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plicity of deities ; nor yet of his worship, so as to serve him by absurd, and, what is worse, by impious practices, which yet the best and the most reputed of the gentiles placed all their devotion in. In sum, they had that sure word of prophecy, which was able to make them wise to salvation ; while the neighbouring nations had such a religion, as neither represented them wise in this world, nor like to be saved in the next.

And yet, as pure and as divine as the Jewish worship was, it had many more ceremonies than ours; nor do we find any proviso for the abatement of the least of them, to gratify any tender conscience whatsoever; though yet the nature of God, who was to be worshipped, and of the souls of men, who were to pay him that worship, were the same then that they are now, and consequently apt to be helped or hindered by the same means: which one consideration is enough to cut the sinews of all the pitiful arguments that the nonconforming comprehensive sages did, or do, or ever will produce. But we understand the men; they strike indeed at the church, but their aim is further, and, if God prevents not, their blow will follow it.

How this profane, atheistical age may rate things, I know not; but believe it, the accounts of England run high in the books of Heaven, for the religion which God has planted amongst us. A religion refined from all that superfluous dross which the Romish is generally and justly charged with ; and yet so prudent in its economy and constitution, as not to leave itself wholly unprovided of decency in circumstantials, which are the necessary appendants of all human actions; and consequently being left to the arbitrement of every man's various fancy, would be so differing, loose, and extravagant, that should but a sober heathen view such a divine worship, he would certainly say, (as St. Paul speaks,) were we not mad? while with amazement he beheld one man paying his reverence to an infinite Majesty sitting, another expressing the same reverence (forsooth) with his hat on his head; postures which pass for affront and contumely even in our addresses to an earthly superior.

But let the doctrine, discipline, and rituals of the church of England be searched to the bottom by rational and impartial heads, and then let them, if they please, produce any thing justly offensive to a conscience tender not to the degree of rebellion. God will one day reckon with us for the church privileges we enjoy, and for our religion, which is unquestionably the best, the purest, and the most primitive in the world; how ill soever it has been used by some, who were concerned upon more accounts than one to encourage it. In this respect therefore our case falls in with the Jews, that God has vouchsafed both them and us the greatest of blessings, the richest and most improveable of talents, even a pure, a clear, and an uncorrupted religion. God's regard to which (for

( ought I know) was the chief, if not the only cause of the mercy we commemorate this day.

2. As God planted his vineyard with this so generous a plant, so he was not wanting to refresh and influence it with the continual dews of his mercy, and the showers of his choicest blessings. The miracles of Egypt and the Red sea, the Jews' frequent deliverances from captivity, from the insolence of the

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Philistines and the Midianites, and from that scourge of nations, the Assyrians, were enough, not only to have argued, but even to have shamed them into the highest returns of gratitude and obedience.

And has not God dealt as mercifully and as gloriously with these three nations ? Só that we are an island, not only encompassed with a sea of waters, but also surrounded with an ocean of mercies. From the day that God first vouchsafed us the settlement of the reformed religion under the reign of queen Elizabeth, how has he been like a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, both to guide and protect us in the profession of it? For can we forget the deliverance of eighty-eight, and those victorious mercies, more invincible than the armada designed to invade and enslave us; when the seas and winds had a command from Heaven to fight under the English colours, and to manifest the strength of God in our weakness? Or can we pass over that never to be forgot blessing of this day, which brought to light those hidden and fatal works of darkness, that would have ruined both king and church, and the three estates at a blow; when that God, who humbles himself enough in beholding what is done upon the earth, was pleased to stoop yet lower, and to behold what was doing under it too; and so, by a mature providence, stepping in between the match and the fatal train, to catch us as it were a brand out of the fire, or rather, by the greater mercy of prevention, to keep the destructive element from kindling upon us; and thereby tỏ give us both an opportunity and obligation of eternally celebrating the mercy of such a glorious rescue from a plot in all the parts of it so black and hideous,


that the sober Papists themselves ever did, and do, and, I believe, ever will profess an utter abhorrence of it, how ready soever they may be to repeat it.

But the divine mercy has not took up here; it has delivered us from a blacker and a greater calamity; a calamity, the memory of which has even blown up the gunpowder treason itself; I mean the late horrid and for ever accursed rebellion, contrived, acted, and carried on by persons and principles worse, and more destructive to monarchy, than those of the Papists. For the crowns of Spain and of France thrive and flourish, for all the Popish religion settled in those kingdoms; but the sanctified actors of our late confusions were such as tore the crown from the king's head, and his head from his shoulders, and would, upon the same advantages, undoubtedly do the same again. The least finger of fanaticism bearing harder and heavier upon monarchy, than the whole loins of Popery: God deliver us from them both.

Now surely, by these miraculous instances of mercy, God would fain provoke us to such a degree of piety, as might prevent his justice from consigning us over to a relapse into the same sad effects of the same sins. For can we think that God detected and dashed the conspiracy of this day, only to enable the sons of luxury and ingratitude perpetually to conspire against him? Did he break the neck of the late rebellion, that we might transcribe their actings towards their king into our behaviour towards God? Did he deliver the sword into our hands, that we might thrust it into the bowels of his church? Did he scatter all those antimonarchical sects of presbytery, independency, and anabaptism, and other fanatics, by whatsoever names they stand distinguished, and (such is their good fortune) in a fair way dignified too? I say, did he scatter all these locusts, that we might court their return, recall our old plagues, and fall back into our former Cromwellian confusions? If this be our lot, we must charge our misery upon none but ourselves : for God would have delivered, nay, actually has delivered us; but it seems, even in spite of providence and mercy itself, we are resolved not to be delivered.

3. The third course of God's dealing with the persons here complained of in the text was by judgments.

It is possible that the most generous of plants, fixed in the richest soil, and visited with the kindest and most benign influence of sun and weather, may yet not fructify, till they are pruned and cut, and rid of those superfluous branches and suckers which steal and intercept that juice and sap, which, according to the prime intention of nature, should pass into fruit. And therefore the great husbandman of souls takes this course with his spiritual vines, to add the pruning-hook of his judgments to the more gentle manurings of his mercy; and when watering will not do, to dig about them. And it is his last course; after which, if they still continue barren, comes the sentence of extirpation, positive and irreversible, Cut them down, why cumber they the ground?

Now that God has not been wanting to endeavour our reduction and fertility by these means also, we can call in many great and sad experiences to attest. For not to mention the sun of mercy, almost as soon as risen in the first reformation of religion, presently setting again in blood in the cruel reign of queen Mary; nor yet to mention the festivity of almost

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