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mies,” verse. 18. But when that judge was dead, they returned, and corrupted themselves, and so the anger of the Lord was hot against them again, verses 19, 20. Then God raised up Othniel, and he judged Israel, and the Spirit of the Lord came on him, and the Lord delivered their enemies into his hand, chap. iii., and so the land had rest forty years, verse 10, 11. But when Othniel died, the children of Israel did evil again, and so the Lord delivered them into the hands of their enemies, verses 12–14. Then God raised up Ehud, and he judged Israel, and subdued their enemies, verse 30 ; but when Ehud was dead, the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord again, chap. iv. 1, and the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan. Then they cried unto the Lord, and he raised up Deborah and Barak, who destroyed their enemies, praised God, and settled religion, and the land had rest forty years, chap. v. 31. Thus unsettled was the land, whilst there was no succession of godly magistrates. Would you therefore have your land settled ? pray for a continuation, and succession of godly magistrates, and that care may be now taken for this thing: thus shall your land and state be established.
Yet this is not enough; but these godly, righteous men, must not only do some righteous things; but govern in righteousness : for the throne is established by righteousness : though righteous men do rule, yet if they oppress the people, and do not govern in righteousness, the nation cannot be settled. Now God hath promised a new heaven, and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwells; not where righteous things shall be done, and where righteousness shall now and then pass through it; but where righteousness shall take up its habitation and dwelling. Pray, and pray much for this; for by this shall your throne be established.
Yet this is not all; but the governors of a nation, must believe and trust in the Lord; not ruling and managing the affairs of the nation by policy only, and moral prudence; but they must trust in the Lord, and live, and act by faith in their government; for saith the Lord to Ahaz, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established,” Isa. vii. 9. So that if princes, governors, and rulers, will trust in their own strength, or in their confederacies with other nations, they and their land cannot be settled : but if in all their dealings with the nations, they rule and act in a way of faith towards God, then shall the land be established. And therefore let them, and all the people, remember the good counsel of that good king Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xx. 20, “ Believe in the Lord your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.”
As for a church. All the churches must know, that they are a people which of all others, are laid out for sufferings ; unto them especially it is given, not only to believe, but to suffer for Christ; and the serious consideration hereof, will help to establish them: for when the apostles went up and down confirming the disciples, and churches, what doctrine did they preach unto them but this ? Acts xiv. 21, “ They returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of God.”
If particular churches would be settled and established, they must have all the officers, and ordinances of Christ then; as a ship under sail, with all its sails out, is beautiful and doth move evenly; so shall they also do. A church is never settled, till it have all those officers in it, which our Lord and Saviour Christ hath appointed. And what is the reason that many are so unsettled at this day, but because they do either despise, or neglect those offices, and officers, which are the fruits of Christ's ascension, and which he hath given for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine," Eph. iv. 11–14. What is more uncertain than a weathercock that is carried about with every wind? If you forsake the ministry, and those officers which Christ hath given to his church, this will be your state and condition, saith the apostle here. Now, when pride or covetousness gets into churches, then, though they have some of Christ's officers amongst them, yet they will not be for all: for, say they, we are not able to maintain more than one; and, saith that one, if another he chosen, I must have less, and rule less. Oh, that churches therefore, would take heed of these great sins, pride,
and covetousness; which will always keep them in an settled condition.
Let all the churches know, what the word of God's patience is, and observe and keep the same: For saith our Saviour to the church of Philadelphia, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world ; and hiun that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out," Rev. ii. 10, 12. He that overcometh, is the same that keepeth the word of Christ's patience : what is that? In all times : there is some truth, which is the trying, suffering truth. In Luther's time, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, was the word of God's patience; in queen Mary's time, that truth which opposed transubstantiation, was the word of God's patience; In Athanasius' time, the doctrine of Christ's Deity was the word of Christ's patience. There is always some truth or other, the profession and owning whereof, saith, here is the patience of the saints, Now if the churches keep that word, and overcome in the keeping of it, the Lord Christ will make every member of them, as a pillar in the temple of God, that shall go no more out.
In case any difficulty or trouble do arise in a church which is beyond their own light and strength, they must call in the help of other churches : for when there was such a knot as the church of Antioch could not untie, they sent to the church and apostles at Jerusalem, Acts xv. 16 ; who having settled the matter, they sent the result and decrees unto other churches concerned, whereby they had peace and establishment.
But especially, it is the duty of all the churches to pray, and pray much for this great mercy of establishment; for the Lord hath said, Isa. lxii. 6, “ Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Such a time as this there is a coming; we are commanded to pray, and to pray earnestly for it; and the Lord hath not only promised the mercy, but to give hearts to pray for it: for saith he, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, 0 Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace, day nor night,” wherefore let us give him no rest: so shall the churches have rest, and be established.
As for particular persons. Wouldst thou be established in the truth, and good ways of God? Then observe what those things are, which do make others unsettled, and take heed thereof. In case a man doth decay, or break in his estate ; some great merchant, tradesman, or farmer break, you will diligently look into the causes of it, and say, this man lived at too high a rate, beyond his estate ; or he was bound for others, or he kept ill company, or he did not keep his accounts well, and therefore I will take heed of these things. Now will ye observe the causes of an outward break, and will ye not observe what are the reasons that so many are unsettled, break and decay, in the trade of their souls ? Surely, either it is because they do want primitive breakings; for the stony ground comes to nothing at the last, though it hath much joy at the first, because it wants depth of earth. The stick that is thrust into the earth, is more easily pulled up than the plant which is rooted in the earth. So are all those who have no root in themselves. Or because they take up great resolutions, without answerable pre-deliberations; whereas we know that the needle must play about the polar point, before it comes to stand and settle; he that would hit the mark, must take his level before he parts with his arrow. And if men resolve before they have fully considered, they will ere long be unresolved again. Or because men do not walk by a settled rule : he can never be settled, that doth not walk by a settled rule : a man's own thoughts and apprehensions are unsettled things; the Hebrew word for thoughts,* comes from a root which signifies to move, as the tops of trees, because as the tops of the trees waver, and are in continual motion, so are our thoughts and apprehensions. But the word of the Lord is settled as the heavens, Ps. cxix. “ Thy word is for ever settled in heaven.” So long as I want the divine counsel of the word, my heart is like a vagrant, that is most unstable, said Bernard ; for whilst I am not subject to God, I am contrary to myself. Or because they are divided in their own hearts : : a double minded man, is unstable in all his ways, saith the apostle ; and when men have a heart, and a heart,
* D'DPD cogitationes quæ in corde sunt sicut ramus in arbore hinc inde diffusus.
aby as a heart for the world, yet a good mind to Christ; how is it possible but they should be most unsettled ?
Or because they are too confident of their own strength and judgment: whereas the only way to be firm and stedfast, is to be sensible of one's own infirmity. We read of a twofold confidence in Peter; a confidence in Christ, and a confidence in his own strength : when he was confident in Christ, saying, “Master, if it be thou, command that I come unto thee,” he did not miscarry; but when he was confident in his own strength, saying; “ Lord, though all men forsake thee, yet will not 1,” then he fell, and fell foully. “Hold thou me up,” said the Psalmist," and I shall be safe, and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually," Ps. cxix. 119. But if men lean to their own understanding, are confident of their own strength, and think that they are able to deal with all gainsayers, and so will try all things, God leaves them to their own opinions, and they scrabble upon the door, and do change their behaviour. Or because men do forsake the ministry, which Christ hath given to the churches for their edification, perfection, and establishment, Eph. ix. 11–14. Or because they have too fair an opinion of those that are erroneous, thinking that they may be godly, though they be never so unsound in their judgments, whereby they are drawn into society and communion with them, and so fall from their own stedfastness; whereas the apostle tells us of the error of the wicked, 2 Peter iii. 17, and that men may be wicked upon the account of their errors in judgment, James v. 19, 20, “ Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him ; let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins:" and our Lord and Saviour Christ calling upon us to beware of false prophets, Matt. vii. 15, tells us, that they are corrupt trees, and cannot bring forth good fruit, verse 16, 17, 18. As if he should say, if you would take heed, and beware of them, you must know them, and not think that they are good men; for if you think that they may be good, notwithstanding their errors in doctrine, you will be misled by them, and removed from your stedfastness. Or because that men do not improve their christian communion for the life and power of godliness, but for light only, and discoursing