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lot. Mark that place in Deut. iii. 18, Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh were come into their lot and inheritance, before the rest of the children of Israel: what then, should they sit down quietly? No, at ver. 18, they were not to sit down, but they were to pass over armed before their brethren. So God having provided for you, before many of your dear brethren and his good people, you are not now to sit down quietly in your own lot, but to go up armed before the rest of God's people, and prayer is your best harness.
You are here on purpose to pray; it is the end why you are come hither, that you might have liberty to pray. I am loth to speak it, I would I might not, you had praying liberty denied to you; when any met together in private to pray, you know it was their and your reproach. This place is your Gilgal, wherein the Lord hath rolled away that reproach from you. Oh, that your liberty might not degenerate into licence. You have now praying liberty, and if this be the thing you are come for, and now you have such an opportunity, will you not improve it? If a man leave one place of trading, that he may set up his shop with more freedom in another ; and in the second place money be brought unto him, will he refuse to take money? This is your case, you could not have so free a trade for heaven as you desired, here you have leave to open your shops, and behold this day a praying opportunity, which I call money, is put into your hands; will you refuse it? consider you are come on purpose to pray.
In all likelihood the country shall be hidden, and you shall not lose your prayers. I will tell you what Mr. Brightman saith, whose memory is sweet and precious, he saith, There are three sorts of reformed churches : the first, the German; the second, the French, the Swedish, the Scottish, and Holland; the third the English ; which are all different. For the English is ruled by prelates; the French, the Scottish, Swedish and Holland, is governed by presbyters; the German hold consubstantiation, and other things, which other reformed churches do not. Germany therefore he compared to Sardis, and thence foretold all the evils that have come upon it. Holland, Sweden, Scotland and the French, he compared to Philadelphia, and saith, though they have but a little strength, and the hour of temptation shall come, and some shall labour to shut their door, yet none shall shut it. It is
the rather to be considered, because he foretold the evils that came upon Germany. And why may he not speak true in this also ? and then who would not pray for this people, seeing that he may not lose his prayers. Wherefore I entreat you in the name of God, now, up and be doing ; arise, O daughter of Sion ; arise, oh hearts of the people of God, that God might arise, and his enemies might be scattered. Awake, awake, and now up to prayer.
You will say to me, we are agreed, we must go to prayer both now and at home; but what shall we speak, that God may arise and that his enemies may be scattered.
Bring forth the Lord's engagements, and tell him how much he is engaged to help the churches: the Lord saith in his word that Babylon shall fall, Rev. xviii. 8, for strong is that God that hath condemned her; the Lord saith, Psalm cxxi. 4, “ He never slumbereth or sleepeth;” the Lord saith in his word, 2 Chron. vi. 34, 35, “ If his people pray when they go forth to war, he will hear and maintain their cause :" go and tell God, Lord, thou hast said thus and thus: thou hast said thou wilt neither slumber nor sleep; thou hast said thou wilt maintain thy cause; oh, then, arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered.
Tell the Lord how long he hath seemed to sleep, and that the time appointed for the church's deliverance is now at hand. Saith the Psalmist, " It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law," Psalm cxix. 126. And again, “ Have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favour her, yea the set time is come, for thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof," Psalm cii. 13, 14. This is the reason why the time is come. So go to God and tell him, Lord, thou hast stood still: a great while, oh, now the time is come, men have made void thy law, the saints pity the dust and take pleasure in the stones of the wasted churches; it is time for thee to rise, “ Arise, o Lord,” &c.
Tell the Lord that the enemies are up already abundantly; tell him that ere long he will rise, though you do not pray: Lord, if we should never pray, wouldst not thou help the churches; and wilt not thou arise a little the sooner for our prayers? wherefore, “ Arise, O Lord,” &c.
Tell the Lord that all things are now ready; it is an argument that God moveth us with to come in to him : Lord, we use thine own argument: Lord, arise, all things are now ready. When the wind is good, and when the servants of the ship are ready, and have got their tackling all ready, and the anchor is up, only the master is not come into the ship, they will send one to tell him, Sir, the wind is good, your servants are ready, and the ship is under sail, we pray you come away; so tell the Lord that all his people are up at prayer expecting him, and all the prayers of God's people are spread, and their hearts under sail, and nothing can be done till the Master come, until God himself come; come, therefore, O Lord, come away: “ Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered."
A SERMON UNTO TAE VOLUNTEERS OF THE CITY OF NORWICH, AND ALSO TO
THE VOLUNTEERS OF GREAT YARMOUTH, IN NORFOLK. “ My heart is towards the governors of Israel that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord.”—Judges v. 9.
PREACHED A. D. 1642.
6 Be of good
Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God, and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.”—2 Sam, x. 12.
In these words are the speech of that brave commander Joab, which he made at the head of his army, being surrounded with many enemies, as you read verse 9. He divides his army into two parts, the one led up by Abishai his brother, the rest of the forces he brings up himself, and spake thus to Abishai and to the rest of his men: courage, and let us play the men,” &c. .
In those words you have these two parts: the braveness of his resolution : “ Be of good courage and let us play the men.” The humbleness of his submission: “And the Lord do that which seemeth him good.” Or, if you will, thus : an exhortation to true noble valour in the former part, of good courage,” &c.; and, secondly, an humble resignation of himself and cause and success into the hands of God; “ And the Lord do that which seemeth him good.” His exhortation is strengthened with divers arguments : “ It is for our people.” The Ammonites and Syrians are now about us, if you do not behave yourselves valiantly your people are pillaged, plundered, captived, murthered ; and therefore “ be of courage, and let us play the men.” And for the cities of our God. Some think that by “ the city of our God,” is meant that city where the tabernacle was: but as Abulensis observes,* though in 1 Chron. xix. 13, it is read city, in this
* Omnes urbes Israel vocantur urbes Dei ; quia Deus illas dederat Israelitis vel illa erat specialiter terra Dei.-Abulens. in 1 Chron. xix.
place it is read in the plural number, cities ; and, as he saith, all their cities were the cities of God, because given by God, and because God in his worship and true religion was in their cities; and therefore, now, Joab seeing all the people were in danger, and the cities of God, the religion and worship of God, he breaks forth into this exhortation, “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God.”
I shall not at this time reach the second part; the humbleness of his submission and gracious resignation : only from his exhortation observe thus much :
In times of great danger, when religion is in hazard and the people of God are in danger, good courage is very requisite.
It is then good for good people to have good courage when the times are evil.
This is that which Joab pitcheth upon, and is the only matter of his exhortation : “Be of good courage, and let us play the men.” So David, when he was begirt and berounded with many enemies, “ Wait on the Lord (saith he) and be of good courage.” Some there are that do wait on the Lord but are not of good courage; some have good courage, or courage, but do not wait on the Lord.
Wait on the Lord, be of good courage," Psalm xxvii. 14; both together; "and he shall strengthen thine heart,” Psalm xxxi. 24. Good courage, then, is very requisite in evil times, Some think this belongs only to soldiers; but if you look into Haggai ii. 4, you shall find this commanded to all the people : “ Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord (that is the magistrates); and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest (there is the ministers); and be strong, all ye people of the Lord (there is the people).” And that you read, be strong, in the Hebrew, is all one with the word of my text, be of good courage; and if you will, you may read the words so: “Be of good courage, O Zerubbabel,” &c. So that it lies upon all, in evil times, men and women, to be of good courage. For my better prosecution of this point, I shall do these three things:
First, Give the description of good courage, shewing what it is.
Secondly, Confirm the point.