Page images
PDF
EPUB

l%fct in. Then specially it is time to cry, and to cry again, as David did, Cast me not awayfrom tby face, st«</Wa'•iiieie not away tby holy Spirit from me. Lord, turn not away tby face from mr, caft not tby servant away in displeasure. Hide not tby face from me, left 1 he like unto them that go down to hell. The which lamentable prayers of him, as they do certify us what horrible danger they be in, from whom God turneth his face (for the time, and as long as he so doth :) so mould they move and stir us to cry upon God with all our heart, that we may not be brought into that state, which doubtless is so sorrowful, so miserable, and so dreadful, as no tongue can sussiciently express, nor any heart can think. For what deadly grief may a man fuppose it is to be under the wrath of God, to be forfaken of him, to have his holy Spirit, the author of all goodness, to be taken from him, to be brought to so vile a condition, that he shall be left meet for no better purpose, than to be for ever condemned in hell? For not only such places of David do shew, that upon the turning of God's face from any persons, they shall be left bare from all goodness, and far from hope of remedy; but also the place rehearsed last before, or Ifaiah, doth mean the fame, which sheweth that God at length doth so forfake his unfruitful vineyard, that he will not only fufser it to bring forth weeds, briers, and thorns, but also further to punish the unfruitfulness of it. He faith he will not cut it, he will not delve it, and he will command the clouds, that they shall not rain upon it: whereby is signisied the teaching of his holy word, which St. Paul, after a like manner, expreffed by planting and watering; meaning that he will take that away from them, so that they shall he no longer of his kingdom, they shall be no longer governed by his holy Spirit, they shall be put from the grace and benesits that they had, and ever might have enjoyed through Christ; they shall be deprived os the heavenly light and lise, which they had in Christ, whilst they abode in him; they shall be (as they were once) as men without God in this world, or rather in worse taking. And, to be short, they shall be given into the power of the devil, which beareth the rule in all them that be cast away from God, as he did in Saul and Judas, and generally in i Kin all such, as work after their own wills, the children of mistrust and unbelief. Let us beware therefore, good Christian people, lest that we, rejecting or casting away God's Word, (by the which we obtain and retain true faith in God) be not at length cast off so far, that we become

as the children of unbelief, which be of two forts, far diverse, yea almost clean contrary, and yet both be very far from returning to God: the one sort, only weighing their sinful and detestable living, with the right judgment and straitness of God's righteousness, be so without counsel, and be so comfortless, (as they all must needs be, from whom the spirit os counsel and comfort is gone) that they v will not be persuaded in their hearts, but that either God

cannot, or else that he will not, take them again to his favour and mercy. The other, hearing the loving and large promises ot God's mercy, aud so not conceiving a right faith thereof, make those promises larger than ever God did. trusting, that although they continue in their sinful and detestable living never so long, yet that God, at the end of their lise, will shew his mercy upon them, and that then they will return. And both these two forts of men be in a damnable state, and yet nevertheless, God Ezeli. xvi'i. (who wiilethriot the death of the ivicked) hath shewed andxxxiii. means, whereby both the fame (if they take heed in seaAgainsteies-son) may escape. The sirst, as they do dread God's rightpewion, nil justice in 'punishing sinners, (whereby they should be dismayed, and should despair indeed, as touching any hope that may.be in themselves) so if they would constantly or steadfastly believe, that God's mercy is the remedy appointed against fuch despair and distrust, not only for them, but generally for all that be sorry and truly repentant, and will therewithal stick to God's mercy, they may be sure they shall obtain mercy, and enter into the port or haven of faseguard, into the which whosoever doth come, be they beforotime never so wicked, they shall be out of danger of everlasting damnation, as God by Ezekiel Ezek. iii. faith, What time soever a finncr dotb return^ and take earntjl and true repentance, I will forget all his wickedness. The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should be as ready to believethe threatenings of God; as well Affiinst they should believe the Law, as the Golpel; as well that uon"mP" there is an hell and everlasting sire, as that there is an heaven and everlasting joy: as well they should believe damnation to be threatened to the wicked and evil-doers, as salvation to be promised to the faithful in word and works: as well they should believe God to be true in the one, as in the other. And the sinners, that continue in their wicked living, ought to think, that the promises of God's mercy, and the Gospel, pertain not unto them being in that state, but only the Law, and those Scriptures which contain the wrath and indignation of God,

and

sad his threatenings, which should certify them, that as do over-boldly presume of God's mercy, and live utely; so doth God still more and more withdraw his mercy from them; and he is so provoked thereby to wrath at length, that he destroyeth such presumers many times suddenly. For of such St. Paul faith thus, When they shall i Thess. v. fay, it is peace, there is no danger, thenshall sudden de/trutlion fjmr upon them. Let us beware therefore of such naughty boldness to sin. For God, which hath promised his mercy to them that be truly repentant, (although it be at the latter end) hath not promised to the presumptuous sinner, either that he shall have long lise, or that he (hall have true repentance at the last end. But for that purpose hath he made every man's death uncertain, that he should not put his hope in the end, and in the mean season (to God's high displeafure) live ungodly. Wherefore, let us follow the counsel of the Wise Man; let us make no tarrying to turn unto the Lord; let us not put off" from day to day, for suddenly shall his wrath come, aud in time of vengeav.ee he will destroy the wicked. Let us therefore turn betimes; and when we turn, let us pray to God, as Hosea teacheth, faying, Forgive all our fi?is, receive us Ho'sea xiv. graciously. And if we turn to him with an humble and a very penitent heart, he will receive us to his favour and grace for his holy name's fake, for his promise fake, for his truth and mercies fake, promised to all faithful believers in Jesus Christ, his only natural Son: to whom, the only Saviour of the world, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, and power, world without end. Amen.

[graphic]

AN

AST

EXHORTATION

AGAINST

The Fear of Death.

IT is not to be marvelled that worldly men do sear to die. For death depriveth them of all worldly honours, riches, and posteslions, in the fruition whereof the worldly man counteth himself happy, so long as he may enjoy them at his own pleafure; and otherwise, if he be dispoffeffed of the lame, without hope of recovery, then he can no otherwise think of himself, but that he is unhappy, because he hath lost his worldly joy and pleafure. Alas, thinketh this carnal man, shall I now depart for ever from all my honours, all my treasure, from my country, friends, riches, poffeffions, and worldly pleasures, which are my joy and heart's delight? Alas, that ever that day should come, when all these I must bid farewell at once, and never enjoy any of them after. Wherefore it is not without Ecttus. xii. great cause spoken of the Wise Man, O death, how bitter and sour is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth in peace and prosperity in his substance, to a man living at ease, leading his lise after his own mind without trouble, and is therewithal well pampered and sed? There be other men, whom this world doth not so greatly laugh upon, but rather vex and oppress with poverty, sickness, or some other adversity; yet they do tear death, partly because the slesh abhorreth naturally its own sorrowful diffolution, which death doth threaten to them; and partly by reason of sickneffes and painful diseases, which be most strong pangs and agonies in the slesh, and use commonly to come to sick men before death, or at the least accompany death, whensoever it cometh.

Although these two causes seem great and weighty to

a worldly a worldly man, whereupon he is moved to sear death; ttt there is another cause much greater than any of these afore rehearsed, for which indeed he hath just cause to fear death; and that is, the state and condition whereunto at the last end death bringeth all them that have their hearts sixed upon this world, without repentance and amendment. This state and condition is called the second death, which unto all such shall ensue after this bodily death. And this is that death which indeed ought to be dreaded and seared: for it is an everlasting loss, without remedy, of the grace and favour of God, and of everlasting joy, pleasure, and selicity. And it is not only the loss for ever of all these eternal pleasures, but also it is the condemnation both of body and foul (without cither appellation, or hope of redemption) unto everlasting pains in hell. Unto this state de;ith sent the unmerciful and ungodlv rich man, (that Luke speaketh of in his Gospel) Luke ,vl. who living in all wealth and pleasure in this world, and cheristiin.r himself daily with dainty fare, and gorgeous apparel, despised poor Lazarus, that lay pitiful at his gate, miserably plagued and full of sores, and also grievousty pined with hunger. Both these two were arrested by death, which sent Lazarus, the poor miserable man, by angels anon unto Abraham's bosom; a place of rest, pleasure, and consolation: but the unmerciful rich man descended down into hell; and being in torments, he cried for comfort, complaining of the intolerable pain that he sufsered in that slame of sire ; but it was too fate. So unto this place bodily death sendeth all them that in this world have their joy and selicity, all them that in this world be unfaithful unto God, and uncharitable unto their neighbours, so dying without repentance and hope of God's mercy. Wherefore it is no marvel, that the worldly man seareth death; for he hath much more cause so to do, than he himself doth consider. Thus we see three causes why worldly men sear death. One, because they shall lose The first. thereby their worldly honours, riches, poffestions, and all their hearts desires: another, because of the painful diseases, Second. and bitter pangs, which commonly men luffer, either before, of'at the time of death: but the chief cause aboveThirdall other, is the dread of the miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they sear shall follow, after their departing from the worldly pleafures of this present lise.

For these causes be all mortal men (which be given to the love of this world) both in sear, and state ot death,

through

« PreviousContinue »