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and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint;' Isa. xl. 28–31.
2. To convince the unbelieving world itself of his power, providence, and love to them that put their trust in him, that they may be found to cry, ' Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily he is a God who ruleth in the earth ;' Psal. Iviii. 11. When the Egyptian magicians see real mi. racles, beyond all their juggling pretences, they cry out, • This is the finger of God;' Exod. viii. 19. Profane Nebuchadnezzar beholding the deliverance of those three worthies from the fiery furnace, he owns them for the servants of the most high God;' Dan. iii. 26. Daniel being preserved in the lion's den, Darius acknowledgeth the power and kingdom of the living God;' Dan. vi. 26. Glorious appearances of God for his people, beyond the reach of reason, wrests from the world amazement, or acknowledgment, and in both God is exalted. He will appear in such distresses, as that he will be seen of his very enemies; they shall not be able with the Philistines to question, whether it be his hand, or a chance happened to them, 1 Sam. vi. 9. but conclude with the Egyptians, that fly they must, for God fights for his people; Exod. xiv. 25. If God should never give blessings but in such a way, as reason might discover their dependance on secondary causes, men would not see his goings, nor acknowledge his operations. But when he mightily makes bare his arm, in events beyond their imaginations, they must veil before him.
Use 1. Consider whether the mercy celebrated this day ought not to be placed in this series of deliverances, brought from beyond the ken of sense and reason, from above the reach of much precious faith. For the latter I leave it to your own experience, to the former let me for the present desire your consideration of these five things.
(1.) By whom you were surprised and put under restraint. Now these were of two sorts : [1.] The heads and leaders; [2.] The tumultuous multitude.
[1.] For the first, some of them being dead, and some under durance, I shall not say anything. Nullum cum victis certamen, et æthere cassis. I leave the stream from the Aint to your own thoughts.
[2.] For the multitude, an enraged, headless, lawless, godless multitude, gathered out of inns, taverns, alehouses, stables, highways, and the like nurseries of piety and pity. Such as these having got their superiors under their power, governors under their disposal, their restrainers under their restraint, their oppressors, as they thought, under their fury, what was it that kept in their fury, and their revenge, which upon the like occasions and advantages hath almost always been executed ? Search your stories, you will not find many that speak of such a deliverance. For a few governors prevailed on, unto durance, by a godless rout, in an insurrection, and yet come off in peace and safety, is surely a work of more than ordinary providence.
(2.) Consider the season of your surprisal; when all the kingdom was in an uproar, and the arm of flesh almost quite withered as to supply, the north invaded, the south full of insurrections, Wales unsubdued," the great city, at least suffering men to lift up their hands against us; so that to the eye of reason, the issue of the whole was, if not lost, yet exceedingly hazardous, and so your captivity endless. Had they gone on, as was probable they would, whether you had this day been brought out to execution, or thrust into a dungeon, or carried up and down as a pageant, I know not; but much better condition, I am sure, rationally you could not expect.
(3.) The end of your surprisal. Amongst others, this was apparently one, to be a reserve for their safety, who went on in all ways of ruin. You were kept to preserve them in those ways, wherein they perished. Whether could reason reach this, or no, that you being in their power, kept on purpose for their rescue, if brought to any great strait, with the price of your heads to redeem their own, that they should he brought to greater distress than ever any before in this kingdom, and you be delivered, without the least help to them in their need ? It was beyond your friends' reason, who could not hope it; it was beyond our enemies' reason, who never feared it; if you believed it, you have the comfort of it.
(4.) The refusal of granting an exchange for such persons, as they accounted more considerable than yourselves, and whose enlargement might have advantaged the cause they professed to maintain exceedingly more than your restraint, what doth it but proclaim your intended ruin? This was the way of deliverance, which for a long season reason chiefly rested on, the main pillar of all its building; which when it was cut in two, what could be seen in it but desolation?
* Idem huic urbi dominandi finis erit, qui parendi fuerit. Senec. de Rom.
(5.) The straits you were at length reduced to, between your enemies' swords and your friends' bullets, which intended for your deliverance, without the safeguard of providence, might have been your ruin, piercing more than once the house wherein you were. Surely it was then an eminent work of faith to stand still, and see the salvation of God.' The
many passages of providence evidently working for your preservation, which I have received from some of yourselves, I willingly pass over. What I have already said is sufficient to declare that to reason's eye, you were as dead bones upon the earth. For our parts, who were endangered spectators at the best, we were but in the prophet's frame, and to any question about your enlargement, could answer only, The Lord alone knows. And now, behold, the Lord hath chosen you out to be examples of his loving-kindness, in fetching mercy for you from beyond the ken of reason, yea, from above the reach of much precious faith. He hath broaght water for you out of the flint. Reckon
deliverance under this head of operations, and I hope you will not be unthankful.
Use 2. You that have received so great mercy, we that have seen it, and all who have heard the doctrine confirmed, let us learn to live by faith. Live above all things that are seen; subject them to the cross of Christ. Measure your condition by your interest in God's all-sufficiency. Do not in distress calculate, what such and such things can effect; but what God hath promised. Reckon upon that, for it shall come to pass. If you could get but this one thing by all your sufferings and dangers, to trust the Lord to the utmost extent of his promises, it would prove a blessed captivity. All carnal fears would then be conquered, all sinful compliances with wicked men removed, &c.
Use 3. Be exhorted to great thankfulness,' you that have » Erunt homicidæ, tyranni, fures, adulteri, raptores, sacrilegi, proditores, infra ista omnia, ingratus est. Senec. Benef. lib. 1. Gratiarum cessat decursus, ubi recursus, non fuerit. Bern. Serm. 50.
been made partakers of great deliverances. In great distresses very nature prompts the sons of men to great promises. You have heard the ridiculous story of him, who in a storm at sea promised to dedicate a wax candle to the blessed Virgin, as big as the mast of his ship, which he was resolved when he came on shore to pay with one of twelve in the pound. Let not the moral of that fable be found in any of you. Come not short of any of your engagements. No greater discovery of a hypocritical frame, than to flatter the Lord in trouble, and to decline upon deliverance in cold blood. The Lord of heaven give you strength to make good all your resolutions: as private persons, in all godliness and honesty, following hard after God in every known way of his; as magistrates, in justice, equity, and faithful serving the kingdom of Christ. Especially let them never beg in vain for help at your hands, who did not beg help in vain. for you at the hands of God.
Use 4. Consider, if there be so much sweetness in a temporal deliverance, oh, what excellency is there in that eternal redemption, which we have in the blood of Jesus! If we rejoice for being delivered from them who could have killed the body, what unspeakable rejoicing is there in that mercy whereby we are freed from the wrath to come! Let this possess your thoughts, let this fill your souls, let this be your haven from all former storms. And here strike I sail, in this to abide with you, and all the saints of God for ever.
? Si tanti vitrum quanti Margaritum ? Tertul.