself, but religion. So long had God 
been a stranger to Israel, that now superstition goes current for 
devout worship. It were pity that good intentions should make 
any man wicked; here they did so. Ndirer man meant better 
than Gideon in his rich ephod ; yet this very act set all Israel on 
whoring : God had chosen a place and a service of his own. When 
the wit of man will be overpleasing God with better devices than 
his own, it turns to madness, and ends in mischief. 


Gideon refused the kingdom of Israel when it was offered. His 
seventy sons offered not to obtain that sceptre which their father's 
victory had deserved to make hereditary : only Abimelech, the 
concubine's son, sues and ambitiously plots for it. What could 
Abimelech see in himself, that he should overlook all his bre- 
thren ? If he look to his father, they were his equals ; if to his 
mother, they were his betters. Those that are most unworthy 
of honour are hottest in the chase of it ; whilst the conscience of 
better deserts bids men sit still, and stay to be either importuned 
or neglected. There can be no greater sign of unfitness than ve- 
hement suit. It is hard to say whether there be more pride or 
ignorance in ambition. 1 have noted this difference betwixt spi- 
ritual and earthly honour, and the clients of both ; we cannot be 
worthy of the one without earnest prosecution, nor with earnest 
prosecution worthy of the other : the violent obtain heaven ; only 
the meek are worthy to inherit the earth. 

That which an aspiring heart hath projected, it will find both 
argument and means to effect. If either bribes or favour will 
carry it, the proud man will not sit out. The Shechemites are 
fit brokers for Abimelech : that city, which once betrayed itself to 
utter depopulation in yielding to the suit of Hamor, now betrays 
itself and all Israel in yielding to the request of Abimelech. By 
them hath this usurper made himself a fair way to the throne. 

It was an easy question, " Whether will ye admit of the sons 

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cont. vin. Abimelech' s ttsurpation. 247 

of Gideon for your rulers, or of strangers? If of the sons of 
Gideon, whether of all or one ? If of one, whether of your own 
flesh and blood, or of others unknown ?" To cast off the sons of 
Gideon for strangers were unthankful, to admit of seventy kings 
in one small country were unreasonable ; to admit of any other 
rather than their own kinsmen were unnatural. Gideon's sons 
therefore must rule amongst all Israel ; one of his sons amongst 
those seventy ; and who should be that one but Abimelech ? Na- 
tural respects are the most dangerous corrupters of all elections. 
What hope can there be of worthy superiors in any free people, 
where nearness of blood carries it from fitness of disposition? 
Whilst they say, He is our brother, they are enemies to them- 
selves and Israel. 

Fair words have won his brethren; they, the Shechemites: 
the Shechemites furnish him with money; money with men: 
his men begin with murder ; and now Abimelech reigns alone : 
flattery, bribes, and blood, are the usual stairs of the ambitious. 
The money of Baal is a fit hire for murderers : that which ido- 
latry hath gathered is fitly spent upon treason : one devil is ready 
to help another in mischief: seldom ever is ill gotten riches 
better employed. It is no wonder if he that hath Baal his idol, 
now make an idol of honour. There was never any man that 
worshipped but one idol. 

Woe be to them that lie in the way of the aspiring : though 
they be brothers, they shall bleed ; yea, the nearer they are, the 
more sure is their ruin. Who would not now think that Abime- 
lech should find a hell in his breast after so barbarous and un- 
natural a massacre ? and yet behold, he is as senseless as the stone 
upon which the blood of his seventy brethren was spilt. Where 
ambition hath possest itself thoroughly of the soul, it turns the 
heart into steel, and makes it uncapable of a conscience : all sins 
will easily down with the man that is resolved to rise. 

Only Jotham fell not at that fatal stone with his brethren. It 
is an hard battle where none escapes. He escapes, not to reign, 
nor to revenge, but to be a prophet, and a witness of the venge- 
ance of God upon the usurper, upon the abettors ; he lives to tell 
Abimelech that he was but a bramble; a weed, rather than a 
tree; a right bramble indeed, that grew but out of the base 
hedge-row of a concubine ; that could not lift up his head from 
the earth, unless he were supported by some bush or pale of 
Shechem ; that had laid hold of the fleece of Israel, and had 

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248 Abimelecfis usurpation. book ix. 

drawn blood of all his brethren ; and lastly, that had no sub- 
stance in him, but the sap of vainglory and the pricks of cruelty. 
It was better than a kingdom to him, out of his obscure Beer*, to 
see the fire out of this bramble to consume those trees : the view 
of God's revenge is so much more pleasing to a good heart than 
his own glory by how much it is more just and full. 

There was never such a pattern of unthankfulness as these 
Israelites: they which lately thought a kingdom too small re- 
compence for Gideon and his sons, now think it too much for his 
seed to live ; and take life away from the sons of him that gave 
them both life and liberty. Yet if this had been some hundred 
of years after, when time had worn out the memory of Jerubbaal, 
it might have borne a better excuse. No man can hope to hold 
pace with time : the best names may not think scorn to be un- 
known to following generations ; but ere their deliverer was cold 
in his coffin, to pay his benefits, which deserved to be everlasting, 
with the extirpation of his posterity, it was more than savage. 
What can be looked for from idolaters ? If a man have cast off his 
God, he will easily cast off his friends : when religion is once gone, 
humanity will not stay long after. 

That which the people were punished afterwards for but de- 
siring, he enjoys. Now is Abimelech seated in the throne which 
his father refused, and no rival is seen to envy his peace. But 
how long will this glory last ? Stay but three years and ye shall 
see this bramble withered and burnt. The prosperity of the 
wicked is short and fickle. A stolen crown, though it may look 
fair, cannot be made of any but brittle stuff. All life is uncertain, 
but wickedness overruns nature. 

The evil spirit thrust himself into the plot of Abimelech's usur- 
pation and murder, and wrought with the Shechemites for both ; 
and now God sends the evil spirit betwixt Abimelech and the 
Shechemites to work the ruin of each other. The first could not 
have been without God ; but in the second, God challenges a part : 
revenge is his, where the sin is ours. It had been pity that the 
Shechemites should have been plagued by any other hand than 
Abimelech's : they raised him unjustly to the throne, they are the 
first that feel the weight of his sceptre. The foolish bird limes 
herself with that which grew from her own excretion : who won- 
ders to see the kind peasant stung with his own snake ? 

The breach begins at Shechem : his own countrymen fly off 
* [The place to which Jotham fled, Judges ix. 21.] 

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cont. viii. Abimeleclis usurpation. 249 

from their promised allegiance. Though all Israel should have 
fallen off from Abimelech, yet they of Shechem should have stuck 
close : it was their act, they ought to have made it good. How 
should good princes be honoured, when even Abimelech once set- 
tled cannot be opposed with safety ! Now they begin the revolt 
to the rest of Israel : yet if this had been done out of repentance, 
it had been praiseworthy ; but to be done out of a treacherous 
inconstancy was unworthy of Israelites. 

How could Abimelech hope for fidelity of them whom he had 
made and found traitors to his father's blood? No man knows 
how to be sure of him that is unconscionable : he that hath been 
unfaithful to one knows the way to be perfidious ; and is only 
fit for his trust that is worthy to be deceived ; whereas faithful- 
ness, besides the present good, lays a ground of further assurance. 
The friendship that is begun in evil cannot stand : wickedness, 
both of its own nature and through the curse of God, is ever un- 
steady ; and though there be not a disagreement in hell, (being 
but the place of retribution, not of action,) yet on earth there is 
no peace among the wicked ; whereas that affection which is knit 
in God is indissoluble. 

If the men of Shechem had abandoned their false god with 
their false king, and, out of a serious remorse and desire of satis- 
faction for their idolatry and blood, had opposed this tyrant, and 
preferred Jotham to his throne, there might have been both 
warrant for their quarrel and hope of success ; but now, if Abime- 
lech be a wicked usurper, yet the Shechemites are idolatrous 
traitors. How could they think that God would rather revenge 
Abimelech's bloody intrusion by them, than their treachery and 
idolatry by Abimelech ? When the quarrel is betwixt God and 
Satan, there is no doubt of the issue ; but when one devil fights 
with another, what certainty is there of the victory ? Though the 
cause of God had been good, yet it had been safe for them to look 
to themselves : the unworthiness of the agent many times curses 
a good enterprise. 

No sooner is a secret dislike kindled in any people against 
their governors, than there is a Gaal ready to blow the coals. It 
were a wonder if ever any faction should want a head ; as con- 
trarily, never any man was so ill as not to have some favourers. 
Abimelech hath a Zebul in the midst of Shechem : lightly, all 
treasons are betrayed even with some of their own : his intelligence 
brings the sword of Abimelech upon Shechem, who now hath de- 

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250 AbimekcKs usurpation. book ix. 

molished the city and sown it with salt. the just successions of 
the revenges of God ! Gideon's ephod is punished with the blood 
of his sons ; the blood of his sons is shed by the procurement of 
the Shechemites ; the blood of the Shechemites is shed by Abirae- 
lech ; the blood of Abimelech is spilt by a woman. The retaliations 
of God are sure and just, and make a more due pedigree than the 
descent of nature. , 

The pursued Shechemites fly to the house of their god Berith ; 
now they are safe : that place is at once a fort and a sanctuary. 
Whither should we fly in our distress but to our God ? And now 
this refuge shall teach them what a God they have served. The 
jealous God whom they had forsaken hath them now where he 
would, and rejoices at once to be avenged of their god and them. 
Had they not made the house of Baal their shelter, they had not 
died so fearfully. Now, according to the prophecy of Jotham, , 
a fire goes out of the bramble and consumes these cedars, and 
their eternal flames begin in the house of their Berith : the con* 
fusion of wicked men rises out of the false deities which they have 
doted on. 

Of all the conspirators against Gideon's sons, only Abimelech 
yet survives, and his day is now coming. His success against 
Shechem hath filled his heart with thoughts of victory. He hath 
caged up the inhabitants of Thebez within their tower also ; and 
what remains for them but the same end with their neighbours ? 
And behold, while his hand is busy in putting fire to the door of 
their tower, which yet was not high, (for then he could not have 
discerned a woman to be his executioner,) a stone from a woman's 
hand strikes his head. His pain in dying was not so much as his 
indignation to know by whom he died ; and rather will he die 
twice than a woman shall kill him. If God had not known his 
stomach so big, he had not vexed him with the impotency of his 
victor : God finds a time to reckon with wicked men for all the 
arrearages of their sins. Our sins are not more our debts to God* 
than his judgments are his debts to our sins, which at last he will 
be sure to pay home. 

There now lies the greatness of Abimelech; upon one stone 
had he slain his seventy brethren, and now a stone" slays him ; 
his head had stolen the crown of Israel, and now his head is smit- 
ten : and what is Abimelech better that he was a king ? What 
difference is there between him and any of his seventy brethren 
whom he murdered, save only in guiltiness ? They bear but th$ir 

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cont. vii. AbimelecHs usurpation. 251 

own blood, he the weight of all theirs. How happy a thing is it 
to live well ! that our death, as it is certain, so may be comfort- 
able : what a vanity is it to insult in the death of them whom we 
must follow the same way ! 

The tyrant hath his payment, and that time which *he should 
have bestowed in calling for mercy to God, and washing his soul 
with the last tears of contrition, he vainly spends in deprecating 
an idle reproach ; Kill me, that it may not be said he died by a 
woman : a fit conclusion for such a life. The expectation of true 
and endless torment doth not so much vex him as the frivolous re- 
port of a dishonour ; neither is he so much troubled with " Abi- 
melech is frying in hell," as " Abimelech is slain by a woman." So 
vain fools are niggardly of their reputation and prodigal of their 
souls. Do we not see them run wilfully into the field, into tho 
grave, into hell ? and all, lest it should be said, " They have but 
as much fear as wit." 








J. H. 


JEPHTHAH.— Judges xi. 
Israel, that had now long gone a whoring from God, hath been 
punished by the regiment of the concubine's son, and at last seeks 
protection from the son of a harlot : it is no small misery to be 

* [Created Baron Danvers of Dantesey, 1604, afterwards by King Charles I. 
Earl of Danby.] 

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252 Jephthah. book x. 

obliged unto the unworthy. The concubine's son made suit to 
them, they make suit to the son of the harlot. It was no fault of 
Jephthah that he had an ill mother, yet is he branded with the 
indignity of his bastardy ; neither would God conceal this blemish 
of nature which Jephthah could neither avoid nor remedy. God, 
to show his detestation of whoredom, revenges it not only upon 
the acton?, but upon their issue : hence he hath shut out the base 
son from the congregation of Israel to the tenth generation b , that 
a transient evil might have a during reproach attending it; and 
that after the death of the adulterer, yet his shame might live. 
But that God, who justly ties men to his laws, will not abide that 
we should tie him to our laws or his own : he can both rectify and 
ennoble the blood of Jephthah. That no man should be too much 
discouraged with the errors of his propagation, even the base son 
of man may be the lawfully begotten of God ; and though he be 
cast out from the inheritance of his brethren upon earth, may be 
admitted to the kingdom of Israel. 

I hear no praise of the lawful issue of Gilead ; only this mis- 
begotten son is commended for his valour, and set at the stern 
of Israel : the common gifts of God respect not the parentage or 
blood, but are indifferently scattered where he pleases to let them 
fall. The choice of the Almighty is not guided by our rules ; as 
in spiritual, so in earthly things, it is not in him that willeth. If 
God would have men glory in these outward privileges, he would 
bestow them upon none but the worthy. 

Now who can be proud of strength or greatness, when he sees 
him that is not so honest, yet is more valiant, more advanced ? 
Had not Jephthah been base, he had not been thrust out ; and if 
he had not been thrust out from his brethren, he had never been 
the captain of Israel. By contrary paces to ours, it pleaseth God 
to come to his own ends : and how usually doth he look the con- # 
trary way to that he moves! No man can measure the con- 
clusion of God's act by his beginning : he that fetches good out 
of evil raises the glory of men out of their ruin. Men love to go 
the nearest way, and often fail ; God commonly goes about, and 
in his own time comes surely home. 

The Gileadites were not so forward to expel Jephthah as glad to 

recall him : no Ammonite threatened them when they parted with 

such an helper ; now, whom they cast out in their peace, they fetch 

home in their danger and misery. That God who never gave 

b [Deut. xxiii. a.] 

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cont. t. Jephthah. 253 

aught in vain will find a time to make use of any gift that he 
hath bestowed upon men : the valour of Jephthah shall not rust 
in his secrecy, but be employed to the common preservation of 
Israel. Necessity will drive us to seek up all our helps, even 
those whom our wantonness hath despised. 

How justly are the suits of our need upbraided with the errors 
of our prosperity ! The elders of Gilead now hear of their an- 
cient wrong, and dare not find fault with their exprobration ; Did 
ye net hate me, and expel me out of my father's house t How 
then come ye now to me, in time of tribulation t The same ex- 
postulation that Jephthah makes with Gilead, God also at the same 
time makes with Israel ; Ye have forsaken me, and served other 
gods ; wherefore should I deliver you any more f Oo and cry 
unto the gods whom ye have served. As we, so God also, finds it 
seasonable to tell his children of their faults while he is whipping 
them. It is a safe 2nd wise course to make much of those in our 
peace whom we must make use of in our extremity ; else it is but 
just that we should be rejected of those whom we have rejected. 

Can we look for any other answer from God than this ? " Did 
ye not drive me out of your houses, out of your hearts, in the 
time of your health and jollity ? Did ye not plead the strictness of 
my charge and the weight of my yoke ? Did not your wilful 
sins expel me from your souls i What do you now, crouching and 
creeping to me in the evil day ?" Surely, O God, it is but justice 
if thou be not found of those which were glad to lose thee ; it is 
thy mercy, if, after many checks and delays, thou wilt be found 
at last. Where an act cannot be reversed, there is no amends but 
confession ; and if God himself take up with this satisfaction, He 
that confesses shall find mercy, how much more should men hold 
themselves well paid with words of humility and deprecation 1 

Jephthah's wisdom had not been answerable to his valour, if he 
had not made his match beforehand. He could not but know 
how treacherously Israel had dealt with Gideon. We cannot make 
too sure work when we have to do with unfaithful men. It 
hath been an old policy, to serve ourselves of men; and after 
our advantage, to turn them up. He bargains therefore for his 
sovereignty ere he win it ; Shall I be your head t We are all 
naturally ambitious, and are ready to buy honour even with 
hazard. And if the hope of a troublesome superiority encouraged 
Jephthah to fight against the forces of Ammon, what heart should 
we take in the battles of God against spiritual wickednesses, whfen 

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254 Jephthah. book x. 

Hie God of heaven hath said, To him that overcomes will I give 
power over nations, and to sit with me in my throne ? Oh that 
we could bend our eyes upon the recompense of our reward; how 
willingly should we march forward against these mighty Ammon- 
ites I Jephthah is noted for his valour ; and yet he entreats with 
Ammon ere he fights. To make war any other than our last 
remedy is not courage, but cruelty and rashness ; and now, when 
reason will not prevail, he betakes himself to his sword. 

As God began the war with Jephthah in raising up his heart to 
that pitch of fortitude, so Jephthah began his war at God, in 
craving victory from him, and pouring out his vow to him : his 
hand took hold of his sword ; his heart of God : therefore he, 
whom the Old Testament styles valiant, the New styles faithful ; 
he who is commended for his strength dares trust in none but 
the arm of God ; If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand. 
If Jephthah had not looked upward for his victory, in vain had the 
Gileadites looked up to him. This is the disposition of all good 
hearts ; they look to their sword or their bow as servants, not as 
patrons ; and whilst they use them, trust to God. If we could do 
so in all our businesses, we should have both more joy in their 
success, and loss discomfort in their miscarriage. 

It was his zeal to vow ; it was his sin to vow rashly. Jacob 
his forefather, of whom he learned to vow, might have taught 
him a better form ; If God will be with me 9 then shall the Lord 
be my Ood. It is well with vows when the thing promised 
makes the promise good ; but when Jephthah says, Whatsoever 
thing cometh out of the doors of my house shall be t/ce Lord's, or 
I will offer it for a burnt sacrifice, his devotion is blind, and his 
good affection overruns his judgment; for what if a dog or a 
swine or an ass had met him ? where had been the promise of 
his consecration ? 

Vows are as they are made. Like unto scents, if they be of ill 
composition nothing offends more ; if well tempered, nothing is 
more pleasant. Either certainty of evil, or uncertainty of good, 
or impossibility of performance, makes vows no service to God. 
When we vow what we cannot, or what we ought not do, we mock 
God instead of honouring him. It is a vain thing for us to go 
about to catch God hoodwinked. The conscience shall never find 
peace in any way but that which we see before us, and which we 
know safe, both in the kind and circumstances. There is no 
comfort in " Peradventure I may please God." 

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cont. i. Jephthah. 255 

What good child will not take part of the parent's joy? If 
Jephthah return with trophies, it is no marvel if his daughter 
meet him with timbrels : O that we eould be so affected with the 
glorious acts of our heavenly Father ! Thou subduest thine ene- 
mies, and mightily deliverest thy people, O God ; a song waiteth 
for thee in Sion. 

Who would have suspected danger in a dutiful triumph ? Well 
might Jephthah's daughter have thought, " My sex forbade me to 
do any thing towards the help of my father's victory ; I can do 
little if I cannot applaud it : if nature have made me weak, yet 
not unthankful; nothing forbids my joy to be as strong as the 
victor's : though I might not go out with my father to fight, yet 
I may meet him with gratulations ; a timbrel may become these 
hands which were unfit for a sword ; this day hath made me the 
daughter of the head of Israel ; this day hath made both Israel 
free, my father a conqueror, and myself in him noble : and shall 
my affection make no difference ? What must my father needs think, 
if he shall find me sitting sullenly at home, while all Israel strives 
who shall run first to bless him with their acclamations? Should 
I only be insensible of his and the common happiness?" 

And now, behold, when she looks for most thanks, her father 
answers the measures of her feet with the knockings of his breast, 
and weeps at her music, and tears his clothes to look upon her 
whom he best loved ; and gives no answer to her timbrels but, 
Ala*! my daughter, thou art of them that trouble me: her joy 
alone hath changed the day, and lost the comfort of that victory 
which she enjoyed to see won. It falls out often, that those 
times and occasions which promise most contentment prove most 
doleful in the issue : the heart of this virgin was never lifted up 
so high as now, neither did any day of her life seem happy but 
this ; and this only proves the day of her solemn and perpetual 
mourning : as contrarily, the times and events which we have 
most distrusted prove most beneficial. It is good in a fair morn* 
ing to think of the storm that may arise ere night, and to enjoy 
both good and evil fearfully. 

Miserable is that devotion which troubles us in the perform- 
ance ; nothing is more pleasant than the acts of true piety ; 
Jephthah might well see the wrong of this religion in the distaste 
of it ; yet, while himself had troubled his daughter, he says, Alas! 
my daughter, thou art of them that trouble me : she did but her 
duty ; he did what he should not ; yet he would be rid of the 

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256 JephthaL hook x. 

blame, though he cannot of the smart. No man is willing to own 
a sin ; the first man shifted it from himself to his wife ; this, from 
himself to his daughter : he was ready to accuse another, which 
only committed it himself. It were happy if we could be as loath 
to commit sin as to acknowledge it. 

The inconsideration of this vow was very tough and settled : 
/ have opened my mouth, and cannot go back. If there were 
just cause to repent, it was the weakness of his zeal to think that 
a vow could bind him to evil : an unlawful vow is ill made, but 
worse performed. It were pity this constancy should light upon 
any but a holy object. No loan can make a truer debt than our 
vow ; which if we pay not in our performance, God will pay us 
with judgment. We have all opened our mouths to God in that 
initial and solemn vow of Christianity ; O that we could not go 
back ! So much more is our vow obligatory, by how much the 
thing vowed is more necessary. 

Why was the soul of Jephthah thus troubled, but because he 
saw the entail of his new honour thus suddenly cut off? He saw 
the hope of posterity extinguished in the virginity of his daughter. 
It is natural to us to affect that perpetuity in our succession, which 
is denied us in our persons ; our very bodies would emulate the 
eternity of the soul. And if God have built any of us an house on 
earth, as well as prepared us an house in heaven, it must be con* 
fessed a favour worth our thankfulness ; but as the perpetuity of 
our earthly houses is uncertain, so let us not rest our hearts upon 
that, but make sure of the house which is eternal in the heavens. 

Doubtless the goodness of the daughter added to the father's 
sorrow. She was not more loving than religious ; neither is she 
less willing to be the Lord's than her father's : and as provoking 
her father to that which he thought piety, though to her own 
wrong, she says, If thou hast opened thy mouth unto tJve Lord, 
do with me as thou hast promised. Many a daughter would 
have dissuaded her father with tears, and have wished rather her 
father's impiety than her own prejudice; she sues for the smart 
of her father's vow. How obsequious should children be to the 
will of their careful parents, even in their final disposition in the 
world, when they see this holy maid willing to abandon the world 
upon the rash vow of a father ! They are the living goods of 
their parents, and must therefore wait upon the bestowing of their 
owners. They mistake themselves which think they are their 
own ; if this maid had vowed herself to God without her father, it 

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cont. ii. Samson conceived. 257 

had been in his power to abrogate it ; but now that he vowed her 
to God without herself, it stands in force. But what shall we say 
to those children whom their parents' tow and care cannot make 
so much as honest ; that will be no other than godless, in spite of 
their baptism and education ? what, but that they are given their 
parents for a curse, and shall one day find what it is to be re* 

All her desire is, that she may have leave to bewail that which 
she must be forced to keep, her virginity : if she had not held it 
an affliction, there had been no cause to bewail it ; it had been 
no thank to undergo it, if she had not known it to be a cross. 
Tears are no argument of impatience; we may mourn for that 
we repine not to bear. How comes that to be a meritorious virtue 
under the gospel which was but a punishment under the law ? 
The daughters of Israel had been too lavish of their tears if vir- 
ginity had been absolutely good : what injury should it have been 
to lament that spiritual preferment which they should rather have 
emulated ? 

While Jephthah's daughter was two months in the mountains, 
she might have had good opportunity to escape her father's vow ; 
but as one whom her obedience tied as close to her father as his 
vow tied him to God, she returns to take up that burden which 
she had bewailed to foresee : if we be truly dutiful to our Father 
in heaven, we would not slip our necks out of the yoke though we 
might, nor fly from his commands though the door were open. 

SAMSON CONCEIVED.— Judges xiii. 
Of extraordinary persons, the very birth and conception is ex- 
traordinary. God begins his wonders betimes in those whom he 
will make wonderful. There was never any of those which were 
miraculously conceived whose lives were not notable and singular. 
The presages of the womb and the cradle are commonly answered 
in the life : it is not the use of God to cast away strange begin- 
nings. If Manoah's wife had not been barren, the angel had not 
been sent to her : afflictions have this advantage, that they occa- 
sion God to show that mercy to us whereof the prosperous are 
incapable ; it would not beseem a mother to he so indulgent to a 
healthful child as to a sick. It was to the woman that the angel 
appeared, not to the husband ; whether for that the reproach of 


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258 Samson conceived. book x. 

barrenness lay upon her more heavily than on the father, or for 
that the birth of the child should cost her more dear than her 
husband, or lastly, for that the difficulty of this news was more in 
her conception than in his generation : as Satan lays his batteries 
ever to the weakest, so contrarily God addrcsseth his comforts to 
those hearts that have most need; as at the first, because Eve 
had most reason to be dejected, for that her sin had drawn man 
into the transgression, therefore the cordial of God most respecteth 
her ; The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head. 

As a physician first tells the state of the disease with his symp- 
toms, and then prescribes ; so doth the angel of God first tell the 
wife of Manoah her complaint, then her remedy ; Thou art bar- 
ren. All our afflictions are more noted of that God which sends 
them than of the patient that suffers them ; how can it be but 
less possible to endure any thing that he knows not, than that he 
inflicteth not ? He saith to one, " Thou art sick ;" to another, 
" Thou art poor ;" to a third, "Thou art defamed ;" " Thou art 
oppressed," to another: that all -seeing eye takes notice from 
heaven of every man's condition, no less than if he should send an 
angel to tell us he knew it : his knowledge, compared with his 
mercy, is the just comfort of all our sufferings. O God, we are 
many times miserable, and feel it not ; thou knowest even those 
sorrows which we might have ; thou knowest what thou hast done : 
do what thou wilt 

Thou art barren. Not that the angel would upbraid the poor 
woman with her affliction : but therefore he names her pain, that 
the mention of her cure might be so much more welcome : com- 
fort shall come unseasonably to that heart which is not appre- 
hensive of his own sorrow : we must first know our evils ere we 
can quit them. It is the just method of every true angel of God 
first to let us see that whereof either we do or should complain, 
and then to apply comforts ; like as a good physician first pulls 
down the body, and then raises it with cordials. If we cannot 
abide to hear of our faults, we are not capable of amendment. 

If the angel had first said, Thou shalt conceive, and not pre- 
mised, Thou art barren f I doubt whether she had conceived faith 
in her soul of that infant which her body should conceive : now 
his knowledge of her present estate makes way for the assurance 
of the future. Thus ever it pleases our good God to leave a pawn 
of his fidelity with us ; that we should not distrust him in what he 
will do, when we find him faithful in that which we see done. 

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coxt. n. Samson conceived. 259 

It is good reason that he, which gives the son to the barren 
mother should dispose of him and diet him both in the womb first 
and after in the world. The mother must first be a Nazarite, 
that her son may be so. While she was barren she might drink 
what she would ; but now that she shall conceive a Samson her 
choice must be limited. There is an holy austerity that ever fol- 
lows the especial calling of God; the worldling may take his 
full scope, and deny his back and belly nothing ; but he that hath 
once conceived that blessed burden whereof Samson was a type 
most be strict and severe to himself; neither his tongue, nor his 
palate, nor his hand, may run riot : those pleasures which seemed 
not unseemly for the multitude are now debarred him. 

We borrow more names of *>ur Saviour than one ; as we are 
Christians, so we are Nazarites; the consecration of our God is 
upon our heads, and therefore our very hair should be holy. Our 
appetite must be curbed, our passions moderated, and so estranged 
from the world, that in the loss of parents or children mature 
may not make us forget grace. What doth the looseness of vain 
men persuade them that God is not curious, when they see him 
thus precisely ordering the very diet of his Nazarites ? 

Nature pleads for liberty ; religion for restraint : not that there 
is more uncleanness in the grape than in the fountain ; but that 
wine finds more uncleanness in us than water ; and that the high 
feed is not so fit for devotion as abstinence. Who sees not a cere- 
mony in this command ? which yet carries with it this substance 
of everlasting use, that God and the belly will not admit of one 
servant ; that quaffing and cramming is not the way to heaven : a 
drunken Nazarite is a monster among men. 

We have now more scope than the ancient : not drinking of 
wine, but drunkenness with wine is forbidden to the evangelical 
Nazarite ; wine wherein is excess. that ever Christians should 
quench the Spirit of God with a liquor of God's own making ! 
That they should suffer their hearts to be drowned with wine, 
and should so live as if the practice of the gospel were quite con- 
trary to the rule of the law ! 

The mother must conceive the only giant of Israel, and yet 
must drink but water ; neither must the child touch any other 
cup. Never wine made so strong a champion as water did here. 
The power of nourishment is not in the creatures, but in their 
Maker. Daniel and his three companions kept their complexion 
with the same diet wherewith Samson got his strength : he that 

S 2 

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260 Samson conceived. book x. 

gave that power to the grape can give it to the stream. O God, 
how justly do we raise our eyes from our tables unto Thee, which 
canst make water nourish and wine enfeeble us ! 

Samson had not a better mother than Manoah had a wife ; she 
hides not the good news in her own bosom, but imparts it to her 
husband : that wife hath learned to make a true use of her head, 
which is ever ready to consult with him about the messages of 
God. If she were made for his helper, he is much more hers. 
Thus should good women make amends for their first offence ; 
that as Eve no sooner had received an ill motion but she delivered 
it to her husband, so they should no sooner receive good than 
they should impart it. 

Manoah (like one which in those lewd times had not lost his 
acquaintance with God), so soon as he hears the news, falls down 
upon his knees. I do not hear him call forth and address his 
servants to all the coasts of heaven, as the children of the pro- 
phets did in the search of Elias, to find out the messenger ; but 
I see him rather look straight up to that God which sent him ; 
My Lord, I pray thee let that man of God come again. As a 
straight line is the shortest, the nearest cut to any blessing is to 
go by heaven : as we may not sue to God and neglect means, so 
we must sue to God for those means which we shall use. 

When I see the strength of Manoah's faith, I marvel not that 
he had a Samson to his son. He saw not the messenger, he heard 
not the errand, he examined not the circumstances ; yet now he 
takes thought, not whether he shall have a son, but how he shall 
order the son which he must have ; and sues to God, not for the 
son which as yet he had not, but for the direction of governing 
him when he should be. Zachariah heard the same message, and 
craving a sign lost that voice wherewith he craved it : Manoah 
seeks no sign for the promise, but counsel for himself; and yet 
that angel spake to Zachariah himself, this only to the wife of 
Manoah ; that in the temple, like a glorious spirit ; this in the 
house or field, like some prophet or traveller ; that to a priest, 
this to a woman. All good men have not equal measures of faith. 
The bodies of men have not more differences of stature than their 
graces. Credulity to men is faulty and dangerous, but in the mat- 
ters of God is the greatest virtue of a Christian. Happy are they 
that have not seen, yet believed. True faith takes all for granted, 
yea for performed, which is once promised. 

He that before sent his angel unasked, will much more send 

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cont. ii. Samson conceived. 261 

him again upon entreaty. Those heavenly messengers are ready 
both to obey their Maker and to relieve his children. Never any 
man prayed for direction in his duties to God, and was repulsed : 
rather will God send an angel from heaven to instruct us, than 
our good desires shall be frustrate. 

Manoah prayed, the angel appeared again ; not to him, but to 
his wife. It had been the shorter way to have come first to the 
man whose prayers procured his presence : but as Manoah went di- 
rectly and immediately to God, so God comes mediately and about 
to him, and will make her the means to bear the message to her 
husband who must bear him the son. Both the blessing and the 
charge are chiefly meant to her. 

It was a good care of Manoah when the angel had given order 
to his wife alone for the governing of the child's diet, to proffer 
himself to this charge ; How shall we order the child ? As both 
the parents have their part in the being of their children, so 
should they have in their education. It is both unreasonable and 
unnatural in husbands to cast this burden upon the weaker vessel 
alone : it is no reason that she, which alone hath had the pain of 
their birth, should have the pain of their breeding. 

Though the charge be renewed to the wife, yet the speech is 
directed to the husband : the act must be hers, his must be the 
oversight; Let her observe all J commanded her. The head must 
overlook the body : it is the duty of the husband to be careful that 
the wife do her duty to God. 

As yet Manoah saw nothing but the outside of a man, and there- 
fore offers the angel an answerable entertainment, wherein there 
is at once hospitality and thankfulness. No man shall bring him 
good news from God and go away unrecompensed. How forward 
he is to feast him whom he took for a prophet ! Their feet should 
be so much more beautiful that bring us news of salvation, by how 
much their errand is better. 

That Manoah might learn to acknowledge God in this man, he 
sets off the proffer of his thankfulness from himself to God, and 
(as the same angel which appeared to Gideon) turns his feast into 
a sacrifice. And now he is Manoah's solicitor to better thanks 
than he offered. How forward the good angels are to incite us 
unto piety 1 Either this was the Son himself, which said it was his 
meat and drink to do bis Father's will, or else one of his spiritual 
attendants of the same diet. We can never feast the angels better 
than with our hearty sacrifices to God. Why do not we learn this 

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262 Samson conceived. book x. 

lesson of them whom we propound to ourselves as patterns of our 
obedience ? We shall be once like the angels in condition, why are 
we not in the mean time in our dispositions ? If we do not provoke 
and exhort one another to godliness, and do care more for a feast 
than a sacrifice, our appetite is not angelical, but brutish. 

It was an honest mind in Manoah, while he was addressing a 
sacrifice to God, yet not to neglect his messenger : fain would he 
know whom to honour. True piety is not uncivil, but while it 
magnifies the Author of all blessings, is thankful to the means. 
Secondary causes are worthy of regard ; neither need it detract 
any thing from the praise of the agent to honour the instrument. 
It is not only rudeness, but injustice in those which can be content 
to hear good news from God with contempt of the bearers. 

The angel will neither take nor give, but conceals his very 
name from Manoah. All honest motions are not fit to be yielded 
to! good intentions are not always sufficient grounds of con- 
descent. If we do sometimes ask what we know not, it is no 
marvel if we receive not what we ask. In some cases the angel 
of God tells his name unasked, as Gabriel to the Virgin ; here, 
not by entreaty. If it were the Angel of the Covenant, he had 
as yet no name but Jehovah : if a created angel, he had no com- 
mission to tell his name; and a faithful messenger hath not a 
word beyond his charge. Besides that, he saw it would be of 
more use for Manoah to know him really than by words. O the 
bold presumption of those men, which (as if they had long so- 
journed in heaven, and been acquainted with all the holy legions 
of spirits) discourse of their orders, of their titles, when this onto 
angel stops the mouth of a better man than they, with — Why dost 
thou ask after my name, which is secret t Secret things to God ; 
revealed, to us and our children. * 

No word can be so significant as actions : the act of the angel 
tells best who he was ; he did wonderfully : wonderful therefore 
was his name. So soon as ever the flame of the sacrifice ascended, 
he mounted up in the smoke of it, that Manoah might see the sa- 
crifice and the messenger belonged both to one God ; and might 
know both whence to acknowledge the message, and whence to 
expect the performance. 

Gideon's angel vanished at his sacrifice, but this in the sacrifice ; 
that Manoah might at once see both the confirmation of bis pro- 
mise and the acceptation of his obedience ; while the angel of God 
vouchsafed to perfume himself with that holy smoke, and carry 

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cont. in. Sa$nson J s marriage. 263 

the scent of it up into heaven. Manoah believed before, and 
craved no sign to assure him ; God voluntarily confirms it to him 
above his desire ; To him that hath shall be given : where there 
are beginnings of faith, the mercy of God will add perfection. 

How do we think Manoah and his wife looked to see this spec- 
tacle ? They had not spirit enough left to look one upon another; 
but instead of looking up cheerfully to heaven they fall down to 
the earth upon their faces ; as weak eyes are dazzled with that 
which should comfort them. This is the infirmity of our nature, 
to be afflicted with the causes of our joy ; to be astonished with 
our confirmations ; to conceive death in that vision of God wherein 
our life and happiness consist. If this homely sight of the angel 
did so confound good Manoah, what shall become of the enemies 
of God, when they shall be brought before the glorious tribunal of 
the God of angels ? 

I marvel not now that the angel appeared both times rather to 
the wife of Manoah : her faith was the stronger of the two. It 
falls out sometimes that the weaker vessel is fuller, and that of 
more precious liquor : that wife is no helper which is not ready to 
give spiritual comfort to her husband. The reason was good and 
irrefragable; If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not 
have received a burnt offering from us. God will not accept 
gifts where he intends punishment and professes hatred. The sa- 
crifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord. If we can find 
assurance of God's acceptation of our sacrifices, we may be sure 
he loves our persons. If I incline to wickedness in my heart, the 
Lord will not liear me; but the Lord hath heard me. 


Of all the deliverers of Israel, there is none of whom are re- 
ported so many weaknesses, or so many miracles, as of Samson. 
The news, which the angel told of his conception and education 
was not more strange than the news of his own choice : he but 
sees a daughter of the Philistines, and falls in love. All this 
strength begins in infirmity ; one maid of the Philistines overcomes 
that champion which was given to overcome the Philistines. 

Even he that was dieted with water found heat of unfit desires. 
As his body was strong, notwithstanding that fare, so were his 
passions. Without the gift of continency, a low feed may impair 

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264 Samson** marriage. book x. 

nature, but not inordination. To follow nothing but the eye in the 
choice of his wife was a lust unworthy of a Nazarite : this is to 
make the sense not a counsellor, but a tyrant. 

Yet was Samson, in this very impotency, dutiful : he did not in 
the presumption of his strength ravish her forcibly ; he did not 
make up a clandestine match without consulting with his parents, 
but he makes suit to them for consent ; Give me her to wife : as 
one that could be master of his own act though not of his passion ; 
and as one that had learned so to be a suitor, as not to forget 
himself to be a son. Even in this deplored state of Israel, children 
durst not presume to be their own carvel's; how much less is 
this tolerable in a well gnided and Christian commonwealth ! 
Whosoever now dispose of themselves without their parents, they 
do wilfully unchild themselves, and change natural affection for 

It is no marvel if Manoah and his wife were astonished at this 
unequal motion of their son. " Did not the angel/' thought they, 
" tell us that this child should be consecrated to God ; and must 
he begin his youth in unholy wedlock ? Did not the angel say 
that our son should begin, to save Israel from the Philistines ; and 
is he now captived in his affections by a daughter of the Philis- 
tines? Shall our deliverance from the Philistines begin in an 
alliance ? Have we been so scrupulously careful that he should 
eat no unclean thing, and shall we now consent to an heathenish 
match ? Now, therefore, they gravely endeavour to cool this intem- 
perate heat of his passion with good counsel ; as those which well 
knew the inconveniences of an unequal yoke ; corruption in reli- 
gion, alienation of affections, distraction of thoughts, connivance 
at idolatry, death of zeal, dangerous underminings, and, lastly, an 
unholy seed. Who can blame them, if they were unwilling to 
call a Philistine daughter ? 

I wish Manoah could speak so loud, that all our Israelites 
might hear him ; Is there never a woman among the daughters 
of thy brethren, or among all God's people, that thou goest to 
take a wife of the tmcircumcised Philistines f If religion be any 
other than a cipher, how dare we not regard it in our most im- 
portant choice? Is she a fair Philistine? Why is not this de- 
formity of the soul more powerful to dissuade us, than the beauty 
of the face or of metal to allure us? To dote upon a fair skin, 
when we see a Philistine under it, is sensual and brutish. 

Affection is not more blind than deaf. In vain do the parents 
seek to alter a young man, not more strong in body than in Will, 

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cont. in. Samson's marriage. 265 

Though he cannot defend his desires, yet he pursues them ; Get 
me her, for she pleases me. And although it must needs be a 
weak motion that can plead no reason but appetite ; yet the good 
parents, sith they cannot bow the affection of their son with per- 
suasion, dare not break it with violence. As it becomes not 
children to be forward in their choice ; so parents may not be too 
peremptory in their denial. It is not safe for children to overrun 
parents in settling their affections; nor for parents, where the 
impediments are not very material, to come short of their children, 
when the affections are once settled : the one is disobedience, the 
other may be tyranny. 

I know not whether I may excuse either Samson in making 
this suit, or his parents in yielding to it, by a divine dispensation 
in both ; for on the one side, while the Spirit of God notes that 
& yet his parents knew not this was of the Lord, it may seem 
that he knew it ; and is it likely he would know and not impart 
it ? This alone was enough to win, yea to command his parents ; 
" It is not mine eye only, but the counsel of God, that leads me to 
this choice : the way to quarrel with the Philistines is to match 
with them ; if I follow mine affection, mine affection follows God, 
in this project." Surely he that commanded his prophet after- 
wards to marry an harlot may have appointed his Nazarite to 
marry with a Philistine. On the other side, whether it were of 
God's permitting or allowing, I find not : it might so be of God, 
as all the evil in the city : and then the interposition of God's 
decree shall be no excuse of Samson's infirmity. I would rather 
think that God meant only to make a treacle of a viper ; and 
rather appointed to fetch good out of Samson's evil, than to ap- 
prove that for good in Samson which in itself was evil. 

When Samson went on wooing, he might have made the slug- 
gard's excuse, There is a lion in the way ; but he that could not 
be stayed by persuasion will not by fear. A lion, young, wild, 
fierce, hungry, comes roaring upon him, when he had no weapon 
but his hand, no fence but his strength: the same Providence 
that carried him to Timnath brought the lion to him. It hath 
been ever the fashion of God to exercise his champions with some 
initiatory encounters : both Samson and David must first fight 
with lions, then with Philistines ; and he whose type they bore 
meets with that roaring lion of the wilderness in the very 
threshold of his public charge. The same hand that prepared a 
lion for Samson hath proportionable matches for every Christian : 

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266 Samsons marriage, book x. 

God never gives strength, bat he employs it : poverty meets one 
like an armed man; infamy, like some furious mastiff, comes 
flying in the face of another ; the wild boar out of the forest, or 
the bloody tiger of persecution, sets upon one ; the brawling curs 
of heretical pravity or contentious neighbourhood, are ready to 
bait another: and by all these meaner and brutish adversaries 
will God fit us for greater conflicts. It is a pledge of our future 
victory over the spiritual Philistines, if we can say, My soul hath 
been among lions. Come forth now, thou weak Christian ! and 
behold this preparatory battle of Samson. Dost thou think God 
deals hardly with thee, in matching thee so hard, and calling thee 
forth to so many frays? What dost thou but repine at thine own 
glory ? How shouldest thou be victorious without resistance i 

If the parents of Samson had now stood behind the hedge and 
seen this encounter, they would have taken no further care of 
matching their son with a Philistine ; for who that should see a 
strong lion ramping upon an unarmed man would hope for his 
life and victory ? The beast came bristling up his fearful mane, 
wafting his raised stern ; his eyes sparkling with fury, his mouth 
rearing out knells of his last passage, and breathing death from 
his nostrils, and now rejoiced at so fair a prey. Surely if the lion 
had had no other adversary than him whom he saw, he had not 
lost his hope, but now he could not see that his Maker was his 
enemy : The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson : what is a 
beast in the hand of the Creator ? He that struck the lions with 
the awe of Adam, Noah, and Daniel, subdued this rebellious beast 
to Samson : what marvel is it if Samson now tore him, as if it had 
been a young kid ? If his bones had been brass, and his skin plates 
of Iron, all had been one : The right hand of the Lord bringeth 
mighty things to pass. 

If that roaring lion, that goes about continually seeking whom 
he may devour, find us alone among the vineyards of the Philis- 
tines, where is our hope ? Not in our heels, he is swifter than we ; 
not in our weapons, we are naturally unarmed ; not in our hands, 
which are weak and languishing ; but in the Spirit of that God by 
whom we can do all things : if God fight in us, who can resist us ? 
There is a stronger lion in us than that against us. 

Samson was not more valiant than modest : he made no words of 
this great exploit. The greatest performers ever make the least 
noise : He that works wonders alone could say, See thou tell no 
man; whereas those whose hands are most impotent are busiest 

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cont. in. Samsons marriage. 267 

of their tongues. Great talkers show that they desire only to be 
thought eminent, whereas the deepest waters are least heard. 

But while he concealed this event from others, he pondered it 
in himself; and when he returned to Timnath, went out of the 
way to see his dead adversary, and could not but recall to himself 
his danger and deliverance ; " Here the beast met me, thus he 
fought, thus I slew him." The very dead lion taught Samson 
thankfulness : there was more honey in this thought than in the 
carcass. The mercies of God are ill bestowed upon us if we can- 
not step aside to view the monuments of his deliverances : dangers 
may be at once past and forgotten. As Samson had not found his 
honeycomb if he had not turned aside to see his lion ; so we shall 
lose the comfort of God's benefits if we do not renew our perils by 

Lest any thing should befall Samson wherein is not some wonder, 
his lion doth more amaze him dead than alive ; for lo, that carcass 
is made an hive, and the bitterness of death is turned into the 
sweetness of honey. The bee, a nice and dainty creature, builds 
her cells in an unsavoury carcass ; the carcass, that promised no- 
thing but strength and annoyance, now offers comfort and re- 
freshing ; and in a sort pays Samson for the wrong offered. O 
the wonderful goodness of our God, that can change our terrors 
into pleasure, and can make the greatest evils beneficial ! Is any 
man, by his humiliation under the hand of God, grown more faith- 
ful and conscionable ? there is honey out of the lion. Is any man, 
by his temptation or fall, become more circumspect ? There also is 
. honey out of the lion. There is no Samson to whom every lion 
doth not yield honey : every Christian is the better for his evils ; 
yea, Satan himself, in his exercise of God's children, advantageth 

Samson doth not disdain these sweets because he finds them 
uncleanly laid. His diet was strict, and forbad him anything that 
savoured of legal impurity ; yet he eats the honeycomb out of the 
belly of a dead beast : good may not be refused because the means 
are accidentally evil : honey is honey still, though in a dead lion. 
Those are less wise and more scrupulous than Samson which abhor 
the graces of God because they find them in ill vessels : one cares 
not for the preacher's true doctrine because his life is evil ; an- 
other will not take a good receipt from the hand of a physician 
because he is given to unlawful studies ; a third will not receive a 
deserved contribution from the hands of a usurer. It is a weak 

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268 Samsons marriage. book x. 

neglect not to take the honey because we hate the lion. God's 
children have right to their Father's blessings wheresoever they 
find them. 

The match is now made : Samson, though a Nazarite, hath both 
a wedding and a feast : God never misliked moderate solemnities 
in the severest life ; and yet this bridal feast was long, the space 
of seven days. If Samson had matched with the best Israelite, 
this celebration had been no greater ; neither had this perhaps 
been so long, if the custom of the place had not required it. Now 
I do not hear him plead his Nazaritism for a colour of singularity : 
it is both lawful and fit in things not prohibited, to conform our- 
selves to the manners and rites of those with whom we live. 

That Samson might think it an honour to match with the Phi- 
listines, he, whom before the lion found alone, is now accompanied 
with thirty attendants : they called them companions, but they meant 
them for spies. The courtesies of the world are hollow and thank- 
less ; neither doth it ever purpose so ill as when it shows fairest. 
None are so near to danger as those whom it entertains with 
smiles: while it frowns we know what to trust to; but the 
favours of it are worthy of nothing but fears and suspicion : open 
defiance is better than false love. 

Austerity had not made Samson uncivil : he knows how to en- 
tertain Philistines with a formal familiarity. And that his intel- 
lectual parts might be approved answerable to his arms, he will 
first try masteries of wit, and set their brains on work with harm- 
less thoughts : his riddle shall oppose them, and a deep wager 
shall bind the solution ; thirty shirts and thirty suits of raiment. 
Neither their loss nor their gain could be much besides the vic- 
tory, being divided unto thirty partners ; but Samson's must needs 
be both ways very large, who must give or receive thirty alone. 
The seven days of the feast are expiring, and yet they which had 
been all this while devouring Samson's meat, cannot tell who that 
eater should be from whence meat should come. In course of 
nature the strong feeder takes in meat and sends out filthmess ; 
but that meat and sweetness should come from a devouring sto- 
mach was beyond their apprehension. 

And as fools and dogs use to begin in jest and end in earnest, 
so did these Philistines ; and therefore they force the bride to en- 
tice her husband to betray himself. Covetousness and pride hare 
made them impatient of loss ; and now they threat to fire her and 
her father's house, for recompense of their entertainment, rather 

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cont. in. Samson's marriage. 269 

than they will lose a small wager to an Israelite. Somewhat of 
kin to these savage Philistines are those choleric gamesters, which 
if the dice be not their friend fall out with God, curse (that which 
is not) fortune, strike their fellows, and are ready to take ven- 
geance upon themselves : those men are unfit for sport that lose 
their patience together with their wager. 

I do not wonder that a Philistine woman loved herself and her 
father's family more than an Iaraelitish bridegroom, and if she 
bestowed tears upon her husband for the ransom of them. Samson 
himself taught her this difference; I have not told it my father 
or my mother, and should I tell it thee? If she had not been as 
she was, she had neither done this to Samson nor heard this from 
him. Matrimonial respects are dearer than natural : it was the 
law of him that ordained marriage, before ever parents were, that 
parents should be forsaken for the husband or wife. But now 
Iaraelitish parents are worthy of more entireness than a wife of 
the Philistines ; and yet, whom the lion could not conquer, the 
tears of a woman have conquered. Samson never bewrayed in- 
firmity but in uxoriousness. What assurance can there be of him 
that hath a Philistine in his bosom ? Adam the perfectest man, 
Samson the strongest man, Solomon the wisest man, were betrayed 
with the flattery of their helpers. As there is no comfort compa- 
rable to a faithful yokefellow, so woe be to him that is matched 
with a Philistine. 

It could not but much discontent Samson to see that his ad- 
versaries had ploughed with his heifer, and that upon his own 
back ; now therefore he pays his wager to their cost. Ascalon, 
the city of the Philistines, is his wardrobe : he fetches thence 
thirty suits lined with the lives of the owners. He might with as 
much ease have slain these thirty companions which were the au- 
thors of this evil ; but his promise forbad him, while he was to 
clothe their bodies, to unclothe their souls ; and that Spirit of God 
which stirred him up to revenge, directed him in the choice of the 
subjects. If we wonder to see thirty throats out for their suits, 
we may easily know that this was but the occasion of that slaugh- 
ter whereof the cause was their oppression and tyranny. David 
slew two hundred Philistines for their foreskins; but the ground 
of this act was their hostility. It is just with God to destine what 
enemies he pleases to execution. It is not to be expostulated 
why this man is stricken rather than another, when both are 

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270 Samson's victory. book x. 

SAMSON'S VICTOR Y.-Judges xv. 

I can no more justify Samson in the leaving of his wife than in 
the choosing her : he chose her because she pleased him, and be- 
cause she despised him he left her. Though her fear made her 
false to him in his riddle, yet she was true to his bed : that weak 
treachery was worthy of a check, not a desertion. All the pas- 
sions of Samson were strong like himself; but as vehement mo- 
tions are not lasting, this vehement wind is soon allayed : and he 
is now returning with a kid to win her that had offended him, and 
to renew that feast which ended in her unkindness. Slight occa- 
sions may not break the knot of a matrimonial love ; and if any 
just offence have slackened it on either part, it must be fastened 
again by speedy reconciliation. 

Now Samson's father-in-law shows himself a Philistine, the true 
parent of her that betrayed her husband ; for no sooner is the 
bridegroom departed than he changes his son. What pretence 
of friendship soever he made, a true Philistine will soon be weary 
of an Israelite. Samson hath not so many days' liberty to enjoy 
his wedding as he spent in celebrating it Marriage hath been 
ever a sacred institution, and who but a Philistine would so easily 
violate it ? One of his thirty companions enjoys his wife, together 
with his suit, and now laughs to be a partner of that bed whereon 
he was an attendant. The good nature of Samson having forgot- 
ten the first wrong, carried him to a proffer of familiarity, and is 
repulsed ; but with a gentle violence : I had thought thou hadst 
hated her. Lawful wedlock may not be dissolved by imaginations, 
but by proofs. 

Who shall stay Samson from his own wife ? He that slew the 
lion in the way of his wooing, and before whom thousands of the 
Philistines could not stand, yet suffers himself to be resisted by 
him who was once his father-in-law, without any return of private 
violence. Great is the force of duty once conceived, even to the 
most unworthy. This thought, " I was his son," binds the hands 
of Samson ; else how easily might he, that Blew those thirty Phi- 
listines for their suits, have destroyed this family for his wife I 
How unnatural are those mouths that can curse the loins from 
which they are proceeded; and those hands, that dare lift up 
themselves against the means of their life and being ! 

I never read that Samson slew any but by the motion and 
assistance of the Spirit of God ; and the divine wisdom hath re- 
served these offenders to another revenge. Judgment must de- 

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cont. iv. Samson's victory. 271 

scend from others to them, sith the wrong proceeded from others 
by them. In the very marriage God foresaw and intended this 
parting; and in the parting, this punishment upon the Philis- 
tines. If the Philistines had not been as much enemies to God 
as to Samson, enemies to Israel in their oppression no less than 
to Samson in this particular injury, that purpose and execution 
of revenge had been no better than wicked ; now he, to whom 
vengeance belongs, sets him on work, and makes the act justice : 
when he commands, even very cruelty is obedience. 

It was a busy and troublesome project of Samson to use the 
foxes for his revenge; for not without great labour and many 
hands could so many wild creatures be got together, neither could 
the wit of Samson want other devices of hostility : but he meant 
to find out such a punishment as might in some sort answer the 
offence, and might imply as much contempt as trespass. By wiles, 
seconded with violence, had they wronged Samson, in extorting 
his*secret and taking away his wife; and what other emblem 
could these foxes tied together present unto them than wiliness 
combined by force to work mischief? 

These foxes destroy their corn before he which sent them de- 
stroy their persons. Those judgments which begin in outward 
things end in the owners. A stranger that had been of neither 
side would have said, " What pity is it to see good corn thus 
spoiled ! " If the creature be considered apart from the owners, 
it is good; and therefore if it be misspent, the abuse reflects 
upon the maker of it ; but if it be looked upon with respect to an 
ill master, the best use of it is to perish. He therefore that slew 
the Egyptian cattle with murrain, and smote their fruit with hail- 
stones, he that consumed the vines of Israel with the palmer- 
worm and caterpillar and canker-worm, sent also foxes by the 
hand of Samson into the fields of the Philistines. Their corn was 
too good for them to enjoy, not too good for the foxes to burn up. 
God had rather his creatures should perish any way than serve 
for the lust of the wicked. 

There could not be such secrecy in the catching of three hun- 
dred foxes, but it might well be known who had procured them. 
Rumour will swiftly fly of things not done ; but of a thing so no- 
toriously executed it is no marvel if fame be a blab. The men- 
tion of the offence draws in the provocation ; and now the wrong 
to Samson is scanned and revenged : because the fields of the Phi- 
listines are burned for the wrong done to Samson by the Timnite 

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272 Samson's victory. book x. 

in his daughter, therefore the Philistines burn the Timnite and 
his daughter. The tying of the firebrand between two foxes was 
not so witty a policy as the setting of a fire of dissension betwixt 
the Philistines. What need Samson be his own executioner, when 
his enemies will undertake that charge i There can be no more 
pleasing prospect to an Israelite than to see the Philistines toge- 
ther by the ears. 

If the wife of Samson had not feared the fire for herself and 
her father's house, she had not betrayed her husband, her hus- 
band had not thus plagued the Philistines, the Philistines had not 
consumed her and her father with fire : now she leaps into that 
flame which she meant to avoid. That evil which the wicked 
feared meets them in their flight. How many, in a fear of poverty, 
seek to gain unconscionably, and die beggars! How many, to 
shun pain and danger, have yielded to evil, and in the long run 
have been met in the teeth with that mischief which they had 
hoped to have left behind them ! How many, in a desire to eschew 
the shame of men, have fallen into the confusion of God I Both 
good and evil are sure paymasters at the last. 

He that was so soon pacified towards his wife could not but 
have thought this revenge more than enough, if he had not 
rather wielded God's quarrel than his own. He knew that God 
had raised him up on purpose to be a scourge to the Philistines, 
whom as yet he had angered more than punished ; as if these 
therefore had been but flourishes before the fray, he stirs up his 
courage, and strikes them both hip and thigh with a mighty 
plague. That God, which can do nothing imperfectly where he 
begins either mercy or judgment, will not leave till he have hap- 
pily finished : as it is in his favours, so in his punishments ; one 
stroke draws on another. 

The Israelites were but slaves, and the Philistines were their 
masters ; so much more indignly therefore must they needs take 
it to be thus affronted by one of their Qwn vassals : yet shall we 
commend the moderation of these pagans. Samson, being not 
mortally wronged by one Philistine, falls foul upon the whole na- 
tion ; the Philistines, heinously offended by Samson, do not fall 
upon the whole tribe of Judah, but being mustered together, call 
to them for satisfaction from the person offending : the same hand 
of God which wrought Samson to revenge, restrained them from 
it : it is no thank to themselves that sometimes wicked men cannot 
be cruel. 

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coxt. iv. Samson's victory. 273 

The men of Judah are by their fear made friends to their ty- 
rants and traitors to their friend. It was in their cause that 
Samson had shed blood, and yet they conspire with the Philis- 
tines to destroy their own flesh and blood. So shall the Phi- 
listines be quit with Israel, that as Samson by Philistines re- 
venged himself of Philistines, so they of an Israelite by the hand 
. of Israelites. That which open enemies dare not attempt, they 
work by false brethren ; and these are so much more perilous, as 
they are more entire. 

It had been no less easy for Samson to have slain those thou- 
sands of Judah that came to bind him, than those other of the 
Philistines that meant to kill him bound: and what if he had 
said, " Are ye turned traitors to your deliverer ? your blood be 
upon your own heads;" but the Spirit of God, without whom he 
could not kill either beast or man, would never stir him up to kill 
his brethren, though degenerated into Philistines. They have 
more power to bind him than he to kill them : Israelitish blood 
was precious to him that made no jnore scruple of killing a Phi- 
listine than a lion. That bondage and usury that was allowed to 
a Jew from a pagan might not be exacted from a Jew. 

The Philistines that had before ploughed with Samson s heifer, 
in the case of the riddle, are now ploughing a worse furrow with 
a heifer more his own. I am ashamed to hear these cowardly 
Jews say, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are lords over 
us ? Why hast thou done thus unto us ? We are therefore come 
to bind thee. Whereas they should have said, " We find these 
tyrannical Philistines to usurp dominjpn over us ; thou hast hap- 
pily begun to shake off their yoke, and now we are come to second 
thee with our service. The valour of such a captain shall easily 
lead us forth to liberty. We are ready either to die with thee or 
be freed by thee." A fearful man can never be a true friend : 
rather than incur any danger he will be false to his own soul. O 
cruel mercy of these men of Judah ! We will not kill thee, but we 
will bind thee, and deliver thee to the hands of the Philistines, 
that they may kill thee. As if it had not been much worse to die an 
ignominious and tormenting death by the hands of the Philistines, 
than to be at once despatched by them, which wished either his 
life safe or his death easy ! 

When Saul was pursued by the Philistines upon the mountains 
of Gilboa, he could say to his armourbearer, Draw forth thy 


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274 Samson's victory. book x. 

sword, and kill me ; lest the uncircumcised come and thrust me 
through, and mock me : and at last would rather fall upon his 
own sword than theirs: and yet these cousins of Samson can 
say, We will not kill thee, but we will bind thee and deliver 
thee. It was no excuse to these Israelites that Samson's binding 
had more hope than his death. It was more in the extraordinary 
mercy of God than their will that he was not tied with his last 
bonds. Such is the goodness of the Almighty, that he turns the 
cruel intentions of wicked men to an advantage. 

Now these Jews, that might have let themselves loose from 
their own bondage, are binding their deliverer, whom yet they 
knew able to have resisted. In the greatest strength there is use 
of patience : there was more fortitude in this suffering than in 
his former actions : Samson abides to be tied by his own country- 
men, that he may have the glory of freeing himself victoriously. 
Even so, O Saviour, our better Nazarite, thou, which couldst 
have called to thy Father, and have had twelve legions of angels 
for thy rescue, wouldst be boynd voluntarily, that thou mightest 
triumph : so the blessed martyrs were racked, and would not be 
loosed, because they expected a better resurrection. If we be 
not as well ready to suffer ill as to do good, we are not fit for the 
consecration of God. 

To see Samson thus strongly manacled, and exposed: to their 
full revenge, could not but be a glad spectacle to these Philis- 
tines ; and their joy was so full, that it could not but fly forth of 
their mouths in shouting and laughter : whom they saw loose 
with terror, it is pleasure to see bound. It is the sport of the 
spiritual Philistines to see any of God's Nazarites fettered with 
the cords of iniquity ; and their imps are ready to say, Aha, so 
would we have it : but the event answers their fake joy with that 
clause of triumph, Rejoice not over me, mine enemy : though I 
fall, yet I shall rise again. 

How soon was the countenance of these Philistines changed, 
and their shouts turned into shriekings ! The Spirit of the Lord 
came upon Samson; and then what are cords to the Almighty? 
His new bonds are as flax burnt with fire ; and he rouses up him- 
self like that young lion whom he first encountered, and flies upon 
those cowardly adversaries, who if they had not seen his cords 
durst not have seen his face. If they had been so many devils as 
men, they could not have stood before the Spirit which lifted up 

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cont. iv. Samsons victory. 275 

the heart and hand of Samson. Wicked men never see fairer 
prospect than when they are upon the very threshold of destruc- 
tion. Security and ruin are so close bordering upon each other, 
that where we see the face of the one we may be sure the other 
is at his back. Thus didst thou, O blessed Saviour, when thou 
wert fastened to the cross, when thou layest bound in the grave 
with the cords of death, thus didst thou miraculously raise up 
thyself, vanquish thine enemies, and lead captivity captive : thus 
do all thy holy ones, when they seem most forsaken, and laid 
open to the insultation of the world, find thy Spirit mighty to their 
deliverance and the discomfiture of their malicious adversaries. 

Those three thousand Israelites were not so ill advised as to come 
up into the rock unweaponed to apprehend Samson. Samson 
therefore might have had his choice of swords or spears for his 
skirmish with the Philistines ; yet he leaves all the munition of 
Israel, and finding the new jawbone of an ass, takes that up in 
his hand, and with that base instrument of death sends a thousand 
Philistines to their place. All the swords and shields of the armed 
Philistines cannot resist that contemptible engine which hath now 
left a thousand bodies as dead as the carcass of that beast whose 
bone it was. This victory was not in the weapon, was not in the 
arm ; it was in the Spirit of God, which moved the weapon in the 
arm. O God, if the means be weak, yet thou art strong : through 
God we shall do great acts; yea, I can do all things through 
him that strengthened me. Seest thou a poor Christian, which 
by weak counsel hath obtained to overcome a temptation ? there 
is the Philistine vanquished with a sorry jawbone. 

It is no marvel if he were thus admirably strong and victorious 
whose bodily strength God meant to make a type of the spiritual 
power of Christ : and behold, as the three thousands of Judah 
stood still gazing with their weapons in their hands, while Samson 
alone subdued the Philistines ; so did men and angels stand look- 
ing upon the glorious achievements of the Son of God, who might 
justly say, / have trod the winepress alone. 

Both the Samsons complained of thirst. The same God which 
gave this champion victory gave him also refreshing, and by the 
same means : the same bone yields him both conquest and life, 
and is of a weapon of offence turned into a well of water : he that 
fetched water out of the flint for Israel fetches it out of a bone 
for Samson. What is not possible to the infinite power of that 
Almighty Creator that made all things of nothing ? He can give 

T 2 

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276 Samson's end. book x. 

Samson honey from the mouth of the lion, and water from the 
mouth of the ass. Who would not cheerfully depend upon that God 
which can fetch moisture out of dryness, and life out of death ? 

SAMSON'S END.— Judges xvi. 

I cannot wonder more at Samson's strength than his weakness : 
he that began to cast away his love upon a wife of the Philistines 
goes on to misspend himself upon the harlots of the Philistines ; 
he did not so much overcome the men as the women overcame 
him. His affections blinded him first, ere the Philistines could do 
it ; would he else, after the effusion of so much of their blood, 
have suffered his lust to carry him within their walls, as one that 
cared more for his pleasure than his life ? 

O strange debauchedness and presumption of a Nazarite ! The 
Philistines are up in arms to kill him ; he offers himself to their 
city, to their stews, and dares expose his life to one of their har- 
lots whom he had slaughtered. I would have looked to have seen 
him betake himself to his stronger Rock than that of Etam ; 
and by his austere devotion to seek protection of him of whom he 
received strength : but now, as if he had forgotten his consecration, 
I find him turned Philistine for his bed, and of a Nazarite scarce 
a man. In vain doth he nourish his hair while he feeds these 
passions. How usually do vigour of body and infirmity of mind 
lodge under one roof ! On the contrary, a weakish outside is a 
strong motive to mortification. Samson's victories have subdued 
him, and have made him first a slave to lewd desires, and then to 
the Philistines. I may safely say, that more vessels miscarry with 
a fair gale than with a tempest. 

Yet was not Samson so blinded with lust as not at all to look 
before him. He foresaw the morning would be dangerous; the 
bed of his fornication therefore could hold him no longer than 
midnight : then he rises, and in a mock of those ambushes which 
the Azzahites laid for him, he carries away the gates wherein they 
thought to have encaged him. If a temptation has drawn us aside 
to lie down to sin, it is happy for us if we can rise ere we be sur- 
prised with judgment. Samson had not left his strength in the 
bed of an harlot ; neither had that God which gave it him stripped 
him of it with his clothes when he laid him down in uncleanness. 
His mercy uses not to take vantage of our unworthiness, but 

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cont. v. Samsoiis end. 277 

even when we cast him off, holds us fast. That bountiful hand 
leaves us rich of common graces when we have misspent our better 
store ; like as our first parents, when they had spoiled themselves 
of the image of their Creator, yet were left wealthy of noble fa- 
culties of the soul. 

I find Samson come off from his sin with safety. He runs away 
lightly with a heavier weight than the gates of Azzah, the burden 
of an ill act. Present impunity argues not an abatement of the 
wickedness of his sin, or of the dislike of God. Nothing is so 
worthy of pity as sinners' peace : good is not therefore good be- 
cause it prospers, but because it is commanded : evil is not evil 
because it is punished, but because it is forbidden. 

If the holy parents of Samson lived to see these outrages of 
their Nazarite, I doubt whether they did not repent them of their 
joy to hear news of a son. It is a shame to see how he that might 
not drink wine is drunk with the cup of fornications His lust car- 
ries him from Azzah* to the plain of Sorek ; and now hath found 
a Delilah that shall pay him for all his former uncleanness. Sin 
is steep and slippery ; and if after one fall we have found where to 
stand, it is the praise, not of our footing, but of the hand of God. 

The princes of the Philistines knew already where Samson's 
weakness lay, though not his strength ; and therefore they would 
entice his harlot by gifts, to entice him by her dalliance to betray 
himself. It is no marvel if she that would be filthy would be also 
perfidious. How could Samson choose but think, if lust had not 
bewitched him, " she, whose body is mercenary to me, will easily 
sell me to others ; she will be false, if she will be an harlot." A 
wide conscience will swallow any sin. Those that have once 
thralled themselves to a known evil can make no other difference 
of sins but their own loss or advantage : a liar can steal, a thief 
can kill, a cruel man can be a traitor ; a drunkard can falsify : 
wickedness once entertained can put on any shape : trust him in 
nothing that makes not a conscience of every thing. 

Was there ever such another motion made to a reasonable man ? 
Tell me wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou 
mayest be bound to do thee hart. Who would not have spurned 
such a suitor out of doors ? What will not impudence ask, or stu- 
pidity receive ? He that killed the thousand Philistines for coming 
to bind him, endures this harlot of the Philistines to consult with 
himself of binding him ; and when upon the trial of a false answer 
* [Gaza or Azzah, see Jer. xxv. ao.] 

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278 JSamson's end. book x. 

he saw so apparent treachery, yet wilfully betrays bis life by her 
to his enemies. All sins, all passions have power to infatuate a 
man, but lust most of all. Never man that had drunk flagons of 
wine had less reason than this Nazarite ; many a one loses his 
life, but this casts it away ; not in hatred of himself, but in love 
to a strumpet 

We wonder that a man could possibly be so sottish, and yet we 
ourselves by temptation become no less insensate ; sinful pleasures, 
like a common Delilah, lodge in our bosoms ; we know they aim 
at nothing but the death of our soul ; we will yield to them and 
die. Every willing sinner is a Samson : let us not inveigh against 
his senselessness, but our own. Nothing is so gross and unreason- 
able to a well disposed mind which temptation will not represent 
fit and plausible. No soul can, out of nis own strength, secure 
himself from that sin which he most detesteth. 

As an hoodwinked man sees some little glimmering of light, but 
not enough to guide him ; so did Samson, who had reason enough 
left him to make trial of Delilah by a crafty misinformation, but 
not enough upon that trial to distrust and hate her : he had not 
wit enough to deceive her thrice ; not enough to keep himself 
from being deceived by .her. It is not so great wisdom to prove 
them whom we distrust, as it is folly to trust them whom we have 
found treacherous : thrice had he seen the Philistines in her cham- 
ber ready to surprise him upon her bonds ; and yet will needs be 
a slave to his traitor. Warning not taken is a certain presage of 
destruction ; and if once neglected it receive pardon, yet thrice is 

What man would ever play thus with his own ruin ? His harlot 
binds him, and calls in her executioners to cut his throat ; he 
rises to save his own life, and suffers them to carry away theirs 
in peace. Where is the courage of Samson ? where his zeal ? He 
that killed the Philistines for their clothes ; he that slew a thou- 
sand of them in the field at once; in this quarrel, now suffers 
them in his chamber unrevenged. Whence is this? His hands 
were strong, but his heart was effeminate : his harlot had diverted 
his affection. Whosoever slackens the reins to his sensual appe- 
tite shall soon grow unfit for the calling of God. 

Samson hath broke the green withes, the new ropes, the woof 
of his hair ; and yet still suffers himself fettered with those invisible 
bonds of a harlot's love, and can endure her to say, How canst 
thou say, Hove thee, when thine heart is not with me ? thou hast 

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cont. v. Samsons end. 279 

mocked me these three times : whereas he should rather have said 
unto her, "How canst thou challenge any love from me, that 
hast thus thrice sought my life ? O ! canst thou think my mocks 
a sufficient revenge of this treachery ?" But contrarily, he melts 
at this fire, and by her importunate insinuations is wrought against 
• himself. Weariness of solicitation hath won some to those actions 
which at the first motion they despised: like as we see some 
suitors are despatched, not for the equity of the cause, but the 
trouble of the prosecution, because it is more easy to yield, not 
more reasonable. It is more safe to keep ourselves out of the noise 
of suggestions, than to stand upon our power of denial. 

Who can pity the loss of that strength which was so abused ? 
Who can pity him the loss of his locks, which after so many warn- 
ings can sleep in the lap of Delilah ? It is but just that he should 
rise up from thence shaven and feeble ; not a Nazarite, scarce a 
man. If his strength had lien in his hair, it bad been out of him- 
self; it was not therefore in his locks, it was in his consecration, 
whereof that hair was a sign. If the razor had come sooner upon 
his head he bad ceased to be a Nazarite; and the gift of God had 
at once ceased with the calling of God ; not for the want of that ex- 
cretion, but for want of obedience. If God withdraw his graces when 
he is too much provoked, who can complain of his mercy? 

He that sleeps in sin must look to wake in loss and weakness. 
Could Samson think, " Though I tell her my strength lies in my 
hair, yet she will not cut it ; or though she do cut my hair, yet 
shall I not lose my strength ; " that now he rises and shakes him- 
self in hope of his former vigour ? Custom of success makes men 
confident in their sins, and causes them to mistake an arbitrary 
tenure for a perpetuity. 

His eyes were the first offenders, which betrayed him to lust ; 
and now they are first pulled out, and he is led a blind captive to 
Azzah, where he was first paptived to his lust. The Azzahites, 
which lately saw him, not without terror, running lightly away 
with their gates at midnight, see him now in his own perpetual 
night struggling with his chains ; and that he may not want pain 
together with his bondage, he must grind in his prison. 

As he passed the street, every boy among the Philistines could 
throw stones at him ; every woman could laugh and shout at him ; 
and what one Philistine doth not say, while he lashes him unto 
blood, "There is for my brother or my kinsman whom thou 
slewest?" Who can look to run away with a sin, when Samson, a 

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280 Samsons end, book x. 

Nazat-ite, is thus plagued ? This great heart could not but have 
broken with indignation, if it had not pacified itself with the con- 
science of the just desert of all this vengeance. 

It is better for Samson to be blind in prison than to abuse his 
eyes in Sorek; yea, I may safely say he was more blind when 
he saw licentiously, than now that he sees not. He was a greater 
slave when he served his affections, than now in grinding for the 
Philistines. The loss of his eyes shews liim his sin ; neither could 
he see how ill he had done, till he saw not. 

Even yet, still the God of mercy looked upon the blindness of 
Samson ; and in these fetters enlargeth his heart from the worse 
prison of his sin. His hair grew together with his repentance, 
and his strength with his hair. God's merciful humiliations of 
his own are sometimes so severe, that they seem to differ little 
from desertions : yet at the worst he loves us bleeding ; and when 
we have smarted enough, we shall feel it. 

What thankful idolaters were these Philistines ! They could 
not but know that their bribes and their Delilah bad delivered 
Samson to them, and yet they sacrifice to their Dagon ; and, as 
those that would be liberal in casting favours upon a senseless idol, 
of whom they could receive none, they cry out, Our god hath de- 
livered our enemy into our hands. Where was their Dagon when 
a thousand of bis clients were slain with an ass's jaw ? There 
was more strength in that bone than in all the makers of this 
god ; and yet these vain pagans say, Our god. It is the quality of 
superstition to misinterpret all events, and to feed itself with the 
conceit of those favours which are so far from being done, that 
their authors never were. Why do not we learn zeal of idolaters ? 
And if they be so forward in acknowledgment of their deliver- 
ances to a false deity, how cheerfully should we ascribe ours to 
the true ! O God, whatsoever be the means, thou art the author 
of all our success. that men would praise the Lord for his 
goodness, and tell the wonders that he doth for the sons of men I 

No musician would serve for this feast but Samson. He must 
now be their sport which was once their terror. That he might 
want no sorrow, scorn is added to his misery : every wit and hand 
plays upon him : who is not ready to cast his bone and his jest at 
such a captive? so as doubtless he wished himself no less deaf 
than blind, and that his soul might have gone out with his eyes. 
Oppression is able to make a wise man mad ; and the greater the 
courage is, the more painful the insultation. 

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co>n\ vi. Mica/is idolatry. 281 

Now Samson is punished, shall the Philistines escape 1 If the 
judgment of God begin at his own, what shall become of his 
enemies? This advantage shall Samson make of their tyranny, 
that now death is no punishment to him ; his soul shall fly forth 
in this bitterness without pain ; and that his dying revenge shall 
be no less sweet to him than the liberty of his former life. He 
could not but feel God mocked through him; and therefore, 
while they are scoffing he prays: his seriousness hopes to pay 
them for all those jests. If he could have been thus earnest with 
God in his prosperity, the Philistines had wanted this laughing- 
stock. No devotion is so fervent as that which arises from ex- 
tremity : Lord God, I pray thee think upon me; O God, I 
beseech thee strengt/ien me at this time only. 

Though Samson's hair were shorter, yet he knew God's hand 
was not ; as one therefore that had yet eyes enow to see him that 
was invisible, and whose faith was recovered before his strength, 
he sues to that God, which was a party in this indignity, for 
power to revenge his wrongs more than his own. It is zeal that 
moves him, and not malice : his renewed faith tells him that he 
was destined to plague the Philistines ; and reason tells him that 
his blindness puts him out of the hope of such another oppor- 
tunity : knowing therefore that this play of the Philistines must 
end in his death, he re-collects all the forces of his soul and body, 
that his death may be a punishment instead of a disport, and 
that his soul may be more victorious in the parting than in the 
animation ; and so addresses himself both to die and kill as one 
whose soul shall not feel its own dissolution while it shall carry 
so many thousand Philistines with it to the pit. All the acts of 
Samson are for wonder, not for imitation : so didst thou, O 
blessed Saviour, our better Samson, conquer in dying; and tri- 
umphing upon the chariot of the cross, didst lead captivity 
captive : the law, sin, death, hell, had never been vanquished but 
by thy death : all our life, liberty, and glory springs out of thy 
most precious blood. 

MICAffS IDOLATRY.— Judges xvii, xviii. 

The mother of Micah hath lost her silver, and now she falls to 
cursing : she did afterwards but change the form of her god : 
her silver was her god ere it did put on the fashion of an image ; 
else she had not so much cursed to lose it, if it had not too much 

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282 Micafi's idolatry. book x. 

possessed her in the keeping. A carnal heart cannot forego that 
wherein it delights without impatience ; cannot be impatient with- 
out curses : whereas the man that hath learned to enjoy God and 
use the world, smiles at a shipwreck, and pities a thief; and can- 
not curse, but pray. 

Micah had so little grace as to steal from his mother, and that 
out of wantonness, not out of necessity ; for if she had not been 
rich, so much could not have been stolen from her : and now he 
hath so much grace as to restore it: her curses have fetched 
again her treasures. He cannot so much love the money as he 
fears her imprecations. Wealth seems too dear bought with a 
curse. Though his fingers were false, yet his heart was tender. 
Many that make not conscience of committing sin, yet make con- 
science of facing it : it is well for them that they are but novices 
in evil. Those whom custom hath fleshed in sin can either deny 
and forswear, or expuse and defend it : their seared hearts cannot 
feel the gnawing of any remorse ; and their forehead hath learned 
to be as impudent as their heart is senseless. 

I see no argument of any holiness in the mother of Micah : her 
curses were sin to herself; yet Micah dares not but fear them. 
I know not whether the causeless curse be more worthy of pity 
or derision : it hurts the author, not his adversary : but the de- 
served curses that fall even from unholy mouths are worthy to 
be feared. How much more should a man hold himself blasted 
with the just imprecations of the godly ! What metal are those 
made of that can applaud themselves in the bitter curses which 
their oppressions have wrung from the poor, and rejoice in these 
signs of their prosperity ? 

Neither yet was Micah more stricken with his mother's curses 
than with the conscience of sacrilege : so soon as he finds there 
was a purpose of devotion in this treasure, he dares not conceal 
it to the prejudice, as he thought, of God more than of his 
mother. What shall we say to the palate of those men, which as 
they find no good relish but in stolen waters, so best in those 
which are stolen from the fountain of God ? 

How soon hath the old woman changed her note ! Even now 
she passed an indefinite curse upon her son for stealing, and now 
she blesses him absolutely for restoring : Blessed be my son of 
the Lord. She had forgotten the theft when she sees the resti- 
tution : how much more shall the God of mercies be more pleased 
with our confession than provoked with our sin ! 

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cont. vi. Micah' s idolatry. 283 

I doubt not but this silver and this superstition came out of 
Egypt, together with the mother of Micah. This history is not 
so late in time as in place ; for the tribe of Dan was not yet 
settled in that first division of the promised land ; so as this old 
woman had seen both the idolatry of Egypt and the golden calf 
in the wilderness ; and no doubt contributed some of her earrings 
to that deity ; and after all the plagues which she saw inflicted 
upon her brethren for that idol of Horeb and Baalpeor, she still 
reserves a secret love to superstition, and now shows it. Where 
misreligion hath once possessed itself of the heart, it is very 
hardly cleansed out ; but, like the plague, it will hang in the very 
clothes, and after long lurking break forth in an unexpected in- 
fection ; and old wood is the aptest to take this fire : after all 
the airing in the desert, Micah's mother will smell of Egypt. 
* It had been better the silver had been stolen than thus be- 
stowed; for now they have so employed it, that it hath stolen 
away their hearts from God; and yet while it is molten into an 
image, they think it dedicated to the Lord. If religion might be 
judged according to the intention, there should scarce be any 
idolatry in the world. This woman loved her silver enough; 
and if she had not thought this costly piety worth thanks, she 
knew which way to have employed her stock to advantage. Even 
evil actions have ofttimes good meanings, and those good mean- 
ings are answered with evil recompenses. Many a one bestows 
their cost, their labour, their blood, and receives torment instead 
of thanks. 

Behold a superstitious son of a superstitious mother! She 
makes a god, and he harbours it; yea, as the stream is com- 
monly broader than the head, he exceeds his mother in evil : he 
hath an house of gods, an ephod, teraphin ; and, that he might be 
complete in his devotion, he makes his son his priest, and feoffs 
that sin upon his son which he received from his mother. Those 
sins which nature conveys not to us we have by imitation. Every 
action and gesture of the parents is an example to the child; and 
the mother, as she is more tender over her son, so by the power 
of a reciprocal love she can work most upon his inclination. 
Whence it is, that in the history of the Israelitish kings the mo- 
ther's name is commonly noted : and as civilly, so also morally, 
" the birth follows the belly." Those sons may bless their second 
birth that are delivered from the sins of their education. 

Who cannot but think how far Micah overlooked all his fellow 

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284 Micah? $ idolatry. book x. 

Israelites, and thought them profane and godless in comparison of 
himself ! How did he secretly clap himself on the breast, as the 
man whose happiness it was to engross religion from all the tribes 
of Israel ; and little can imagine that the farther he runs, the 
more out of the way! Can an Israelite be thus paganish? O 
Micah! how hath superstition bewitched thee, that thou canst 
not see rebellion in every of these actions, yea, in every circum- 
stance rebellion I What, more gods than one ! An house of gods, 
beside God's house ! An image of silver to the invisible god ! An 
ephod, and no priest! A priest, besides the family of Levi! A 
priest of thine own begetting, of thine own consecration ! What 
monsters doth man's imagination produce when it is forsaken of 
God ! It is well seen there is no king in Israel : if God had been 
their king, his laws had ruled them : if Moses or Joshua had been 
their king, their sword had awed them : if any other, the courses * 
of Israel could not have been so headless. We are beholden to 
government for order, for peace, for religion. Where there is 
no king, every one will be a king, yea, a god to himself. We 
are worthy of nothing but confusion, if we bless not God for 

It is no marvel if Levites wandered for maintenance while 
there was no king in Israel. The tithes and offerings were their 
due : if these had been paid, none of the holy tribe needed to 
shift his station. Even where royal power seconds the claim of 
the Levite, the injustice of men shortens his right. What should 
become of the Levites if there were no king. And what of the 
Church, if no Levites? No King therefore, no Church. How 
could the impotent child live without a nurse? Kings shall be 
thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nurses, saith God. Nothing 
more argues the disorder of any church, or the decay of religion, 
than the forced straggling of the Levites. There is hope of growth 
when Micah rides to seek a Levite ; but when the Levite comes 
to seek a service of Micah, it is a sign of gasping devotion. 

Micah was no obscure man : all Mount Ephraim could not but 
take notice of his domestical gods. This Levite could not but hear 
of his disposition, of his misdevotion; yet want of maintenance, 
no less than conscience, draws him on to the danger of an idola- 
trous patronage. Holiness is not tied to any profession. Happy 
were it for the church if the clergy could be a privilege from 
lewdness. When need meets with unconscionableness, all condi- 
tions are easily swallowed of unlawful entrances, of wicked execu- 

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cont. vi. Micatis idolatry. 285 

tions. Ten shekels and a suit of apparel, and his diet, are good 
wages for a needy Levite. He that could bestow eleven hundred 
shekels upon his puppets can afford but ten to his priest.: so 
hath he at once a rich idol and a beggarly priest Whosoever 
* affects to serve God good cheap shows that he makes God but a 
stale to mammon. 

Yet was Micah a kind patron, though not liberal. He calls 
the young Levite his father, and uses him as his son : and what 
he wants in means supplies in affection. It were happy if 
Christians could imitate the love of idolaters towards them which 
serve at the altar. Micah made a shift with the priesthood of 
his own son : yet that his heart checks him in it appears both 
by the change and his contentment in the change ; Now I know 
that the Lord will be good to me, seeing I have a Levite to my 
priest : therefore while his priest was no Levite, he sees there 
was cause why God should not be good to him. If the Levite 
had not come to offer his service, Micah's son had been a lawful 
priest. Many times the conscience runs away smoothly with an 
unwarrantable action, and rests itself upon those grounds which 
afterward it sees cause to condemn. It is a sure way therefore 
to inform ourselves thoroughly ere we settle our choice, that we 
be not driven to reverse our acts with late shame and unprofitable 

Now did Micah begin to see some little glimpse of his own 
error : he saw his priesthood faulty ; he saw not the faults of his 
ephod, of his images, of his gods : and yet, as if he thought all 
had been well when he had amended one, he says, Now I know 
the Lord will be good to me. The carnal heart pleases itself with 
an outward formality ; and so delights to flatter itself, as that it 
thinks if one circumstance be right, nothing can be amiss. 

Israel was at this time extremely corrupted : yet the spies of 
the Danites had taken notice even of this young Levite, and are 
glad to make use of his priesthood. If they had but gone up to 
Shiloh, they might have consulted with the ark of God; but 
worldly minds are not curious in their holy services : if they have 
a god, an ephod, a priest, it suffices them : they had rather enjoy 
a false worship with ease than to take pains for the true. Those 
that are curious in their diet, in their purchases, in their attire, in 
their contracts, yet in God's business are very indifferent. 

The author of lies sometimes speaks truth for an advantage ; 
and from his mouth this flattering Levite spoaks what lie knew 

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286 MicafCs idolatry. book x. 

would please, not what he knew would fail out: the event an- 
swers his prediction, and now the spies magnify him to their fel- 
lows. Micah's idol is a god, and the Levite is his oracle. In 
matter of judgment, to be guided only by the event is the way to 
error : falsehood shall be truth, and Satan an angel of light, if 
we follow this rule. Even very conjectures sometimes happen 
right : a prophet or a dreamer may give a true sign or wonder, 
and yet himself say, Let us go after other gods. A small thing 
can win credit with weak minds, which, where they have once 
sped, cannot distrust. 

The idolatrous Danites are so besotted with this success, that 
they will rather steal than want the gods of Micah ; and because 
the gods without the priest can do them less service than the 
priest without the gods, therefore they steal the priest with the 
gods. O miserable Israelites ! that could think that a god which 
' could be stolen ; that could look for protection from that which 
could not keep itself from stealing ; which was won by their theft, 
not their devotion ! Could they worship those idols more devoutly 
than Micah that made them ? And if they could not protect their 
maker from robbery, how shall they protect their thieves ? If it 
had been the holy ark of the true God, how could they think it 
would bless their violence, or that it would abide to be translated 
by rapine and extortion ? Now their superstition hath made them 
mad upon a god, they must have him ; by what means they care 
not, though they offend the true God by stealing a false. 

Sacrilege is fit to be the first service of an idol. The spies of Dan 
had been courteously entertained by Micah ; thus they rewarded 
his hospitality. It is no trusting the honesty of idolaters : if they 
have once cast off the true God, whom will they respect ? 

It seems Levites did not more want maintenance than Israel 
wanted Levites: here was a tribe of Israel without a spiritual 
guide. The withdrawing of due means is the way to the utter 
desolation of the church : rare offerings make cold altars. 

There needed small force to draw this Levite to change his 
charge ; Hold thy peace, and come, and be our father and 
priest : whether is it better, &c. Here is not patience, but joy : 
he that was won with ten shekels may be lost with eleven : when 
maintenance and honour call him, he goes undriven ; and rather 
steals himself away than is stolen. The Levite had too many gods 
to make conscience of pleasing one : there is nothing more incon- 
stant than a Levite that seeks nothing but himself. 

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cont. i. The Levite s concubine. 287 

Thus the wildfire of idolatry which lay before couched in the 
private hall of Micah now flies furiously through all the tribe of 
Dan, who, like to thieves that have carried away plague-clothes, 
have insensibly infected themselves and their posterity to death. 
Heresy and superstition have small beginnings, dangerous pro- 
ceedings, pernicious conclusions. This contagion is like a canker, 
which at the first is scarce visible ; afterwards, it eats away the 
flesh and consumes the body. 













There is no complaint of a publicly disordered state where a 
Levite is not at one end of it, either as an agent or a patient. In 
the idolatry of Micah and the Danites, a Levite was an actor ; in 
the violent uncleanness of Gibeah, a Levite suffers. No tribe shall 
sooner feel the want of government than that of Levi. 

The law of God allowed the Levite a wife ; human connivance, 
a concubine : neither did the Jewish concubine differ from a wife, 
but in some outward compliments : both might challenge all the 
true essence of marriage ; so little was the difference, that the 
father of the concubine is called the father-in-law to the Levite. 

* [Created Baron Brooke, 1620-1.] 

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288 The Levite s concubine, book xi. 

She whom ill custom had of a wife made a concubine, is now, 
by her lust, of a concubine made an harlot : her fornication, toge- 
ther with the change of her bed, hath changed her abode. Per- 
haps her own conscience thrust her out of doors; perhaps the 
just severity of her husband. Dismission was too easy a penalty 
for that which God had sentenced with death. 

She that had deserved to be abhorred of her husband seeks 
shelter from her father. Why would her father suffer his house 
to be defiled with an adulteress, though out of his own loins? 
Why did he not rather say, " What dost thou think to find my 
house a harbour for thy sin ? While thou wert a wife to thine hus- 
band, thou wert a daughter to me ; now thou art neither. Thou 
art not mine, I gave thee to thy husband ; thou art not thy hus- 
band's, thou hast betrayed his bed. Thy filthiness hath made thee 
thine own and thine adulterer's : go seek thine entertainment 
where thou hast lost thine honesty. Thy lewdness hath brought a 
necessity of shame upon thine abettors : how can I countenance thy 
person and abandon thy sin ? I had rather be a just man than a 
kind father. Get thee home therefore to thy husband, crave his 
forgiveness upon thy knees, redeem his love with thy modesty and 
obedience. When his heart is once open to thee, my doors shall not 
be shut ; in the meantime, know I can be no father to an harlot." 
Indulgence of parents is the refuge of vanity, the bawd of wicked- 
ness, the bane of children. How easily is that thief induced to 
steal that knows his receiver! When the lawlessness of youth 
knows where to find pity and toleration, what mischief can it 

By how much better this Levite was, so much more injurious 
was the concubine's sin. What husband would not have said, 
44 She is gone, let shame and grief go with her ! I shall find one 
no less pleasing and more faithful : or if it be not too much mercy 
in me to yield to a return, let her that hath offended seek me : 
what more direct way is there to a resolved looseness than to let 
her see I cannot want her ?" 

The good nature of this Levite casts off all these terms ; and 
now, after four months' absence, sends him to seek for her that 
had run away from her fidelity : and now he thinks, " She sinned 
against me ; perhaps she hath repented, perhaps shame and fear 
have withheld her from returning, perhaps she will be more loyal 
for her sin : if her importunity should win me, half the thanks 
were lost ; but now my voluntary offer of favour shall oblige her 

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cont. i. The Levitts concubine. 289 

for ever." Love procures truer servitude than necessity : mercy 
becomes well the heart of any man, but most of a Levite. He 
that had helped to offer so many sacrifices to God for the multi- 
tude of every Israelite's sins, saw how proportionable it was that 
ifian should not hold one sin unpardonable : he had served at the 
altar to no purpose, if he, whose trade was to sue for mercy, had 
not at all learned to practise it. 

And if the reflection of mercy wrought this in a servant, what 
shall we expect from him whose essence is mercy ? God, we do 
every day break the holy covenant of our love. We prostitute 
ourselves to every filthy temptation, and then run and hide our* 
selves in our father's house, the world. If thou didst not seek us 
up, we should never return : if thy gracious proffer did not pre- 
vent us, we should be incapable of forgiveness. It were abundant 
goodness in thee to receive us when we should entreat thee ; but 
lo, thou entreatest us that we would receive thee I How should we 
now adore and imitate thy mercy : sith there is more reason we 
should sue to each other, than that thou shouldst sue to us ; be- 
cause we may as well offend as be offended ! 

I do not see the woman's father make any means for recon- 
ciliation ; but when remission came home to his doors, no man 
could entertain it more thankfully. The nature of many men is 
forward to accept, and negligent to sue for : they can spend secret 
wishes upon that which shall cost them no endeavour. 

Great is the power of love, which can in a sort undo evils past ; 
if not for the act, yet for the remembrance. Where true affection 
was once conceived, it is easily pieced again after the strongest 
interruption. Here needs no tedious recapitulation of wrongs, no 
importunity of suit. The unkindnesses are forgotten, their love 
is renewed ; and now the Levite is not a stranger, but a son. By 
how much more willingly he came, by so much more unwillingly 
he is dismissed. The four months' absence of his daughter is an- 
swered with four days' feasting. Neither was there so much joy 
in the former wedding feast as in this ; because then he delivered 
his daughter entire, now desperate : then he found a son, but now 
that son hath found his lost daughter, and he found both. The re- 
covery of any good is far more pleasant than the continuance. 

Little do we know what evil is towards us. Now did this old 
man, and this restored couple, promise themselves all joy and con- 
tentment after this unkind storm ; and' said in themselves, " Now 
we begin to live." And now this feast, which was meant for their 


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290 The Letite'a concubine. book xi. 

new nuptials, proves her funeral. Even when we let ourselves 
loosest to our pleasures, the hand of God, though invisibly, is 
writing bitter things against us. Sith we are not worthy to 
know, it is wisdom to suspect the worst while it is least seen. 

Sometimes it falls out that nothing is more injurious than cour- 
tesy. If this old man had thrust his son and daughter early out of 
doors, they had avoided this mischief ; now, his loving importunity 
detains them to their hurt and his own repentance. Such con- 
tentment doth sincere affection find in the presence of those we 
love, that death itself hath no other name but departing. The 
greatest comfort of our life is the fruition of friendship, the dis- 
solution whereof is the greatest pain of death. As all earthly 
pleasures, so this of love is distasted with a necessity of leaving. 
How worthy is that only love to take up our hearts which is not 
open to any danger of interruption, which shall outlive the date 
even of faith and hope, and is as eternal as that God and those 
blessed spirits whom we love ! If we hang never so importunately 
upon one another's sleeves, and shed floods of tears to stop their 
way, yet we must be gone hence : no occasion, no force shall then 
remove us from our Father's house. 

The Levite is stayed beyond his time by importunity, the mo- 
tions whereof are boundless and infinite : one day draws on an- 
other ; neither is there any reason of this day's stay which may 
not serve still for to-morrow. His resolution at last breaks through 
all those kind hinderances : rather will he venture a benighting than 
an unnecessary delay. It is a good hearing that the Levite makes 
haste home. An honest man's heart is where his calling is : such 
a one, when he is abroad, is like a fieh in the air : whereinto if it 
leap for recreation or necessity, yet it soon returns to his own 
element. This charge, by how much more sacred it is, so much 
more attendance it expectcth. Even a day breaks square with 
the conscionable. 

The son is ready to lodge before them. His servant advises 
him to shorten his journey ; holding it more fit to trust an early 
inn of the Jebusites than to the mercy of the night. And if that 
counsel had been followed, perhaps they, which found Jebusites 
in Israel, might have found Israelites in Jebus. No wise man can 
hold good counsel disparaged by the meanness of the author : if 
we be glad to receive any treasure from our servant, why not 
precious admonitions ? 

It was the zeal of this Levite that shut him out of Jebus ; We 

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cont. i. The Letites concubine. 291 

will not lodge in the city of strangers. The Jebusites were 
strangers in religion, not strangers enough in their habitation: 
the Levite will not receive common courtesy from those which 
were aliens from God, though homeborn in the heart of Israel. 
It is lawful enough in terms of civility to deal with infidels ; the 
earth is the Lord's; and we may enjoy it in the right of the 
owner, while we protest against the wrong of the usurper ; yet 
the less communion with God's enemies the more safety. If there 
were another air to breathe in from theirs, another earth to tread 
upon, they should have their own. Those that affect a familiar en- 
tireness with Jebusites in conversation, in leagues of amity, in 
matrimonial contracts, bewray either too much boldness or too little 

He hath no blood of an Israelite that delights to lodge in Jebus. 
It was the fault of Israel that a heathenish town stood yet in 
the navel of the tribes, and that Jebus was no sooner turned 
to Jerusalem. Their lenity and neglect were guilty of this neigh- 
bourhood, that now no man can pass from Bcthlehem-Judah to 
Mount Ephraim but by the city of the Jebusites. Seasonable jus- 
tice might prevent a thousand evils which afterwards know no 
remedy but patience. 

The way was not long betwixt Jebus and Gibeah ; for the sun 
was stooping when the Levite was over against the first, and is 
but now declined when he comes to the other. How his heart 
was lightened when he entered into an Israelitish city, and can 
think of nothing but hospitality, rest, security. There is no per- 
fume so sweet to a traveller as his own smoke. Both expectation 
and fear do commonly disappoint us ; for seldom ever do we enjoy 
the good we look for, or smart with a feared evil. 

The poor Levite could have found but such entertainment with 
' the Jebusites. Whither arc the posterity of Benjamin degenerated, 
that their Gibeah should be no less wicked than populous? 

The first sign of a settled godlessncss is, that a Levite is suf- 
fered to lie without doors. If God had been in any of their houses, 
his servant had not been excluded. Where no respect is given to 
God's messengers there can be no religion. 

Gibeah was a second Sodom ; even there also is another Lot ; 
which is therefore so much more hospitable to strangers, because 
himself was a stranger. The host as well as the Levite is of 
Mount Ephraim : each man knows best to commiserate that evil 
in others which himself hath passed through. All that profess the 

c 2 

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£99 The Levite's concubine. book zi. 

name of Christ are countrymen, and yet strangers here below. 
How cheerfully should we entertain each other when we meet in 
the Gibeah of this inhospitable world ! 

This good old man of Gibeah came home late from his work in 
the fields: the sun was set ere he gave over; and now, seeing 
this man a stranger, an Israelite, a Levite, an Ephraimite, and 
that in his way to the house of God, to take up his lodging in 
the street, he proffers him the kindness of his houseroora. In- 
dustrious spirits are the fittest receptacles of all good motions ; 
whereas those which give themselves to idle and loose courses do 
not care so much as for themselves. I hear of but one man at 
his work in all Gibeah; the rest were quaffing and revelling. 
That one man ends his work in a charitable entertainment, the 
other end their play in a brutish beastliness and violence. 

These villains had learned both the actions and the language of 
the Sodomites ; one unclean devil was the prompter to both ; and 
this honest Ephraimite had learned of righteous Lot both to en- 
treat and to proffer. As a perplexed mariner, that in a storm 
must cast away something, although precious ; so this good host 
rather will prostitute his daughter, a virgin, together with the 
concubine, than this prodigious villany should be offered to a man, 
much more to a man of God. 

The detestation of a fouler sin drew him to overreach in the 
motion of a lesser ; which if it had been accepted, how could he 
have escaped the partnership of their uncleanness, and the guilt 
of his daughter's ravishment ? No man can wash his hands of that 
sin to which his will hath yielded. Bodily violence may be inof- 
fensive in the patient ; voluntary inclination to evil, though out of 
fear, can never be excusable : yet behold, this wickedness is too 
little to satisfy these monsters. 

Who would have looked for so extreme abomination from the 
loins of Jacob, the womb of Rachel, the sons of Benjamin ? Could 
the very Jebusites, their neighbours, be ever accused of such un- 
natural outrage ? I am ashamed to say it, even the worst pagans 
were saints to Israel. What avails it that they have the ark of 
God in Shiloh while they have Sodom in their streets ? that the 
law of God is in their fringes while the devil is in their hearts ? 
Nothing but hell itself can yield a worse creature than a depraved 
Israelite ; the very means of his reformation are the fuel of his 

Yet Lot sped so much better in Sodom than this Ephraimite 

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cont. i. The Levite s concubine. 898 

did in Gibeah, by how much more holy guests he entertained : 
there, the guests were angels; here, a sinful man; there, the 
guests saved the host ; here, the host could not save the guest 
from brutish violence: those Sodomites were stricken with out- 
ward blindness, and defeated ; these Benjaminites are only blinded 
with lust, and prevail. 

The Levite comes forth: perhaps his coat saved his person 
from this villany ; who now thinks himself well that he may have 
leave to redeem his own dishonour with his concubine's. If he 
had not loved her dearly, he had never sought her so far after 
so foul a sin ; yet now his hate of that unnatural wickedness over- 
came his love to her : she is exposed to the furious lust of bar- 
barous ruffians, and (which he misdoubteth not) abused to death. 

O the just and even course which the Almighty Judge of the 
world holds in all his retributions ! This woman had shamed the 
bed of a Levite by her former wantonness ; she had thus far 
gone smoothly away with her sin ; her father harboured her ; her 
husband forgave her ; her own heart found no cause to complain, 
because she smarted not : now when the world had forgotten her 
offence, God calls her to reckoning, and punishes her with her 
own sin. She had voluntarily exposed herself to lust, now is 
exposed forcibly. Adultery was her sin, adultery was her death. 
What smiles soever wickedness casts upon the heart while it 
solicits, it will owe us a displeasure, and prove itself a faithful 

The Levite looked to find her humbled with this violence, not 
murdered ; and now indignation moves him to add horror to the 
fact. Had not his heart been raised up with an excess of desire 
to make the crime as odious as it was sinful, his action could not 
be excused. Those hands that might not touch a carcass now 
carve the corpse of his own dead wife into morsels, and send these 
tokens to all the tribes of Israel ; that when they should see these 
gobbets of the body murdered, the more they might detest the 
murderers. Himself puts on cruelty to the dead that he might 
draw them to a just revenge of her death. Actions notoriously 
villanous may justly countenance an extraordinary means of pro- 
secution. Every Israelite hath a part in a Levite's wrong. No 
tribe hath not his share in the carcass and the revenge. 

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29* The desolation of Benjamin. book xi. 


These morsels could not choose but cut the hearts of Israel 
with horror and compassion ; horror of the act, and compassion 
of the sufferer ; and now their zeal draws them together either 
for satisfaction or revenge. Who would not have looked that the 
hands of Benjamin should have been first upon Gibeah ; and that 
they should have readily sent the heads of the offenders for a se- 
cond service after the gobbets of the concubine ? But now, instead 
of punishing the sin, they patronise the actors ; and will rather die 
in resisting justice, than live and prosper in the furthering it. 

Surely Israel had one tribe too many : all Benjamin is turned 
into Gibeah ; the sons, not of Benjamin, but of Belial. The abet- 
ting of evil is worse than the commission ; this may be upon in- 
firmity, but that must be upon resolution. Easy punishment is too 
much favour to sin ; connivance is much worse ; but. the defence of 
it, and that unto blood, is intolerable. 

Had not these men been both wicked and quarrellous, they had 
not drawn their swords in so foul a cause. Peaceable dispositions 
are hardly drawn to fight for innocence ; yet these Benjamin! tes, 
as if they were in love with villany and out of charity with God, 
will be the wilful champions of lewdness. How can Gibeah re- 
pent them of that wickedness which all Benjamin will make good 
in spite of their consciences? Even where sin is suppressed, it will 
rise ; but where it is encouraged, it insults and tyrannizes. 

It was more just that Israel should rise against Benjamin, than 
that Benjamin should rise for Gibeah, by how much it is better 
to punish offenders than to shelter the offenders from punishing ; 
and yet the wickedness of Benjamin sped better for the time than 
the honesty of Israel. Twice was the better part foiled by the less 
and worse ; the good cause was sent back with shame ; the evil 
returned with victory and triumph. God, their hand was for 
thee in the fight, and thy hand was with them in their fall: 
they had not fought for thee, but by thee ; neither could they 
have miscarried in the fight, if thou hadst not fought against 
them : thou art just and holy in both. The cause was thine ; the 
sin in managing of it was their own. They fought in a holy quarrel, 
but with confidence in themselves ; for, as presuming of victory, 
they ask of God, not what should be their success, but who should 
be their captain. Number and innocence made them too secure : 
it was just therefore with God to let them feel, that even good zeal 

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cont. ii. The desolation of Benjamin. 295 

cannot bear out presumption; and that victory lies not in the 
cause, but in the God that owns it. 

Who cannot imagine how much the Benjaminites insulted in 
their double field and day ; and now began to think God was on 
their side? Those swords which had been taught the way into 
forty thousand bodies of their brethren cannot fear a new en- 
counter. Wicked men cannot see their prosperity a piece of 
their curse ; neither can examine their actions, but the events : 
soon after, they shall find what it was to add blood unto filthi- 
ness, and that the victory of an evil cause is the way to ruin and 

I should have feared lest this double discomfiture should have 
made Israel either distrustful or weary of a good cause ; but still 
I find them no less courageous, with more humility. Now they 
fast and weep and sacrifice. These weapons had been victorious 
in their first assault : Benjamin had never been in danger of pride 
for overcoming, if this humiliation of Israel had prevented the fight. 
It is seldom seen but that which wc do with fear prospereth ; 
whereas confidence in undertaking lays even good endeavours in 
the dust. 

Wickedness could never brag of any long prosperity, nor com- 
plain of the lack of payment : still God is even with it at the last* 
Now he pays the Benjaminites, both that death which they had 
lent to the Israelites, and that wherein they stood indebted to 
their brotherhood of Gibeah : and now, that both are met in 
death, there is as much difference betwixt those Israelites and 
these Benjaminites, as betwixt martyrs and malefactors. To die 
in a sin is a fearful revenge of giving patronage to sin : the sword 
consumes their bodies, another fire their cities, whatsoever became 
of their souls. 

Now might Rachel have justly wept for her children because 
they were not ; for, behold, the men, women, and children of her 
wicked tribe are cut off: only some few scattered remainders ran 
away from this vengeance, and lurked in caves and rocks, both 
for fear and shame. There was no difference, but life, betwixt 
their brethren and them : the earth covered them both : yet unto 
them doth the revenge of Israel stretch itself, and vows to de- 
stroy, if not their persons, yet their succession ; as holding them 
unworthy to receive any comfort by that sex to which they had 
been so cruel both in act and maintenance. If the Israelites had 
not held marriage and issue a very great blessing, they had not 

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296 The desolation of Benjamin. book xi. 

thus revenged themselves of Benjamin : now, they accounted the 
withholding of their wives a punishment second unto death. The 
hope of life in our posterity is the next contentment to an en- 
joying of life in ourselves. 

They have sworn, and now upon cold blood repent them. If 
the oath were not just, why would they take it ? and if it were 
just, why did they recant it ? If the act were justifiable, what 
needed these tears? Even a just oath may be rashly taken ; not 
only injustice, but temerity of swearing, ends in lamentation. In 
our very civil actions, it is a weakness to do that which we would 
after reverse ; but in our affairs with God, to check ourselves too 
late, and to steep our oaths in tears, is a dangerous folly. He 
doth not command us to take voluntary oaths ; he commands us to 
keep them. If we bind ourselves to inconvenience, we may justly 
complain of our own fetters. Oaths do not only require justice, 
but judgment ; wise deliberation no less than equity. 

Not conscience of their fact, but commiseration of their bre- 
thren, led them to this public repentance. O God, why is this 
come to pass, that this day one tribe of Israel shall want f 
Even the justest revenge of men is capable of pity. Insultation 
in the rigour of justice argues cruelty. Charitable minds are 
grieved to see that done which they would not wish undone ; the 
smart of the offender doth not please them, which yet are tho- 
roughly displeased with the sin, and have given their hands to 
punish it. God himself takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner, 
yet loves the punishment of sin ; as a good parent whips his child, 
yet weeps himself. There is a measure in victory and revenge if 
never so just, which to exceed loses mercy in the suit of justice. 

If there were no fault in their severity, it needed no excuse; 
and if thero were a fault, it will admit of no excuse : yet as if they 
meant to shift off the sin, they expostulate with God ; Lord 
Ood of Israel, why is this come to pass this day ? God gave 
them no command of this rigour ; yea, he twice crossed them in 
the execution, and now in that which they entreated of God with 
tears, they challenge him. It is a dangerous injustice to lay 
the burden of our sins upon him which tempteth no man, nor 
can be tempted with evil ; while we would so remove our sin, we 
double it. 

A man that knew not the power of an oath would wonder at 
this contrariety in the affections of Israel : they are sorry for the 
daughter of Benjamin ; and yet they slay those that did not help 

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cont. ii. The desolation of Benjamin. 297 

them in the slaughter. Their oath calls them to more blood. 
The excess of their revenge upon Benjamin may not excuse the 
men of Gilead. If ever oath might look for a dispensation, this 
might plead it ; now they dare not but kill the men of Jabesh- 
Gilead, lest they should have left upon themselves a greater sin 
of sparing than punishing. 

Jabesh-Gilead came not up to aid Israel, therefore all the in- 
habitants must die. To exempt ourselves, whether out of singula- 
rity or stubbornness, from the common actions of the church, 
when we are lawfully called to them, is an offence worthy of 
judgment. In the main quarrels of the church, neutrals are 

This execution shall make amends for the former : of the spoil 
of Jabesh-Gilead shall the Benjaminites be stored with wives : 
that no man may think these men slain for their daughters, they 
plainly die for their sin; and these Gileadites might not have 
lived without the perjury of Israel : and now, sith they must die, 
it is good to make benefit of necessity. I inquire not into the 
rigour of the oath. If their solemn vow did not bind them to 
kill all of both sexes in Benjamin, why did they not spare their 
virgins ? And if it did so bind them, why did they spare the 
virgins of Gilead ? Favours must be enlarged in all these religious 
restrictions : where breadth may be taken in them, it is not fit 
nor safe they should be straitened. 

Four hundred virgins of Gilead have lost parents and brethren 
and kindred, and now find husbands in lieu of them. An enforced 
marriage was but a miserable comfort for such a loss : like wards 
or captives, they are taken and choose not. These suffice not : 
their friendly adversaries consult for more upon worse conditions. 
Into what troublesome and dangerous straits do men thrust them- 
selves by either unjust or inconsiderate vows I 

In the midst of all this common lawlessness of Israel, here was 
conscience made on both sides of matching with infidels : the 
Israelites can rather be content their daughters should be stolen 
by their own, than that the daughters of aliens should be given 
them. These men which had not grace enough to detest and 
punish the beastliness of their Gileadites, yet are not so graceless 
as to choose them wives of the heathen. All but atheists, how- 
soever they let themselves loose, yet in some things find them- 
selves restrained, and show to others that they have a conscience. 
If there were not much danger and much sin in this unequal yoke, 

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298 The desolation of Benjamin. book xi. 

they would never have persuaded to so heavy an inconvenience : 
disparity of religion in matrimonial contracts hath so many mis- 
chiefs, that it is worthy to be redeemed with much prejudice. 

They which might not give their own daughters to Benjamin, 
yet give others, while they give leave to steal them. Stolen mar- 
riages are both unnatural and full of hazard ; for love, whereof 
marriage is the knot, cannot be forced. This was rather rape 
than wedlock. What unlikeness, perhaps contrariety of disposition, 
what averseness of affection may there not be in not only a sudden 
but a forcible meeting ! If these Benjaminites had not taken liberty 
of giving themselves ease by divorcement, they would often have 
found leisure to rue this stolen booty. This act may not be drawn 
to example, and yet here was a kind of indefinite consent : both 
deliberation and good liking are little enough for a during estate, 
and that which is once done for ever. 

These virgins come up to the feast of the Lord ; and now, out 
of the midst of their dances are carried to a double captivity. 
How many virgins have lost themselves in dances ! And yet this 
sport was not immodest. These virgins danced by themselves, 
without the company of those which might move towards un- 
chastity ; for if any men had been with them they had found so 
many rescuers as they had assaulters ; now the exposing of their 
weak sex to this injury proves their innocence. Our usual dances 
are guilty of more sin : wanton gestures, and unchaste touches, 
looks, motions, draw the heart to folly : the ambushes of evil spirits 
carry away many a soul from dances to a fearful desolation. 

It is supposed that the parents thus robbed of their daughters 
will take it heavily. There cannot be a greater cross than the 
miscarriage of children : they are not only the living goods, but 
pieces of their parents ; that they should therefore be torn from 
them by violence is no less injury than the dismembering of their 
own bodies. 


Betwixt the reign of the Judges, Israel was plagued with ty- 
ranny ; and while some of them reigned, with famine. Seldom did 
that rebellious people want somewhat to humble them; one rod 
is not enough for a stubborn child. 

The famine must needs be great that makes the inhabitants 
to run their country. The name of home is so sweet that we can- 

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cont. in. Naomi and Ruth. 299 

not leave it for a little. Behold, that land which had wont to flow 
with milk and honey, now abonnds with want and penury ; and 
Bethlehem* instead of a house of bread, is a house of famine. A 
fruitful land doth Ood make barren for tlie wickedness of them 
that dwell therein. The earth bears not for itself, but for us ; 
God is not angry with it, but with men. For our sakes it was first 
cursed to thorns and thistles ; after that to moisture, and since 
that, not seldom, to drought; and by all these to barrenness. 
We may not look always for plenty. It is a wonder, while there 
is such superfluity of wickedness, that our earth is not more sparing 
of her fruits. 

The whole earth is the Lord's, and in him ours. It is lawful for 
the owners to change their houses at pleasure. Why should we not 
make free use of any part of our own possessions ? Elimelech and 
his family remove from Bethlehem-Judah unto Moab. Nothing but 
necessity can dispense with a local relinquishing of God's Church ; 
not pleasure, not profit, not curiosity. Those which are famished 
out God calls, yea drives from thence. The Creator and Possessor 
of the earth hath not confined any man to his necessary de- 

It was lawful for Elimelech to make use of pagans and idolaters 
for the supply of all needful helps. There cannot be -a better 
employment of Moabites than to be the treasurers and purveyors 
of God's children ; wherefore serve they but to gather for the true 
owners? It is too much nicencss in them which forbear the benefit 
they might make of the faculties of profane or heretical persons : 
they consider not that they have more right to the good such 
men can do, than they that do it and challenge that good for 
thoir own. 

But I cannot see how it could be lawful for his sons to match, 
with the daughters of Moab. Had these men heard how far, and 
under how solemn an oath, their father Abraham, sent for a wife 
of his own tribe for his son Isaac ? Had they heard the earnest 
charge of holy Isaac to the son he blessed, Thou shalt not take a 
wife of the daughters of Canaan ? Had they forgotten the plagues 
of Israel for but a short conversation with the Moabitish women ? 
If they plead remoteness from their own people, did they not re- 
member how far Jacob walked to Padan-Arara ? Was it farther 
from Moab to Bethlehem than from Bethlehem to Moab ? And if 
the care of themselves led them from Bethlehem to Moab, should 
* [onb rva, the house of Bread.] 

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800 Naomi and Ruth. book xi. 

not their care of obedience to God have as well carried them back 
from Moab to Bethlehem ? Tet if their wives would have left their 
idolatry with their maidenhead, the match had been more safe ; 
but now even at the last farewell, Naomi can say of Orpah, that 
she is returned to her gods. 

These men have sinned in their choice, and it speeds with them 
accordingly. Where did ever one of these unequal matches pros- 
per ? The two sons of Elimelech are swept away childless in the 
prime of their age ; and instead of their seed they leave their 
carcasses in Moab, their wives widows, their mother childless and 
helpless amongst infidels, in that age which most needed comfort. 

How miserable do we now find poor Naomi ! which is left des- 
titute of her country, her husband, her children, her friends ; and 
turned loose and solitary to the mercy of the world ; yet even out 
of these hopeless ruins will God raise comfort to his servant. The 
first good news is, that God hath visited his people with bread ; 
now therefore, since her husband and sons were unrecoverable, she 
will try to recover her country and kindred. If we can have the 
same conditions in Judah that we have in Moab, we are no Israelites 
if we return not. While her husband and sons lived, I hear no 
motion of retiring home ; now these her earthly stays are removed, 
she thinks presently of removing to her country. Neither can we 
so heartily think of our home above, while we are furnished with 
these worldly contentments : when God strips us of them, straight- 
ways our mind is homeward. 

She that came from Bethlehem under the protection of an hus- 
band, attended with her sons, stored with substance, resolves now 
to measure all that way alone. Her adversity had stripped her 
of all but a good heart ; that remains with her, and bears up her 
head in the deepest of her extremity. True Christian fortitude 
wades through all evils ; and though we be up to the chin, yet 
keeps firm footing against the stream : where this is, the sex is 
not discerned, neither is the quantity of the evil read in the face. 
How well doth this courage become Israelites when we are left 
comfortless in the midst of the Moab of this world, to resolve 
the contempt of all dangers in the way to our home 1 As contrarily, 
nothing doth more misbeseem a Christian than that his spirit 
should flag with his estate, and that any difficulty should make 
him despair of attaining his best ends. 

Goodness is of a winning quality wheresoever it is ; and even 
amongst infidels will make itself friends. The good disposition of 

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cont. in. Naomi and Ruth. 301 

Naomi carries away the hearts of her daughters-in-law with her ; 
so as they are ready to forsake their kindred, their country, yea, 
their own mother for a stranger, whose affinity died with her sons. 
Those men are worse than infidels, and next to devils, that hate 
the virtues of God's saints, and could love their persons well if they 
were not conscionable. 

How earnestly do these two daughters of Moab plead for their 
continuance with Naomi ; and how hardly is either of them dis- 
suaded from partaking of the misery of her society ! There are 
good natures even among infidels ; and such as, for moral dis- 
position and civil respects, cannot be exceeded by the best pro- 
fessors I Who can suffer his heart to rest in those qualities which 
are common to them that are without God ? 

Naomi could not be so insensible of her own good, as not to 
know how much comfort she might reap, to the solitariness both 
of her voyage and her widowhood, by the society of these two 
younger widows, whose affections she had so well tried ; even very 
partnership is a mitigation of evils ; yet so earnestly doth she dis- 
suade them from accompanying her, as that she could not have 
said more if she had thought their presence irksome and burdcnous. 
Good dispositions love not to pleasure themselves with the disad- 
vantage of others, and had rather be miserable alone than to draw 
in partners to their sorrow ; for the sight of another's calamity 
doth rather double their own ; and if themselves were free would 
affect them with compassion : as contrarily, ill minds care not how 
many companions they have in misery, nor how few consorts in 
good ; if themselves miscarry, they could be content all the world 
were enwrapped with them in the same distress. 

I marvel not that Orpah is by this seasonable importunity per- 
suaded to return ; from a mother-in-law to a mother in nature, 
from a toilsome journey to rest, from strangers to her kindred, 
from a hopeless condition to likelihoods of contentment. A little 
entreaty will serve to move nature to be good unto itself. Every 
one is rather a Naomi to his own soul, to persuade it to stay still, 
and enjoy the delights of Moab, rather than to hazard our enter- 
tainment in Bethlehem. Will religion allow me this wild liberty 
of my actions, this loose mirth, these carnal pleasures ? Can I be 
a Christian, and not live sullenly ? None but a regenerate heart 
can choose rather to suffer adversity with God's people than to 
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. 

The one sister takes an unwilling farewell, and moistens her 

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302 Naomi and Ruth. book xi. 

last kisses with many tears : the other cannot be driven back, but 
repels one entreaty with another ; Entreat me not to leave thee ; 
for whither thou goest, I will go ; where tliou dwellest, I will 
dwell : thy people shall be my people, thy God my God ; where 
thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried. Ruth saw so 
much upon ten years' trial in Naomi as was more worth than all 
Moab ; and in comparison whereof all worldly respects deserved 
nothing but contempt : the next degree unto godliness is the love 
of goodness : he is in a fair way to grace that can value it : if she 
had not been already a proselyte, she could not have set this price 
upon Naomi's virtue. Love cannot be separated from a desire of 
fruition : in vain had Ruth protested her affection to Naomi, if 
she could have turned her out to her journey alone : love to the 
saints doth not more argue our interest in God, than society 
argues the truth of our love. 

As some tight vessel that holds out against wind and water, so 
did Ruth against all the powers of a mother's persuasions. The 
impossibility of the comfort of marriage in following her, which 
drew back her sister-in-law, cannot move her. She hears her 
mother, like a modest matron, contrary to the fashion of these 
times, say, I am too old to have a husband; and yet she thinks 
not, on the contrary, " I am too young to want a husband." 

It should seem, the Moabites had learned this fashion of Israel, 
to expect the brother's raising of seed to the deceased: the 
widowhood and age of Naomi cut off that hope ; neither could 
Ruth then dream of a Boaz that might advance her ; it is no love 
that cannot make us willing to be miserable for those we affect : 
the hollowest heart can be content to follow one that prospereth : 
adversity is the only furnace of friendship : if love will not abide 
both fire and anvil, it is but counterfeit ; so in our love to God, 
we do but crack and vaunt in vain, if we cannot be willing to 
suffer for him. 

But if any motive might hope to speed, that which was drawn 
from example was most likely ; Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone 
back unto her people, and to her gods : return thou after her. 
This ope artless persuasion hath prevailed more with the world 
than all the places of reason : how many millions miscarry upon 
this ground ; " Thus did my forefathers ; thus do the most : I am 
neither the first nor the last!" Do any of the rulers? Wo 
straight think that either safe or pardonable for which we can 
plead a precedent This good woman hath more warrant for her 

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co xt. iv. Boaz and Ruth. 803 

resolution than another's practice. The mind can never be steady 
while it stands upon others' feet, and till it be settled upon such 
grounds of assurance, that it will rather lead than follow ; and 
can say with Joshua, whatsoever become of the world, / and my 
house will serve the Lord. 

If Naomi had not been a person of eminent note, no knowledge 
had been taken at Bethlehem of her return. Poverty is ever 
obscure ; and those that have little may go and come without 
noise. If the streets of Bethlehem had not before used to say, 
"There goes Naomi," they had not now asked, Is not this 
Naomi ? She that had lost all things but her name is willing to 
part with that also ; Call me not Naomi, but call me Marah. 
Her humility cares little for a glorious name in a dejected estate. 
Many a one would have set faces upon their want, and in the 
bitterness of their condition have affected the name of beauty. 
In all forms of good, there are more that care to seem than to 
be: Naomi hates this hypocrisy; and since God hath humbled 
her, desires not to be respected of men. Those which are truly 
brought down make it not dainty that the world should think 
them so, but are ready to be the first proclaimers of their own 

Naomi went full out of Bethlehem to prevent want ; and now 
she brings that want home with her which she desired to avoid. 
Our blindness oft times carries us into the perils we seek to 
eschew: God finds it best many # times to cross the likely projects 
of his dearest children, and to multiply those afflictions which 
they feared single. 

Ten years have turned Naomi into Marah : what assurance is 
there of these earthly things, whereof one hour may strip us ? 
What man can say of the years to come, " Thus I will be?" How 
justly do we contemn this uncertainty, and look up to those 
riches that cannot but endure, when heaven and earth are 
dissolved ! 

BOAZ AND RUTH.— Ruth ii, iii, iv. 

While Elimelech shifted to Moab, to avoid the famine, Boaz 
abode still at Bethlehem, and continued rich and powerful ; he 
staid at home, and found that which Elimelech went to seek, 
and missed. The judgment of famine doth not lightly extend 

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304 Boaz and Ruth. book xi. 

itself to all: pestilence and the sword spare none: but dearth 
commonly plagueth the meaner sort, and baulketh the mighty. 
When Boaz's storehouse was empty, his fields were full, and 
maintained the name of Bethlehem. 

I do not hear Ruth stand upon the terms of her better educa- 
tion or wealthy parentage ; but now that God hath called her to 
want, she scorns not to lay her hand unto all homely, services, 
and thinks it no disparagement to find her bread in other men's 
fields: there is no harder lesson to a generous mind, nor that 
more beseems it, than either to bear want or to prevent it : base c 
spirits give themselves over to idleness and misery, and because 
they are crossed will sullenly perish. 

That good woman hath not been for nothing in the school of 
patience, she hath learned obedience to a poor stepmother : she 
was now a widow past reach of any danger of correction ; besides 
that penury might seem to dispense with awe. Even children do 
easily learn to contemn the poverty of their own parents. Tet 
hath she sb inured herself to obedience, that she will not so much as 
go forth into, the field to glean without the leave of her mother-in- 
law, and is no less obsequious to Marah than she was to Naomi. 
What shall we say to those children that in the main actions of 
their life forget they have natural parents ? It is a shame to see 
that in mean families want of substance causeth want of duty ; and 
that children should think themselves privileged for irreverence 
because the parent is poor. 

Little do we know when we go forth in the morning what God 
means to do with us ere night. There is a Providence that attends 
on us in ail our ways, and guides us insensibly to his own ends. 
That divine hand leads Ruth blindfold to the field of Boaz. That 
she meets with his reapers, and falls upon his land amongst all the 
fields of Bethlehem, it was no praise to her election, but the gra- 
cious disposition of Him in whom we move : his thoughts are above 
ours, and do so order our actions, as we, if we had known, 
should have wished. 

No sooner is she come into the field but the reapers are friendly 
to her ; no sooner is Boaz come into his field but he invites her 
to more bounty than she could have desired : now God begins to 
repay into her bosom her love and duty to her mother-in-law. 
Reverence and loving respects to parents never yet went away 
unrecompensed: God will surely raise up friends amongst strangers 
to those that have been officious at home. 

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:ont. iv. Boaz and Ruth. 305 

It was worth Ruth's journey from Moab to meet with such a 
man as Boaz ; whom we find thrifty , religions, charitable. Though 
he were rich, yet lie was not careless : he comes into the field to 
oversee his reapers. Even the best estate requires careful ma- 
naging of the owner. He wanted not officers to take charge of his 
husbandry, yet he had rather be his own witness : after all the 
trust of others, the master's eye feeds the horse. The Master of 
this great household of the world gives us an example of this care, 
whose eye is in every corner of his large possession. Not civility 
only, but religion, binds us to good husbandry. We are all stewards ; 
and what account can we give to our Master if we never look after 
our estate ? 

I doubt whether Boaz had been so rich if he had not been so 
frugal ; yet was be not jnore thrifty than religious : he comes not 
to his reapers but with a blessing in his mouth — The Lard be with 
you; as one that knew if he were with them and not the Lord, 
his presence could avail nothing. All the business of the family 
speeds the better for the master's benediction. Those affairs are 
likely to succeed that take their beginning at God. 

Charity was well matched with his religion ; without which 
good words are but hypocrisy : no sooner doth he hear the name 
of the Moabitess, but he seconds the kindness of his reapers, and 
still he rises in his favours : first she may glean in his field, then 
she may drink of his vessels, then she shall take her meal with 
his reapers, and part of it from his own hand ; lastly, his workmen 
must let fall sheaves for her gathering. 

A small thing helps the needy ; a handful of gleanings, a lap- 
full of parched corn, a draught of the servants' bottles, a loose 
sheaf, was such a favour to Ruth, as she thought was above all 
recompense : this was not seen in the estate of Boaz. which yet 
makes her for the time happy. If we may refresh the soul of the 
poor with the very offals of our estate, and not hurt ourselves, woe 
be to us if we do it not. Our barns shall be as full of curses as of 
corn, if we grudge the scattered ears of our field to the hands of 
the needy. 

How thankfully doth Ruth take these small favours from Boaz ! 
Perhaps some rich jewel in Moab would not have been so wel- 
come. Even this was a presage of her better estate. Those which 
shall receive great blessings are ever thankful for little; and if 
poor souls be so thankful to us for but a handful or a sheaf, how 


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306 Boaz and Ruth. book xi. 

should we be affected to our God for whole fields full, for full 
barns, full garners ! 

Doubtless Boaz, having taken notice of the good nature, dutiful 
carriage, and the near affinity of Ruth, could not but purpose 
some greater beneficence and higher respects to her : yet now 
onwards he fits his kindness to her condition, and gives her that 
which to her meanness seemed much, though he thought it little. 
Thus doth the bounty of our God deal with us : it is not for want 
of love that he gives us no greater measure of grace, but for want 
of our fitness and capacity : he hath reserved greater preferments 
for us when it shall be seasonable for us to receive them. 

Ruth returns home wealthy with her ephah of barley, and 
thankfully magnifies the liberality of Boaz her new benefactor : 
Naomi repays his beneficence with her blessing ; Blessed be ht of 
the Lord. If the rich can exchange their alms with the poor for 
blessings, they have no cause to complain of an ill bargain. Our 
gifts cannot be worth their faithful prayers : therefore it is better 
to give than to receive ; because he that receives hath but a worth- 
less alms, he that gives receives an invaluable blessing. 

1 cannot but admire the modesty and silence of these two 
women: Naomi had not so much as talked of her kindred in 
Bethlehem, nor till now had she told Ruth that she had a wealthy 
kinsman, neither had Ruth inquired of her husband's great alli- 
ance, but both sat down meekly with their own wants, and cared 
not to know any thing else save that themselves were poor. Hu- 
mility is ever the way to honour. 

It is a discourtesy, where we are beholden, to alter our depend- 
ency : like as men of trade take it ill if customers which are in 
their books go for their wares to another shop. Wisely doth 
Naomi advise Ruth not to be seen in any other field while the 
harvest lasted. The very taking of their favours is a contentment 
to those which have already well deserved ; and it is quarrel 
enough that their courtesy is not received. How shall the God 
of heaven take it, that while he gives and proffers large, we run 
to the world, that can afford us nothing but vanity and vexation? 

Those that can least act are ofttimes the best to advise. Good 
old Naomi sits still at home, and by her counsel pays Ruth all the 
love she owes her. 

The face of that action to which she directs her is the worst 
piece of it ; the heart was sound. Perhaps the assurance which 

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cont. iv. Boaz and Ruth. 307 

long trial had given her of the good government and firm chastity 
of her daughter-in-law, together with her persuasion of the reli- 
gious gravity of Boaz, made her think that design safe, which to 
others had been perilous, if not desperate. But besides that, . 
holding Boaz next of blood to Elimelech, she made account of him 
as the lawful husband of Ruth, so as there wanted nothing but a 
challenge and consummation. Nothing was abated but some out- 
ward solemnities, which though expedient for the satisfaction of 
others, yet were not essential to marriage. 

And if there were not these colours for a project so suspicious, 
it would not follow that the action were warrantable because 
Naomi's. Why should her example be more safe in this than 
in matching her sons with infidels ; than in sending back Orpah 
to her father's gods ? If every act of an holy person should be our 
rule, we should have crooked lives : every action that is reported 
is not straightways allowed. Our courses were very uncertain, if 
God had not given us rules whereby we may examine the 
examples of the best saints, and as well censure as follow them. 
Let them that stumble at the boldness of Ruth imitate the con- 
tinence of Boaz. 

These times were not delicate. This man, though great in 
Bethlehem, lays him down to rest upon a pallet in the floor of 
his barn. When he awakes at midnight, no marvel if he were 
amazed to find himself accompanied ; yet though his heart were 
cheered with wine, the place solitary, the night silent, the person 
comely, the invitation plausible, could he not be drawn to a rash 
act of lust : his appetite could not get the victory of reason, though 
it had wine and opportunity to help it. Herein Boaz showed him- 
self a great master of his affections, that he was able to* resist a 
fit temptation. It is no thank to many that they are free of some 
evils ; perhaps they wanted not will but convenience. But if a 
man, when he is fitted with all helps to his sin, can repel the plea- 
sure of sin out of conscience, this is true fortitude. 

Instead of touching her as a wanton, he blesses her as a father, 
encourageth her as a friend, promiseth her as a kinsman, rewards 
her as a patron, and sends her away laden with hopes and gifts ; 
no less chaste, more happy than she came. O admirablo tem- 
perance, worthy the progenitor of him in whose lips and heart 
was no guile ! 

If Boaz had been the next kinsman the marriage had needed 
no protraction; but now that his conscience told him that Ruth 

x 2 

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808 Boaz and Ruth. book xi. 

was the right of another, it had not been more sensuality than 
injustice to have touched his kinswoman. It was not any bodily 
impotency, but honesty and conscience, that restrained Boaz ; for 
the very next night she conceived by him. That good man wished 
his marriage-bed holy, and durst not lie down in the doubt of a 
sin. Many a man is honest out of necessity, and affects the 
praise of that which he could not avoid ; but that man's mind is 
still an adulterer in the forced continence of his bodv. No action 
can give us true comfort, but that which we do out of the grounds 
of obedience. 

Those which are fearful of sinning are careful not to be thought 
to sin. Boaz, though he knew himself to be clear, would not have 
occasion of suspicion given to others ; Let no man know that a 
woman came into the floor : a good heart is no less afraid of a 
scandal than of a sin ; whereas those that are resolved not to make 
any scruple of sin, despise others' constructions, not caring whom 
they offend so that they may please themselves. 

That Naomi might see her daughter-in-law was not sent back 
in dislike, she comes home laden with corn. Ruth hath gleaned 
more this night than in half the harvest. The care of Boaz was 
that she should not return to her mother empty : love, whereso- 
ever it is, cannot be niggardly. We measure the love of God by 
his gifts : how shall he abide to send us away empty from those 
treasures of goodness ! 

Boaz is restless in the prosecution of this suit : and hies him 
from his threshingfloor to the gate, and there convents the nearer 
kinsman before the elders of the city. What was it that made 
Boaz so ready to entertain, so forward to urge this match? 
Wealth she had none, not so much as bread, but what she gleaned 
out of the field ; friends she had none, and those she had else- 
where, Moabites; beauty she could not have much, after that 
scorching in her travel, in her gleanings : himself tells her what 
drew his heart to her ; All the city of my people doth know that 
thou art a virtuous woman. Virtue, in whomsoever it is found, 
is a great dowry ; and where it meets with a heart that knows 
how to value it, is accounted greater riches than all that is hid in 
the bowels of the earth. The corn heap of Boaz was but chaff to 
this, and his money dross. 

As a man that had learned to square his actions to the law of 
God, Boaz proceeds legally with his rival ; and tells him of a 
parcel of Elimelech's land (which, it is like, upon his removal to 

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cont. iv. Boaz and Ruth. 309 

Moab, he had alienated) ; which he, as the next kinsman, might 
have power to redeem ; jet so as he must purchase the wife of 
the deceased with the land. Every kinsman is not a Boaz : the 
man could listen to the land if it had been free from the clog of a 
necessary marriage ; but now he will rather leave the land than 
take the wife, lest, while he should preserve Elimelech's inherit- 
ance, he should destroy his own; for the next seed which he 
should have by Ruth should not be his heir, but his deceased 
kinsman's. How knew he whether God might not by that wife 
send heirs enow for both their estates ? Rather had he therefore 
incur a manifest injustice than hazard the danger of his inherit- 
ance. The law of God bound him to raise up seed to the next in 
blood ; the care of his inheritance draws him to a neglect of his 
duty, though with infamy and reproach ; and now, he had rather 
his face should be spit upon, and his name should be called, The 
house of him whose shoe was pulled off, than to reserve the ho- 
nour of him that did his brother right to his own prejudice. 

How many are there that do so overlove their issue, as that 
they regard neither sin nor shame in advancing it ; and that will 
rather endanger their soul than lose their name ! It is a woful 
inheritance that makes men heirs of the vengeance of God. Boaz 
is glad to take the advantage of his refusal ; and holds that shoe, 
which was the sign of his tenure, more worth than all the land of 
Elimelech. And whereas other wives purchase their husbands 
with a large dowry, this man purchaseth his wife at a dear rate, 
and thinks his bargain happy. All the substance of the earth is 
not worth a virtuous and prudent wife ; which Boaz doth now so 
rejoice in, as if he this day only began to be wealthy. 

Now is Ruth taken into the house of Boaz : she, that before 
had said she was not like one of his maidens, is now become their 
mistress. This day she hath gleaned all the fields and barns of 
a rich husband ; and that there might be no want in her happi- 
ness, by a gracious husband she hath gained a happy seed ; and 
hath the honour, above all the dames of Israel, to be the great- 
grandmother of a king, of David, of the Messiah. 

Now is Marah turned back again to Naomi ; and Or pah, if she 
hear of this in Moab, cannot but envy at her sister's happiness. 
the sure and bountiful payments of the Almighty! Who ever 
came under his wing in vain ? who ever lost by trusting him ? 
who ever forsook the Moab of this world for the true Israel, and 
did not at last rejoice in the change ? 

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310 Hannah and Peninnah. book xi. 


Ill customs, where they are once entertained, are not easily 
discharged. Polygamy, besides carnal delight, might now plead 
age and example ; so as even Elkanab, though a Levite, is 
tainted with the sin of Lamech : like as fashions of attire, which 
at the first were disliked as uncomely, yet when they are once 
grown common are taken up of the gravest. 

Yet this sin, as then current with the time, could not make 
Elkanah not religious. The house of God in Shiloh was duly 
frequented of him; oftentimes alone, in his ordinary course of 
attendance ; with all his males, thrice a year ; and once a year 
with all his family. The continuance of an unknown sin cannot 
hinder the uprightness of a man's heart with God; as a man 
may have a mole upon his back, and yet think his skin clqar : the 
least touch of knowledge or wilfulness mars his sincerity. 

He that by virtue of his place was employed about the sacri- 
fices of others, would much less neglect his own. It is a shame 
for him that teaches God's people, that they should not appear 
before the Lord empty, to bring no sacrifice for himself. If 
Levites be profane, who should be religious? 

It was the fashion when they sacrificed to feast; so did EU 
kanah. The day of his devotion is the day of his triumph : he 
makes great cheer for his whole family, even for that wife which 
he loved less. There is nothing more comely than cheerfulness 
in the services of God. What is there in all the world wherewith 
the heart of man should be so lift up as with the conscience of 
his duty done to his Maker ? While we do so, God doth to us as 
our glass, smile upon us while we smile on him. 

Love will be seen by entertainment : Peninnah and her chil- 
dren shall not complain of want, but Hannah shall find her hus- 
band's affection in her portion : as his love to her was double, so 
was her part. 

She fared not ihe worse because she was childless : no good 
husband will dislike his wife for a fault out of the power of her 
redress ; yea, rather, that which might seem to lose the love of 
her husband wins it, her barrenness. The good nature of Elka- 
nah laboured by his dear respects to recompense this affliction, 
that so she might find no less contentment in the fruit of his 
hearty love, than she had grief from her own fruitlessness. It is 
the property of true mercy to be most favourable to the weakest ; 

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cont. v. Hannah and Peninnah. 311 

thus doth the gracious spouse of the Christian soul pity the bar- 
renness of his servants. O Saviour, we should not find thee so 
indulgent to us, if we did not complain of our own unworthiness. 
Peninnah may have the more children, but barren Hannah hath 
the most love. How much rather could Elkanah have wished 
Peninnah barren, and Hannah fruitful ! but if she should have had 
both issue and love, she had been proud, and her rival despised. 
God knows how to disperse his favours so that every one may 
have cause both of thankfulness and humiliation ; while there is 
no one that hath all, no one but hath some. If envy and content 
were not thus equally tempered, some would be over-haughty 
and others too miserable ; but now every man sees that in himself 
which is worthy of contempt, and matter of emulation in others ; 
and contrarily, sees what to pity and dislike in the most eminent, 
and what to applaud in himself; and out of this contrariety arises 
a sweet mean of contentation. 

The love of Elkanah is so unable to free Hannah from the 
wrongs of her rival, that it procures them rather. The unfruit- 
fulness of Hannah had never with so much despite been laid in 
her dish if her husband's heart had been as barren of love to her. 
Envy, though it take advantage of our weaknesses, yet is ever 
raised upon some grounds of happiness in them whom it emulates : 
it is ever an ill effect of a good cause. If Abel's sacrifice had not 
been accepted, and if the acceptation of his sacrifice had not been 
a blessing, no envy had followed upon it. 

There is no evil of another wherein it is fit to rejoice, but his 
envy ; and this is worthy of our joy and thankfulness, because it 
shows us the price of that good which we had and valued not. 
The malignity of envy is thus well answered when it is made the 
evil cause of a good effect to us ; when God and our souls may 
gun by another's sin. I do not find that Hannah insulted upon 
Peninnah for the greater measure of her husband's love, as Pe- 
ninnah did upon her for her fruitfulness. Those # that are truly 
gracious know how to receive the blessings tf God without con- 
tempt of them that want, and have learned to be thankful with- 
out overliness. 

Envy, when it is once conceived in a malicious heart, is like 
fire in billets of juniper, which, they say, continues more years 
than one. Every year was Hannah thus vexed with her emulous 
partner, and troubled both in her prayers and meals. Amidst 
all their feastings she fed on nothing but her tears. Some dispo- 

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812 Hannah and Peninnah. hook xi. 

sitions are less sensible and more careless of the despite and in- 
juries of others, and can turn over unkind usages with contempt. 
By how much more tender the heart is, so much more deeply is 
it ever affected with discourtesies: as wax receives and retains 
that impression which in the hard clay cannot be seen ; or as the 
eye feels that mote which the skin of the eyelid could not com- 
plain of. 

Yet the husband of Hannah, as one that knew his duty, la- 
bours by his love to comfort her against these discontentments ; 
Why weepest thou ? Am not I better to thee than ten sons ? It is 
the weakness of good natures to give so much advantage to an 
enemy : what would malice rather have than the vexation of them 
whom it persecutes ? We cannot better please an adversary than 
by hurting ourselves : this is no other than to humour envy, to 
serve the turn of those that malign us, and to draw on that malice 
whereof we are weary ; whereas carelessness puts ill-will out of 
countenance, and makes it withdraw itself in a rage, as that which 
doth but shame the author without the hurt of the patient. In 
causeless wrongs, the best remedy is contempt. 

She that could not find comfort in the loving persuasions of 
her husband seeks it in her prayers: she rises up hungry from 
the feast and hies her to the temple; there she pours out her 
tears and supplications. Whatsoever the complaint be, here is 
the remedy. There is one universal receipt for all evils, prayer : 
when all helps fail us, this remains ; and while we have an heart, 
comforts it. 

Here was not more bitterness in the soul of Hannah than fer- 
vency : she did not only weep and pray, but vow unto God. If 
God will give her a son, she will give her son to God back again. 
Even nature itself had consecrated her son to God ; for he could 
not but be born a Levite : but if his birth make him a Levite, her 
vow shall make him a Nazarite, and dedicate his minority to the 
tabernacle. Tne way to obtain any benefit is to devote it in our 
hearts to the glory t>{ that God of whom we ask it : by this means 
shall God both pleasure his servant and honour himself; whereas, 
if the scope of our desires be carnal, we may be sure either to fail 
of our suit or of a blessing. 

ELI AND nANNAIL— i Samuel i. 
Old Eli sits on a stool by one of the posts of the tabernacle : 
where should the priests of God be but in the temple, whether 

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cont. vi. Eli and Hannah. 318 

for action or oversight ? Their very presence keeps God's house 
in order, and the presence of God keeps their hearts in order. 

It is oft found that those which are themselves conscionable 
are too forward to the censuring of others : good Eli, because he 
marks the lips of Hannah to move without noise, chides her as 
drunken, and uncharitably misconstrues her devotion. It was a 
weak ground whereon to build so heavy a sentence. If she had 
spoken too loud and incomposedly he might have had some just 
colour' for this conceit ; but now to accuse her silence, notwith- 
standing all her tears which he saw, of drunkenness, it was a 
zealous breach of charity. 

Some spirit would have been enraged with so rash a censure : 
when anger meets with grief, both turn into fury ; but this good 
woman had been inured to reproaches, and besides, did well see 
the reproof arose from misprision, and the misprision from zeal ; 
and therefore answers meekly as one that had rather satisfy 
than expostulate ; Nay, my lard, but I am a woman troubled 
in spirit. 

Eli may now learn charity of Hannah : if she had been in that 
distemper whereof he accused her, his just reproof had not been 
so easily digested : guiltiness is commonly clamorous and impa- 
tient, whereas innocence is silent, and careless of misreports. It 
is natural to all men to wipe off from their name all aspersions of 
evil ; but none do it with such violence as they which are faulty. 
It is a sign the horse is galled that stirs too much when he is 

She that was censured for drunken, censures drunkenness more 
deeply than her reprover ; Count not thine handmaid for a 
daughter of Belial. The drunkard's style begins in lawlessness, 
proceeds in unprofitableness, ends in misery ; and all shut up in 
the denomination of this pedigree, A son of Belial. 

If Hannah had been tainted with this sin she would have denied 
it with more favour, and have disclaimed it with an extenuation ; 
" What if I should have been merry with wine ? yet I might be 
devout : if I should have overjoyed in my sacrifice to God, one 
cup of excess had not been so heinous :" now her freedom is seen 
in her severity. Those which have clear hearts from any sin 
prosecute it with rigour ; whereas the guilty are ever partial : 
their conscience holds their hand, and tells them that they beat 
themselves while they punish others. 

Now Eli sees his error and recants it ; and to make amends for 

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314 Eli and HannaJi. book xi. 

his rash censure prays for her. Even the best may err, but not ' 
persist in it : when good natures have offended they are unquiet 
till they have hastened satisfaction. This was within his office, to 
pray for. the distressed : wherefore serves the priest but to sacrifice 
for the people ? and the best sacrifices are the prayers of faith. 

She that began her prayers with fasting and heaviness, rises 
up from them with cheerfulness and repast. It cannot be spoken 
how much ease and joy the heart of man finds in having unloaded 
his cares and poured out his supplications into the ears of God ; 
since it is well assured, that the suit which is faithfully asked is 
already granted in heaven. The conscience may well rest when 
it tells us that we have neglected no means of redressing our af- 
fliction ; for then it may resolve to look either for amendment or 

Jhe sacrifice is ended, and now Elkanah and his family rise up 
early to return unto Ramah : but they dare not set forward till 
they have worshipped before the Lord. That journey cannot 
hope to prosper that takes not God with it The way to receive 
blessings at home is to be devout at the temple. 

She that before conceived faith in her heart, now conceives a 
son in her womb : God will rather work miracles, than faithful 
prayers shall return empty. I do not find that Peninnah asked 
any son of God, yet she had store ; Hannah begged hard for this 
one, and could not till now obtain him. They which are dearest 
to God do ofttimes with great difficulty work out those blessings 
which fall into the mouths of the careless. That wise Disposer 
of all things knows it fit to hold us short of those favours which 
we sue for ; whether for the trial of our patience or the exercise 
of our faith, or the increase of our importunity, or the doubling 
of our obligation. 

Those children are most like to prove blessings which the parents 
have begged of God, and which are no less the fruit of our sup- 
plications than of our body. As this child was the son of his 
mother's prayers, and was consecrated to God ere his possibility 
of being, so now himself shall know both how he came, and where- 
to he was ordained ; and lest he should forget it, his very name 
should teach him both ; She called his name Samuel. He can- 
not so much as hear himself named, but he must needs remember 
both the extraordinary mercy of God in giving him to a barren 
mother ; and the vow of his mother in restoring him back to God 
by her zealous dedication, and by both of them learn holiness and 

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cont. vi. Eli and Hannah. 315 

obedience. There is no necessity of significant names, but we can- 
not have too many monitors to put us in mind of our duty. 

It is wont to be the father's privilege to name his child ; but 
because this was his mother's son, begotten more by her prayers 
than the seed of Elkanah, it was but reason that she should have 
the chief hand both in his name and disposing. It had been indeed 
in the power of Elkanah to have changed both his name and pro- 
fession, and abrogate the vow of his wife; that wives might 
know they were not their own, and that the rib might learn to 
know the head : but husbands shall abuse their authority, if they 
shall wilfully cross the holy purposes and religious endeavours of 
their yokefellows. How much more fit is it for them to cherish 
all good desires in the weaker vessels ! and as we use, when we 
carry a small light in a wind, to hide it with our lap or hand, that 
it may not go out. If the wife be a vine, the husband should be 
an elm, to uphold her in all worthy enterprises, else she falls to 
the ground and proves fruitless. 

The year is now come about, and Elkanah calls his family to 
their holy journey to go up to Jerusalem for the anniversary so- 
lemnity of their sacrifice. Hannah's heart is with them, but she 
hath a good excuse to stay at home, the charge of her Samuel. 
Her success in the temple keeps her haply from the temple, 
that her devotion may be doubled because it was respited. God 
knows how to dispense with necessities, but if we suffer idle and 
needless occasions to hold us from the tabernacle of God, our 
hearts are but hollow to religion. 

Now at last, when the child was weaned from her hand, she 
goes up and pays her vow, and with it pays the interest of her 
intermission. Never did Hannah go up with so glad a heart to 
Shiloh as now that she carries God this reasonable present, which 
himself gave to her, and she vowed to him ; accompanied with the 
bounty of other sacrifices, more in number and measure than the 
law of God required of her ; and all this is too little for her God, 
that so mercifully remembered her affliction and miraculously re- 
medied it. Those hearts which are truly thankful do no less re- 
joice in their repayment than in their receipt ; and do as much study 
how to show their humble and fervent affections for what they 
have, as how to compass favours when they want them ; their 
debt is their burden, which when they have discharged they are 
at ease. 

If Hannah had repented of her vow, and not presented her son 

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316 Eli and Hannah. book xi. 

to the tabernacle, Eli could not have challenged him. He had 
only seen her lips stir, not hearing the promise of her heart It 
was enough that her own soul knew her vow, and God, which was 
greater than it. The obligation of a secret vow is no less than if 
it had ten thousand witnesses. 

Old Eli could not choose but much rejoice to see this fruit of 
those lips which he thought moved with wine, and this good 
proof both of the merciful audience of God and the thankful 
fidelity of his handmaid. This sight calls him down to his knees, 
he worshipped tlie Lord. We are unprofitable witnesses of the 
mercies of God and the graces of men, if we do not glorify him 
for others' 1 sakes no less than for our own. 

Eli and Hannah grew now better acquainted : neither had he 
so much cause to praise God for her as she afterwards for him ; 
for if her own prayers obtained her first child, his blessing enriched 
her with five more. If she had not given her first son to God ere 
she had him, I doubt whether she had not been ever barren ; or 
if she had kept her Samuel at home, whether ever she had con- 
ceived again : now that piety which stripped her of her only child 
for the service of her God, hath multiplied the fruit of her womb 
and gave her five for that one, which was still no less hers be- 
cause he was God's. There is no so certain way of increase as to 
lend or give unto the Owner of all things. 

ELI AND HIS SONS.— 1 Samuel ii, iii, iv. 

If the conveyance of grace were natural, holy parents would 
not be so ill suited with children. What good man would not 
rather wish his loins dry than fruitful of wickedness ? Now we 
can neither traduce goodness nor choose but traduce sin. If virtue 
were as well entailed upon us as sin, one might serve to check the 
other in our children ; but now, since grace is derived from heaven 
on whomsoever it pleases the Giver, and that evil which ours re- 
ceive hereditarily from us is multiplied by their own corruption, it 
can be no wonder that good men have ill children, it is rather a 
wonder that any children are not evil. 

The sons of Levi are as lewd as himself was holy. If the good- 
ness of examples, precepts, education, profession, could have been 
preservatives from extremity of sin, these sons of an holy father 
had not been wicked ; now neither parentage, nor breeding, nor 

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cont. vii. Eli and his sons. 317 

priesthood, can keep the sons of Eli from the sons of Belial. If 
our children be good, let us thank God for it ; this was more 
than we could give them ; if evil, they may thank us and them- 
selves ; us for their birth sin, themselves for the improvement of 
it to that height of wickedness. 

If they had not been sons of Eli, yet being priests of God, who 
would not have hoped their very calling should have infused some 
holiness into them ? But now even their white ephod covers foul 
sins : yea rather, if they which serve at the altar degenerate, their 
wickedness is so much more above others as their place is holier. 
A wicked priest is the worst creature upon earth. Who are devils 
but they whi^h were once angels of light ? Who can stumble at 
the sins of the evangelical Levites that sees such impurity even 
the ark of God ? 

That God which promised to be the Levites' portion had set 
forth the portion of his ministers. He will feast them at his own 
altar : the breast and the right shoulder of the peace offering was 
their morsel. These bold and covetous priests will rather have 
the fleshhook their arbiter than God; whatsoever those three 
teeth fasten upon shall be for their tooth. They were weary 
of one joint, and now their delicacy affects variety. God is not 
worthy to carve for these men, but their own hands; and this 
they do not receive but take, and take violently, unseasonably. It 
had been fit God should be first served : their presumption will 
not stay his leisure : ere the fat be burned, ere the flesh be boiled, 
they snatch more than their share from the altar ; as if the God 
of heaven should wait on their palate, as if the Israelites had come 
thither to sacrifice to their bellies : and as commonly a wanton 
tooth is the harbinger to luxurious wantonness, they are no sooner 
fed than they neigh after the dames of Israel. Holy women as- 
semble to the door of the tabernacle : these varlets tempt them to 
lust that came thither for devotion : they had wives of their own, 
yet their unbridled desires rove after strangers, and fear not to 
pollute even that holy place with abominable filthiness. 

sins, too shameful for men; much more for the spiritual 
guides of Israel ! He that makes himself a servant to his tooth 
shall easily become a slave to all inordinate affections. That 
altar which expiated other men's sins added to the sins of the sa- 
crificers ; doubtless many a soul was the cleaner for the blood of 
the sacrifices which they shed, while their own were more impure ; 
and as the altar cannot sanctify the priest, so the. unclean ness of 

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818 Eli and his sons. book xi. 

the minister cannot pollute the offering; because the virtue 
thereof is not in the agent, but in the institution : in the represent- 
ation, his sin is his own ; the comfort of the sacrament is from 
God. Our clergy is no charter for heaven. Even those whose 
trade is devotion may at once show the way to heaven by their 
tongue and by their foot lead the way to hell. It is neither a 
cowl nor an ephod that can privilege the soul. 

The sin of these men was worthy of contempt, yea perhaps 
their persons ; but for the people therefore to abhor the offerings of 
the Lord was to add their evil unto the priests', and to offend God 
because he was offended. There can no offence be justly taken 
even at men, much less at God, for the sake of men. No man's 
sins should bring the service of God into dislike : this is to make 
holy things guilty of our profaneness. It is a dangerous ignorance 
not to distinguish betwixt the work and the instrument : where- 
upon it oft comes to pass, that we fall out with God because we 
find cause of offence from men, and give God just cause to abhor 
us because we abhor his service unjustly. 

Although it be true, of great men especially, that they are the 
last that know the evils of their own house, yet either it could not 
be, when all Israel rung of the lewdness of Eli's sons, that he 
only should not know it; or if he knew it not, his ignorance 
cannot be excused; for a seasonable restraint might have pre- 
vented this extremity of debauchedness. Complaints are long 
muttered of the great ere they dare break forth to open contes- 
tation; public accusations of authority, argues intolerable extre- 
mities of evil. 

Nothing but age can plead for Eli that he was not the first 
accuser of his sons ; now, when their enormities came to be the 
voice of the multitude, he must hear it perforce ; and doubtless 
he heard it with grief enough, but not with anger enough. He 
that was the judge of Israel should have impartially judged his 
own flesh and blood : never could he have offered a more pleasing 
sacrifice than the depraved blood of so wicked sons. In vain do 
we rebuke those sins abroad which we tolerate at home. That 
man makes himself but ridiculous, that, leaving his own house on 
fire, runs to quench his neighbour's. 

I heard Eli sharp enough to Hannah upon but a suspicion of 
sin ; and now, how mild I find him to the notorious crimes of his 
own ! Why do you so> my sons ? It is no good report ; my sons, 
do no more so : the case is altered with the persons. If nature 

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cont. vii. Eli and his sons. 319 

may be allowed to speak in judgment, and to make difference, 
not of sins but offenders, the sentence must needs savour of par- 
tiality. Had these men but some little slackened their duty, or 
heedlessly omitted some rite of the sacrifice, this censure had not 
been unfit ; but to punish the thefts, rapines, sacrileges, adulteries, 
incests of his sons, with Why do ye so f was no other than to 
shave that head which had deserved cutting off. As it is with ill 
humours, that a weak dose doth but stir and anger them, not 
purge them out ; so it fareth with sins : an easy reproof doth but 
encourage wickedness, and makes it think itself so slight as that 
censure importeth. A vehement rebuke to a capital evil is but like 
a strong shower to a ripe field, which lays that corn which were 
worthy of a sickle. It is a breach of justice not to proportionate 
the punishment to the offence : to whip a man for a murder, or to 
punish the purse for incest, or to burn treason in the hand, or to 
award the stocks to burglary, it is to patronise evil instead of 
avenging it: of the two extremes, rigour is more safe for the 
public weal ; because the over-punishing of one offender frights 
many from sinning. It is better to live in a commonwealth where 
nothing is lawful, than where every thing. 

Indulgent parents are cruel to themselves and their posterity. 
Eli could not have devised which way to have plagued himself 
and his house so much, as by his kindness to his children's sins. 
What variety of judgments doth he now hear of from the messen- 
ger of God ! First, because his old age, (which uses to be subject 
to choler,) inclined now to misfavour his sons, therefore there shall 
not be an old man left of his house for ever ; and because it vexed 
him not enough to see his sons enemies to God in their profession, 
therefore he shall see his enemy in the habitation of the Lord ; 
and because himself forbore to take vengeance of his sons, and 
esteemed their life above the glory of his Master, therefore God 
will revenge himself, by killing them both in one day; and 
because he abused his sovereignty by connivance at sin, therefore 
shall his house be stripped of this honour, and see it translated to 
another ; and lastly, because he suffered his sons to please their 
own wanton appetite, in taking meat off from God's trencher, 
therefore those which remain of his house shall come to his suc- 
cessors to beg a piece of silver and a morsel of bread : in a word, 
because he was partial to his sons, God shall execute all this 
severely upon him and them. I do not read of any fault Eli had 
but indulgence : and which of the notorious offenders were plagued 

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320 Eli and his soils. book xi 

more? Parents need no other means to make them miserable 
than sparing the rod. 

Who should be the bearer of these fearful tidings to Eli but 
young Samuel, whom himself had trained up ? He was now grown 
past his mother's coats; fit for the message of God. Old Eli 
rebuked not his young sons, therefore young Samuel is sent to 
rebuke him. I marvel not, while the priesthood was so corrupted, 
if the word of God were precious, if there were no public vision. 
It is not the manner of God to grace the unworthy. The ordi- 
nary ministration in the temple was too much honour for those 
that robbed the altar, though they had no extraordinary revela- 
tions. Hereupon it was that God lets old Eli sleep (who slept in 
his sin), and awakes Samuel to tell him what he would do with 
his master. He which was wont to be the mouth of God to the 
people must now receive the message of God from the mouth of 
another : as great persons will not speak to those with whom they 
are highly offended, but send them their checks by others. 

The lights of the temple were now dim, and almost ready to 
give place to the morning, when God called Samuel, to signify 
perhaps that those which should have been the lights of Israel 
burned no less dimly, and were near their going out, and should 
be succeeded with one so much more lightsome than they as the 
sun was more bright than the lamps. 

God had good leisure to have delivered this message by day ; 
but he meant to make use of Samuel's mistaking; and therefore 
so speaks that Eli may be asked for an answer, and perceive him- 
self both omitted and censured. He that meant to use Samuel's 
voice to Eli imitates the voice of Eli to Samuel. Samuel had so 
accustomed himself to obedience, and to answer the call of Eli, 
that, lying in the further cells of the Levites, he is easily raised 
from his sleep ; and even in the night runs for his message to 
him who was rather to receive it from him. Thrice is the old 
man disquieted with the diligence of his servant; and though 
visions were rare in his days, yet is he not so unacquainted with 
God as not to attribute that voice to him which himself heard 
not: wherefore, like a better tutor than a parent, he teaches 
Samuel what he shall answer ; Speak, Lord, for thy servant 

It might have pleased God at the first call to have delivered 
his message to Samuel, not expecting the answer of a novice un- 
seen in the visions of a God ; yet doth he rather defer it till the 

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cont. vii. Eli and his sons. 821 

fourth summons, and will not speak till Samuel confessed his 
audience. God loves ever to prepare his servants for his employ- 
ments ; and will not commit his errands but to those whom he 
hath addressed both by wonder and attention and humility. 

Eli knew well the gracious fashion of God, that where he 
tended a favour, prorogation could be no hinderance ; and there- 
fore, after the call of God thrice answered with silence, he in- 
structs Samuel to be ready for the fourth. If Samuel's silence 
had been wilful, I doubt whether he had been again solicited 5 
now God doth both pity his error and requite his diligence by 
redoubling his name at the last. 

Samuel had now many years ministered before the Lord, but 
never till now heard his voice, and now hears it with much terror ; 
for the first word that he hears God speak is threatening, and 
that of vengeance to his master. What were these menaces but 
so many premonitions to himself that should succeed Eli? God 
begins early to season their hearts with fear whom he means to 
make eminent instruments of his glory. It is his mercy to make 
us witnesses of the judgments of others, that we may be fore- 
warned ere we have the occasions of sinning. 

I do not hear God bid Samuel deliver his message to Eli. He 
that was but now made a prophet knows that the errands of God 
intend not silence, and that God would not have spoken to him 
of another if he had meant the news should be reserved to him- 
self. Neither yet did he run with open mouth unto Eli to tell 
him this vision unasked : no wise man will be hasty to bring ill 
tidings to the great ; rather doth he stay till the importunity of 
his master should wring it from his unwillingness ; and then, as 
his concealment showed his love, so his full relation shall approve 
his fidelity. 

If the heart of Eli had not told him this news before God told 
it Samuel, he had never been so instant with Samuel not to con- 
ceal it; his conscience did well presage that it concerned himself: 
guiltiness needs no prophet to assure it of punishment. The mind 
that is troubled projecteth terrible things ; and though it cannot 
single out the judgment allotted to it, yet it is in a confused ex- 
pectation of some grievous evil. Surely Eli could not think it 
worse than it was. 

The sentence was fearful ; and such as I wonder the neck or 
the heart of old Eli could hold out the report of; that God 
6 wears he will judge Eli's house, and that with beggary, with 


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322 Eli and his sons. book xi. 

death, with desolation, and that the wickedness of his house shall 
not be purged with sacrifice or offerings for ever : and yet this, 
which every Israelite's ear should tingle to hear of when it should 
be done, old Eli hears with an unmoved patience and humble sub- 
mission : It is the Lord ; let him do what seemeth him good* 

O admirable faith, and more than human constancy and reso- 
lution ; worthy of the aged president of Shiloh ; worthy of a 
heart sacrificed to that God whose justice had refused to expiate 
his sin by sacrifice ! If Eli had been an ill father to his sons, yet 
he is a good son to God, and is ready to kiss the very rod he 
shall smart withal. " It is the Lord, whom I have ever found 
holy and just and gracious ; and he cannot but be himself. Let 
liim do what seemeth him good ; for whatever seemeth good to 
him cannot but be good, howsoever it seems to me." Every man 
can open his hand to God while he blesses; but to expose our- 
selves willingly to the afflicting hand of our Maker, and to kneel 
to him while he scourges us, is peculiar only to the faithful. 

If ever a good heart could have freed a man from temporal 
punishments, Eli must needs have escaped. God's anger was 
appeased by his humble repentance, but his justice must be satis- 
fied : Eli's sin and his sons' was in the eye and mouth of all 
Israel ; his therefore should have been much wrongect by their 
impunity. Who would not have made these spiritual guides an 
example of lawlessness, and have said, " What care I how I live, 
if ElTs sons go away unpunished ?" 

As not the tears of Eli, so not the words of Samuel, may fall 
to the ground. We may not measure the displeasure of God by 
his stripes : many times, after the remission of the sin, the very 
chastisements of the Almighty are deadly. No repentance can 
assure us that we shall not smart with outward afflictions : that can 
prevent the eternal displeasure of God, but still it may be neces- 
sary and good we should be corrected. Our care and suit must be, 
that the evils which shall not be averted may be sanctified. 

If the prediction of these evils were fearful, what shall the exe- 
cution be ? The presumption of the ill-taught Israelites shall give 
occasion to this judgment ; for being smitten before the Philis- 
tines, they send for the ark into the field. Who gave them 
authority to command the ark of God at their pleasure ? Here 
was no consulting with the ark which they would fetch ; no in- 
quiry of Samuel whether they should fetch it; but a heady reso- 
lution of presumptuous elders to force God into the field, and to 

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coxTr vu. Eli and his sons. 328 

challenge success. If God were not with the ark, why did they 
send for it, and rejoice in the coming of it ? If God were with it, 
why was not his allowance asked that it should come ? How can 
the people be good where the priests are wicked ? 

When the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts that dwells 
between the cherubims was brought into the host, though with 
mean and wicked attendance, Israel doth, as it were, fill the 
heaven and shake the earth with shouts ; as if the ark and vic- 
tory were no less inseparable than they and their sins. Even 
the lewdest men will be looking for favour from that God whom 
they carad not to displease, contrary to the conscience of their 
deservings. Presumption doth the same in wicked men which 
faith doth in the holiest. Those that regarded not the God of 
the ark, think themselves safe and happy in the ark of God: 
rain men are transported with a confidence in the outside of reli- 
gion, not regarding the substance and soul of it, which only can 
give them true peace. 

But rather than God will humour superstition in Israelites, he 
will suffer his own ark to fall into the hands of Philistines : rather 
will he seem to slacken his hand of protection, than he will be 
thought to hare his hands bound by a formal misconfidence. The 
slaughter of the Israelites was no plague to this. It was a greater 
plague rather to them that should survive and behold it. 

The two sons of Eli, which had helped to corrupt their bre- 
thren, die by the hands of the uncircumcised ; and are now too 
late separated from the ark of God by Philistines, which should 
have been before separated by their father. They had lived for- 
merly to bring God's altar into contempt, and now live to carry 
his ark into captivity ; and at last, as those that had made up the 
measure of their wickedness, are slain in their sin. 

Ill news doth ever either run or fly. The man of Benjamin which 
ran from the host hath soon filled the city with outcries, and Eli's 
ears with the cry of the city. The good old man, after ninety 
and eight years, sits in the gate, as one that never thought him- 
self too aged to do God service ; and hears the news of Israel's 
discomfiture and his sons' death, though with sorrow, yet with 
patience ; but when the messenger tells him of the ark of God 
taken, he can live no longer : that word strikes him down back- 
ward from his throne, and kills him in the fall : no sword of a 
Philistine could have slain him more painfully ; neither know I 
whether his neck or his heart were first broken. 

Y 2 

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82'h Eli and his sons. book xi. 

O fearful judgment, that ever any Israelite's ear could tingle 
withal I The ark lost ! What good man would wish to live with- 
out God? Who can choose but think he hath lived too long 
that hath overlived the testimonies of God's presence with his 

Tea, the very daughter-in-law of Eh, a woman, the wife of a 
lewd husband; when she was at once travailing (upon that tid- 
ings), and in that travail dying (to make up the full sum of God's 
judgment upon that wicked house), as one insensible of the death 
of her father, of her husband, of herself, in comparison of this 
loss, calls her (then unseasonable) son Ichabod ; and with her last 
breath says, Tlie glory is departedfrom Israel; the ark is taken. 
What cares she for a posterity which should want the ark ? What 
cares she for a son come into, the world of Israel when God was 
gone from it? And how willingly doth she depart from them 
from whom God was departed ? Not outward magnificence, not 
state, not wealth, not favour of the mighty, but the presence of 
God in his ordinances, are the glory of Israel ; the subducing 
whereof is a greater judgment than destruction. 

Israel, worse now than no people! a thousand times more 
miserable than Philistines : those pagans went away triumphing 
with the ark of God, and victory; and leave the remnants of the 
chosen people to lament that they once had a God* 

cruel and wicked indulgence, that is now found guilty of 
the death, not only of the priests and people, but of religion I 
Unjust mercy can never end in less than blood; and it were 
well if only the body should have cause to complain of that kind 

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Right Honourable, — Upon how just reason these my contemplations go 
forth bo late after their fellows, it were needless to give account to your lord- 
ship, in whose train I had the honour since my last to pass both the sea and 
the Tweed b . All my private studies have gladly vailed to the public services 
of my sovereign Master. No sooner could I recover the happiness of my quiet 
thoughts, than I renewed this my divine task ; wherein I cannot but profess 
to place so much contentment as that I wish not any other measure of my life 
than it. What is this, other than the exaltation of Isaac's delight to walk 
forth into the pleasant fields of the Scriptures, and to meditate of nothing un- 
der heaven ? Yea, what other than Jacob's sweet vision of angels climbing up 
and down that sacred ladder which God hath set between heaven and earth ? 
Yea, to rise yet higher, what other than an imitation of holy Moses in his con- 
versing with God himself on the Horeb of both Testaments ? And if I may 
call your lordship forth a little from your great affairs of court and state, to 
bless your eyes with this prospect, how happy shall you confess this change 
of objects ! and how unwillingly shall you obtain leave of your thoughts to 
return unto these sublunary employments ! 

Our last discourse left God's ark among the Philistines, now we return to 
see what it doth there, and to fetch it thence : wherein your lordship shall find 

» [Sir James Hay, created 1615 baron of Sawley or Saley, afterwards viscount 
Doncaster, and still later earl of Carlisle.] 

b [The bishop attended him in his embassy to Paris, and accompanied him in 
attendance upon the king on his journey into Scotland, 16 16.] 

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326 The ark and Dagon. book xii. 

the revenges of God never bo deadly as when he gives most way unto men; 
the vain confidence of wickedness ending in a late repentance; the fearful 
plagues of a presumptuous sauciness with God not prevented with the honesty 
of good intentions ; the mercy of God accepting the services of an humble 
faithfulness in a meaner dress. From thence you shall see the dangerous issue 
of an affected innovation, although to the better; the errors of credulity and 
blind affection in the holiest governors guilty of the people's discontentment ; 
the stubborn headiness of a multitude that once finds the reins slack in their 
necks, not capable of any pause but their own fall ; the untrusty promises of a 
fair outside, and a plausible entrance, shutting up in a woful disappointment. 
What do I forestall a discourse so full of choice ? Your lordship shall find 
every line useful, and shall willingly confess that the story of God can make 
a man not less wise than good. 

Mine humble thankfulness knows not how to express itself otherwise than 
in these kind of presents, and in my hearty prayers for the increase of your 
honour and happiness, which shall never be wanting from 

Your Lordship's sincerely and thankfully devoted, 


THE ARK AND DAGON— i Samuel v. 

If men did not mistake God, they could not arise to such height 
of impiety. The acts of his just judgment are imputed to impo- 
tence : that God would send his ark captive to the Philistines is 
so construed by them as if he could not keep it The wife of 
Phineas cried out that glory was departed from Israel. The Phi- 
listines dare say in triumph, that glory is departed from the God 
of Israel. 

The ark was not Israel's but God's : this victory reaches higher 
than to men. Dagon had never so great a day, so many sacrifices 
as now that he seems to take the God of Israel prisoner : where 
should the captive be bestowed but in custody of the victor ? It is 
not love but insultation that lodges the ark close beside Dagon. 
What a spectacle was this, to see uncircumcised Philistines laying 
their profane hands upon the testimony of God's presence ! to see 
the glorious mercy-seat under the roof of an idol I to see the two 
cherubims spreading their wings under a false god ! 

O the deep and holy wisdom of the Almighty, which overreaches 
all the finite conceits of his creatures ; who while he seems most 
to neglect himself fetches about most glory to his own name. He 
winks and sits still on purpose to see what men would do, and is 
content to suffer indignity from his creature for a time, that he may 

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cont. i. The ark and Dagon. 827 

be everlastingly magnified in his justice and power : that honour 
pleaseth God and men best which is raised out of contempt. 

The ark of God was not used to such porters. The Philistines 
carry it unto Ashdod, that the victory of Dagon may be more glo- 
rious. What pains superstition puts men unto for the triumph of 
a false cause ! And if profane Philistines can think it no toil to 
carry the ark where they should not, what a shame is it for us if 
we do not gladly attend it where we should ! How justly may 
God's truth scorn the imparity of our zeal ! 

If the Israelites did put confidence in the ark, can we marvel 
that the Philistines did put confidence in that power which, aa 
they thought, had conquered the ark ? The less is ever subject 
unto the greater : what could they now think, but that heaven 
and earth were theirs ? Who shall stand out against them, when the 
God of Israel hath yielded ? Security and presumption attend 
ever at the threshold of ruin. 

God will let them sleep in this confidence; in the morning 
they shall find how vainly they have dreamed. Now they begin 
to find they have but gloried in their own plague, and overthrown 
nothing but their own peace. Dagon hath a house, when God 
hath but a tabernacle : it is no measuring of religion by outward 
glory. Into this house the proud Philistines come the next 
morning to congratulate unto their god so great a captive, such 
divine spoils; and in their early devotions to fall down before 
him under whom the God of Israel was fallen; and lo, where 
they find their god fallen down on the ground upon his face 
before him whom they thought both his prisoner and theirs: 
their god is forced to do that which they should have done volun- 
tarily ; although God cast down that dumb rival of his for scorn, 
not for adoration. O ye foolish Philistines, could ye think that 
the same house could hold God and Dagon? Could ye think a 
senseless stone a fit companion and guardian for the living God ? 
Had ye laid your Dagon upon his face prostrate before the ark, 
yet would not God have endured the indignity of such a lodging ; 
but now that ye presume to set up your carved stone equal to 
his cherubims, go read your folly in the floor of your temple, and 
know that he which cast your god so low can cast you lower. 

The true God owes a shame to those which will be making 
matches betwixt himself and Belial. 

But this perhaps was only a mischance, or a neglect of attend- 
ance ; lay to your hands, O ye Philistines, and raise up Dagon 

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328 The ark and Dagon. book xii, 

into his place. It is a miserable God that needs helping up; 
had ye not been more senseless than that stone, how could you 
choose but think, "How shall he raise us above our enemies, 
that cannot rise alone ? How shall he establish us in the station 
of our peace, that cannot hold his own foot ? If Dagon did give 
the foil unto the God of Israel, what power is it that hath cast 
him upon his face in his own temple ?" It is just with God, that 
those which want grace shall want wit too : it is the power of 
superstition to turn men into those stocks and stones which they 
worship : They that make them are like unto them. 

Doubtless, this first fall of Dagon was kept as secret, and ex- 
cused as well as it might, and served rather for astonishment than 
conviction. There was more strangeness than horror in that 
accident ; that whereas Dagon had wont to stand and the Philis- 
tines fall down, now Dagon fell down and the Philistines stood, 
and must become the patrons of their own god. Their god 
worships them upon his face, and craves more help from them 
than ever he could give : but if their sottishness can digest this, 
all is well. 

Dagon is set in his place ; and now those hands are lift up to 
him which helped to lift him up ; and those faces are prostrate 
unto him before whom he lay prostrate. Idolatry and supersti- 
tion are not easily put out of countenance ; but will the jealousy 
of the true God put it up thus ? Shall Dagon escape with an harm- 
less fall i Surely, if they had let him lie still upon the pavement, 
perhaps that insensible statue had found no other revenge; but 
now they will be advancing it to the rood-loft again, and affront 
God's ark with it, the event will shame them, and let them know 
how much God scorns a partner either of his own making or 
theirs. 4 * 

The morning is fittest for devotion; then do the Philistines 
flock to the temple of their god. What a shame is it for us to 
come late to ours ! Although not so much piety as curiosity did 
now hasten their speed to see what rest their Dagon was allowed 
to get in his own roof: and now, behold, their kind god is come to 
meet them in the way : some pieces of him salute their eyes upon 
the threshold. Dagon's head and hands are overrun their fellows, 
to tell the Philistines how much they were mistaken in their god. 

This second fall breaks the idol in pieces, and threats the same 
confusion to the worshippers of it. Easy warnings neglected end 
ever in destruction. 

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cont. i. The ark and Dagon. 829 

The head is for devising, the hand for execution : in these two 
powers of their god did the Philistines chiefly trust ; these are 
therefore laid under their feet, upon the threshold, that they 
might afar off see their vanity, and that, if they would, they 
might set their foot on that best piece of their god whereon their 
heart was set. 

There was nothing wherein that idol resembled a man but in 
his head and hands ; the rest was but a scaly portraiture of a 
fish; God would therefore separate from this stone that part 
which had mocked man with the counterfeit of himself, that man 
might see what an unworthy lump he had matched with himself, 
and set up above himself. The just quarrel of God is bent upon 
those means and that parcel which have dared to rob him of his 

How can the Philistines now miss the sight of their own folly ? 
How can they be but enough convicted of their mad idolatry, to 
see their god lie broken to morsels under their feet ; every piece 
whereof proclaims the power of him that brake it, and the stu- 
pidity of those that adored it ? Who would expect any other issue 
of this act, but to hear the Philistines say, " We now see how 
superstition hath blinded us : Dagon is no god for us : our hearts 
shall never more rest upon a broken statue : that only true God, 
which hath beaten ours, shall challenge us by the right of con- 
quest." — But here was none of this ; rather a further degree of 
their dotage follows upon this palpable conviction : they cannot 
yet suspect that god whose head they may trample upon ; but 
instead of hating their Dagon, that lay broken upon their thresh- 
old, they honour the threshold on which Dagon lay, and dare not 
set their foot on that place which was hallowed by the broken 
head and hands of their deity. the obstinacy of idolatry; 
which, where it hath got hold of the heart, knows neither to 
blush nor yield, but rather gathers strength from that which 
might justly confound it ! 

The hand of the Almighty, which moved them not in falling 
upon their god, falls now nearer them upon their persons, and 
strikes them in their bodies, which would not feel themselves 
stricken in their idol. Pain shall humble them whom shame can. 
not. Those which had entertained the secret thoughts of abo- 
minable idolatry within them are now plagued in the inwardest 
• and most secret part of their bodies with a loathsome disease, and 
now grow weary of themselves instead of their idolatry. 

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330 The ark and Dagon. book xii. 

I do not hear them acknowledge it was God's hand which had 
stricken Dagon their god, till now they find themselves stricken. 
God's judgments are the rack of godless men : if one strain make 
them not confess, let them be stretched but one wrench higher, 
and they cannot be silent. The just avenger of sin will not lose 
the glory of his executions, but will have men know from whom 
they smart. 

The emerods were not a disease beyond the compass of natural 
causes ; neither was it hard for the wiser sort to give a reason of 
their complaint ; yet they ascribe it to the hand of God. The 
knowledge and operation of secondary causes should be no pre- 
judice to the first : they are worse than the Philistines, who, when 
they see the means, do not acknowledge the first Mover ; whose 
active and just power is no less seen in employing ordinary agents 
than in raising up extraordinary ; neither doth he less smite by a 
common fever than a revenging angel. 

They judge right of the cause ; what do they resolve for the 
cure ? Let not the ark of the God of Israel abide with us ; 
where they should have said, " Let us cast out Dagon, that we 
may pacify and retain the God of Israel/ 1 They determine to 
thrust out the ark of God, that they might peaceably enjoy them- 
selves and Dagon. Wicked men are upon all occasions glad to be 
rid of God, but they can with no patience endure to part with 
their sins ; and while they are weary of the hand that punisheth 
them, they hold fast the cause of their punishment. 

Their first and only care is to put away him, who, as he hath 
corrected, so can ease them. Folly is never separated from 

Their heart told them that they had no right to the ark. A 
council is called of their princes and priests. If they had resolved 
to send it home, they had done wisely ; now they do not carry it 
away, but they carry it about from Ebenezer to Ashdod, from 
Ashdod to Gath, from Gath to Ekron. Their stomach was greater 
than their conscience. The ark was too sore for them, yet it 
was too good for Israel ; and they will rather die than make Israel 

Their conceit, that the change of air could appease the ark, 
God useth to his own advantage ; for by this means his power is 
known, and his judgment spread over all the country of the Phi- 
listines. What do these men now, but send the plague of God to 
their fellows ? The justice of God can make the sins of men their 

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cont. ii. The ark's revenge and return. 331 

mutual executioners. It is the fashion of wicked men to draw their 
neighbours into the partnership of their condemnation. 

Wheresoever the ark goes, there is destruction. The best of 
God's ordinances, if they be not proper to us, are deadly. The 
Israelites did not more shout for joy when they saw the ark come 
to them, than the Ekronites cry out for grief to see it brought 
amongst them : spiritual things are either sovereign or hurtful, 
according to the disposition of the receivers. The ark doth either 
save or kill, as it is entertained. 

At last, when the Philistines are well weary of pain and death, 
they are glad to be quit of their sin : the voice of the princes and 
people is changed to the better : Send away the ark of the God 
of Israel, and let it return to his own place. God knows how to 
bring the stubbornest enemy upon his knees ; and makes him do 
that out of fear which his best child would do out of love and 

How miserable was. the estate of these Philistines ! Every man 
was either dead or sick : those that were left living, through their 
extremity of pain, envied the dead ; and the cry of their whole 
cities went up to heaven. It is happy that God hath such store 
of plagues and thunderbolts for the wicked : if he had not a fire 
of judgment, wherewith the iron hearts of men might be made 
flexible, he would want obedience, and the world peace. 


It had wont to be a sure rule, " Wheresoever God is among 
men, there is the Church :" here only it failed. The testimony 
of God's presence was many months amongst the Philistines ; for 
a punishment to his own people whom he left ; for a curse to 
those foreigners which entertained it. 

Israel was seven months without God. How do we think faith- 
ful Samuel took this absence ? How desolate and forlorn did the 
tabernacle of God look without the ark I There were still the 
altars of God ; his priests, Levites, tables, veils, censers, with all 
their legal accoutrements. These without the ark were as the sun 
without light in the midst of an eclipse. If all these had been 
taken away, and only the ark had been remaining, the loss had 
been nothing to this, that the ark should be gone and they left ; 
for what are all these without God, and how all-sufficient is God 
without these ! 

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882 The ark's revenge and return. book xii. 

There are times wherein God withdraws himself from his Church, 
and seems to leave her without comfort, without protection. Some- 
times we shall find Israel taken from the ark ; otherwhiles the 
ark is taken from Israel : in either there is a separation betwixt 
the ark and Israel : heavy times to every true Israelite ! yet such 
as whose example may relieve us in our desertions. 

Still was this people Israel : the seed of him that would not be 
left of God without a blessing ; and therefore without the testi- 
mony of his presence was God present with them : it were wide 
with the faithful if God were not oftentimes with them when there 
is no witness of his presence. 

One act was a mutual penance to the Israelites and Philistines ; 
I know not to whether more. Israel grieved for the loss of that 
whose presence grieved the Philistines ; their pain was therefore 
no other than voluntary. 

It is strange that the Philistines would endure seven months' 
smart with the ark, since they saw that the presence of the pri- 
soner would not requite, no nor mitigate to them, one hour's misery: 
foolish men will be struggling with God till they be utterly either 
breathless or impotent. Their hope was, that time might abate 
displeasure, even while they persisted to offend : the false hopes 
of worldly men cost them dear ; they could not be so miserable if 
their own hearts did not deceive them with misexpectations of im- 
possible favour. 

In matters that concern a God, who is so fit to be consulted 
with as the priests ? The princes of the Philistines had before 
given their voices; yet nothing is determined, nothing is done, 
without the direction and assent of those whom they accounted 
sacred. Nature itself sends us, in divine things, to those persons 
whose calling is divine. It is either distrust, or presumption, or 
contempt, that carries us our own ways in spiritual matters, with- 
out advising with them whose lips God hath appointed to preserve 
knowledge. There cannot but arise many difficulties in us about 
the ark of God : whom should we consult with but those which