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sent in to then). Shortly, that God, who hath made all things for himself, hath, in the making of this most excellent and useful piece, had an eye to his own glory in our beholding of his works; which if we neglect to do, we do, what in us lies, frustrate God's purpose and intention in creating them.
3. Add to this, that the LORD DELIGHTS TO HAVE HIS WORKS BEHELD: for he knows the excellency and perfection of them; and knows, that the more they are seen and noted, the more honour will accrue to the Maker of them : like as some skilful artizan, some exquisite limner or carver, when he hath made a master-piece of his art, he doth not hide it up in some dark corner, where it may not be seen; but sets it forth in the best light, and rejoices to have it seen and admired. Thus doth the Almighty. When the creature was first made, because there were no other eyes to see it, he looked upon it with great complacency, and rejoiced in his own handywork: it being the epiphonema to every day's work, when he comes to the relation of the particularities of his workmanship, And God saw that it was good : and, in a recapitulation or winding up all, God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good; Gen. i. 31. But when the angels were created, and saw the glorious handywork of God, they did presently applaud the marvellous works of their Maker; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; Job xxxviii. 7. And when, after that, man was created, he joined with those glorious spirits, in viewing and magnifying the works of his Creator. And so he should do. God was well pleased, that he should do so. Alas! we men, who are conscious to our own infirmity, let pass many things from us, which we care not how little they are viewed and scanned: for we know there may be flaws found in our best performances, which at the first blush appear not. We hear, sometimes, a discourse; which, as it passes through the ear, sounds well, and seems to carry a good show of exquisiteness: which, if it be set down and come to an accurate examination, may be found defective, in this point; in that, redundant; here, misplaced; there, inconsequent. Even coarse tapestry may afar off show well; which, when it comes to be close viewed, discovers a homeliness in texture, and faults enough both in shapes and colours. But as for the works of God, In wisdom hast thou made them all; saith the Prophet. The more they are scanned and tried, the more pure and precious they will appear: and, as Solomon expresses it, Man shall find nothing after him ; Eccl. vii. 14. And the God, that knows this, loves that we should, in all humble and modest diligence, search into, and behold his works.
4. There is great reason, that we should carefully behold the works of the Lord, because NONE BUT WE CAN DO IT. Of such infinite variety of creatures, there is none but the rational and intelligent, viz. angels and men, that can so much as take potice of what God hath done; no, not of themselves. That sense, whereby they are led, cannot reach so high as a thought. What is before them, they see, so far as their downward eyes will reach; and make towards that, which serves their appetite; and avoid, what they apprehend inay hurt them: but, as for their Maker, or for their own condition, or their fellow creatures, they are not capable of any glimpse of knowledge thereof. And, even of reasonable creatures, what a world is there, that are as insensible of the works of God, as if they were utterly insensate! Pagans, Infidels, Worldlings, that are carried by no other guide, than mere brute creatures are; and affect no other light, than that of sense! Alas! what is it to them, what God doth, or what he doth not? How much then doth it conceru us, whom God hath illuminated with any measure of knowledge and furnished with any measure of grace, to be inquisitive into the works of God, and to give glory to him in ali his actions !
5. This shall not be so much advantage to God, (alas! what can we add to the Infinite ?) as BENEFIT TO OURSELVES. It is here, as with those that dig in some precious mine; the deeper they go, the richer they are. Hence it is, that the most contemplative have been noted for most eminent in grace: and, surely, it is their fault, if they be not so; for they should be the best acquainted with God, and with their own duty. Shortly then, seeing the works of God are so excellent, and well-worth beholding; since our eyes were given us for this use; since God delights to have his works viewed; since there are so few, that are capable of giving this glory to God; since, in beholding the works of God, we do most advantage ourselves, both in knowledge and holiness; let us, as we are here invited, Come and behold the works of the Lord.
His works; in all the variety of them: not some one work, but all: : as the works of his creation, so of his administration too: the divers, yea contrary proceedings of God therein; in the changes of his favours and judgments. I confess there is, and may be, some one work of God so marvellous, that it is able and worthy to take up all our thoughts: but we may not suffer our hearts to dwell in any one work of his; but enlarge them to more: we may not rest in the contemplation of his mercy only; but we must look to his judgments, else we shall grow secure: we may not rest in the view of his judgments only, without meet glances at his mercy, else we shall grow to a heartless distrust and despair. As we say in our philosophy, Composita nutriunt, only “ compounds nourish” those things, which are merely simple, can give no nutriment at all: so it is in spiritual matters; there must be a composition, in those objects of contemplation, whereby we would feed and benefit our souls: our resolution for our thoughts, must be the same, that the Psalmist's was for his song, Of mercy and judgment will I sing.
II. Now, that we may descend to the PARTICULARITIES. 1. The Psalmist begins at JUDGMENT. What desolations, &c.
This is the right method. As, in the very being of both, judgment leads the way to mercy; so, in the meditation and view of both: as it was in the creation, The Evening and the Morning were the first day; the darkness of the night led in the brightness of the morning: and, as the Prophet's word was, post tenebras lucem. When we are humbled and astonished with the consideration of God's vengeance upon sinners, then, and not till then, are we meet for the apprehensions of his wonderful mercies. In this regard it is truly verified, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and his judgments are they, that make him feared. It is the thunder, and rain, that prepares the hearts of Israel for Samuel's good counsel; 1 Sam. xii. It is with the hearts of men, as with the earth and the seasons of the fruits thereof. If there be too much ease in the winter, and the sun send forth gleams of heat towards the entrance of the spring, it brings forth the blossoms hastily; which, after, by later frosts, are nipped in the head and miscarry: but, if there be kindly frosts and colds at the first, that hold in the juice of the plants, they are, in due time, drawn forth by seasonable heats, and prosper. First, therefore, let us be wrought upon, by the meditation of judgments; and, then, we shall be fit for the beneficial applications of mercy.
We are then here first invited to a tragical sight. We are carried into the Camera di morte, to see the ghastly visage of deaths, and desolations all the world over; than which nothing can be more horrible and dreadful. You are called out to see piles of dead carcase: to see whole basketfuls of heads, as was presented to Jehu: a woeful spectacle, but a necessary one. Seo, therefore, what desolations the Lord hath wrought in all the earth.
Desolations by wars: how many fields have been drenched with blood, and composted with carcases! how many millions of men have been cut off in all ages, by the edge of the sword!
Desolations by faminet: wherein men have been forced to make their bodies one another's sepulchres; and mothers to devour their children of a span long.
Desolations by plague and pestilence; which hath swept away, as our story tells us, eight hundred thousand in one city.
Desolations by inundations of waters; which have covered the faces of inany regions, and rinsed the earth of her unclean inhabitants.
Desolations by earthquakes; which have swallowed up whole cities, and those great and populous.
Desolations wrought by the hand of his angels: as in Egypt; in the tents of the Assyrians, one hundred and eighty-five thousand in one night; in the camp of Israel, in David's pestilence.
Desolations wrought by the hand of men, in battles and massacres.
Desolations by wild-beasts; as in the colonies of Ashur planted in Samaria.
Desolations by the swarms of obnoxious and noisome creatures; as in Egypt, and since in Africa: He spake the word, and the grasshoppers came, and caterpillers innumerable; Psalm cv. 34. Insomuch as, in the consulship of M. Fulvius Flaccus, after the bloody
* One would wonder, that so many should have had a being upon earth.
t Our Florignes tells us, that, in the year 665, there was so great a mortality in this island, that men run up by troops to the tops of the rocks, and cast themselies into the sea.
wars of Africa, followed infinite numbers of locusts; which, after devouring of all herbs and fruit, were, by a sudden wind, hoised into the African sea: infection followed upon their putrefaction, and thereupon a general mortality : in number, fourscore thousand died: upon the sea coast betwixt Carthage and Utica, above two hundred thousand.
Desolations every way, and by what variety of means soever; yet all wrought by the Divine Hand: What desolations he hath wrought. Whoever be the instrument, He is the Author. This is that, which God challengeth to himself; neither witt he lose the glory of these great executions. We men have a rule
in the course of public administrations, and we think a politic one, That all matters of favour princes should derive from themselves, but all acts of harshness and severity they should put off from their persons to subordinate agents. God will not stand upon such points: he rather professes to lay claim to all the memorable acts of vengeance upon sinful nations and people. Israel's revolt under Jeroboam is owned by him, in his message to Rehoboam's captains: Ashur is the rod of his wrath: he slew great kings, and overthrew mighty kings: he hisseth for the fly of Egypt, and for the bee of Assyria ; Isaiah vii. 18. Thou hast scattered thine enemies abroad with thy mighty arm; Psalm lxxxix. 11.
Good reason, that God should claim the propriety of these acts; for they are the noble effects and proofs of his vindicative justice. Justice renders to all their own. Public desolations are due to public wickednesses. And, if this should not be done, how would it appear, that God took notice of the notorious sins of a people, or were sensible of their provocations ? As in outward Government, if there were no Assizes or Sessions to judge and punish malefactors, how could we think other, but that all were turned lawless, and that no respect is given to law or justice? The Wise Man could observe, that, because judgment is not speedily executed upon wicked men, the hearts of men are set in them to do evil. But, surely, if it were not executed at all, men would turn devils. But now, that God calls sinful nations to account for their iniquity by exemplary judgments, men are ready to say, with the Psalmist, Doubtless, there is a God, that judgeth the earth; Psalm lviii. 18. God will be glorified, even for hell itself: Topheth is ordained of old; Isaiah xxx. 33. 2. Even these desolatory judgments are a notable improvement
(1.) There cannot easily be a greater proof of his respects to his own, than in sweeping away their enemies. Which synote Egypt, with their first born; for his mercy endureth for ever: which overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the sea; for his mercy endureth for ever: which smote great kings, and slew mighty kings; for his mercy endureth for ever: Sihon, king of the Amoriles, and Og, the king of Basan; for his mercy endureth for ever; Psalm cxxxix.
Neither is there a greater demonstration of his mercy, in his strokes, than in his warnings: for, surely, God intends, by these
of his mercy
examples of his just vengeance, to deter all others from following the footsteps of those wicked men, whom he thus plagues: as good princes and magistrates do so order their executions, that pæna ad paucos, terror ad multos; “ some may smart, all may fear.” It is excellent and pregnant, which the Apostle hath; I Cor. x. 11: Now all these thing's happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. See, I beseech you, God hath further drifts in his executions of judgments, than we can imagine. He intends them, not only for acts, but patterns. He means not so much to punish, as to teach: every judgment is a new lesson; and to teach, not the next successions, but all generations of men to the end of the world. And, if we do not make this use of his terrible proceedings, we shall be much wanting, both to him and ourselves: and, no marvel if we be whipped for dull non-proficients in God's school, if we be not taught fear and obedience by his so many judgments.
We need not cast our eyes much back, to the view of former ages: though there, we may meet with worlds of examples. Let us but look at the present estate of our miserable neighbourhood; of the woeful ruins of Germany; once, and in our time, one of the most rich and flourishing countries of the Christian world: famous for goodly cities, for a plentiful soil, for frequence of traffic, for the seat of the empire; now wasted with the miseries of a long and cruel war, wallowing in blood, buried in rubbish and dust.Oh, see the desolations, that God hath wrought in this part of the earth; and pick out of them, as we well may, pity, fear, thankfulness: Pity and just commiseration of the grievous sufferings of that desolate nation: Fear of that just hand of God, which hath thus humbled them, and might no less deservedly have fallen as heavily upon us : Thankfulness for those gracious immunities, which he hath given us hitherto, from their evils; and merciful respites of repentance for those sins, which have called down these judgments upon them.
(2.) And this is the former particular object, which the Psalmist calls our eyes unto: worthy of our view; but yet not the main and intended subject of this day's discourse; rather the other, that riow follows, the cessation of arms, and the blessing of peace; He makes the wars to cease in all the world, &c. however the sight and due meditation of the miseries of war, and the vastations that follow upon it, may be a good preparative to us, for setting a true value upon the benefit of peace.
For us, alas ! we would rather a threatening, than a sense of war. Our neighbours entered into our borders, not with a public denunciation of an offensive war, but with a profession of defence. And, if some blood were mutually shed in the passage, it was not out of a professedly hostile intention on either part; which had it been, might easily have proceeded to a far greater slaughter: but out of the sudden apprehensions of the intervening crosses of each other's purposes. And, if the long abode in those our quarters have been not a little chargeable to us; yet it hath been without