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This sermon was preached at a Fast, Dec. 22, 1681.
To the READER, Upon the desire of some, interested in the publication of this sermon, I have perused it, and do communicate these my thoughts concerning it.
There appears unto me in it those two things, which do above all others commend any sermon, or any other book; namely, most weighty and seasonable argument, with very judicious and methodical management.
If I am able to judge, the management speaks, 'arma virumque,' the man and his furniture. And it is like its great author, well known to this age, and like to be so unto future ones, by his writings in more than one language. There is a favour due unto all posthumous pieces, of which sort this is; but there is little need that this piece seems to have of it.
As for its argument, it is very salvation; and that not merely personal, or domestical, but national. This, if any thing, will be acknowledged momentous; and now, if ever, it must be acknowledged seasonable. Now, in this our day, “known only to the Lord.' Nay now, that it is neither day nor night, as the prophet speaks. Now that city and country are crying, 'watch
what of the night? watchman, what of the night? Now, that the three frightful signs of approaching night are so upon us; I mean, shadows growing long, labourers going apace home, and wild beasts going boldly abroad.
Quis talia fando temperet à lachrymis ?'
In a word, here is that which will sufficiently recommend itself to all serious readers. It is the com
plaint of many, that our booksellers’ shops are become heaps of dry sand, in which many a rich stone is lost. But it is known to all, that diamonds will be found out by their own lustre. And I make no great question but so this sermon will be. That it may be so, and may go much abroad, and do good wherever it comes, is the
Thy servant in Christ Jesus,
D. BURGESS. From my house in Bridges Street, in
Covent Garden, Aug. 7, 1690.
For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of
hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of
Israel.-Jer. li. 5. This chapter, and the foregoing, are an eminent prophecy and prediction of the destruction of Babylon, and of the land of the Chaldeans, of the metropolitical city of the empire, and of the nation itself. There is a double occasion for the inserting of these words. The first is to declare the grounds and reasons, why God would bring that destruction upon Babylon, and upon the land of the Chaldeans. The words of ver. 4. are, The slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets.' Why so ? For, saith he, Israel hath not been forsaken.' The reason why God will destroy the empire of Babylon is, because he will remember Israel, and what they have done against him. This lies in store for another Babylon in God's appointed time. The second reason is, that it may be for the comfort, for the supportment of Israel and Judah, under that distress which was then befalling them, upon the entrance of this Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans. Notwithstanding all, saith he, yet · Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah of his God.'
We are called this day to join our cries with the nation in the behalf of the land of our nativity. And though it hath been, as most of you know, my constant course on such solemn days as these are, to treat in particular about our own sins, our own decays, our own means of recovery ; yet, upon this occasion I shall, as God shall help me, from these words, represent unto you the state of the nation wherein we live, and the only way and means for our deliverance from universal destruction. To declare our interest herein, some things must be observed concerning this Babylon, whose destruction is so solemnly prophesied of in this and the foregoing chapter; and I must observe three things concerning it.
1. That Babylon was the original of apostacy from the natural worship of God unto idolatry in the whole world
There was great iniquity before the flood, but no mention of any idolatry. There was a natural worship of God throughout the world, that was not corrupted with idolatry. There is no mention of it until the building of Babel. There it began: the tower which they built, they turned into a temple of Belus, whom they had made a god, and laid bis image in the top of it. There was the original. You shall see immediately how we are concerned. There was the original of apostacy from natural worship. unto idolatry.
2. Their idolatry. The idolatry that there began, consisted in image worship, in the worshipping of graven images, which was their idolatry, that they set up with respect unto men departed, whom they worshipped by them. Four times in this prophecy doth God say, he will take vengeance on their graven images. And from Isa. xl. to the end of xlvi. you have a description of the idolatry of Babylon, that it all consisted in making carved idols, and graven images. The rest of the world, especially of the eastern nations, fell into the worshipping of the sun, which they called Baal, and Moloch, and Kemosh, all names of the sun; and the worship of the moon, which they called Ashtaroth, and the queen of heaven; but the idolatry of Babylon was by graven images and idols.
3. They were, so far as appears upon record, the first state in the world, that ever persecuted for religion, that oppressed the true worshippers of God, as such, as being mad upon their idols,' as the prophet saith they were, they were inflamed upon them. They were the first that oppressed the church, because of its worshipping of God, and destroyed that worship among them. Hence the church prays in this chapter, · The vengeance of the Lord, and of his temple be upon Babylon: not only the vengeance of the Lord, for destroying of his people; but the vengeance of his temple, for destroying of his worship, be upon Babylon, shall Zion say. Others have afflicted me,' saith he in the same chapter, but this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon hath broken my bones.' They were the great oppressors of the church.
Upon these three accounts, which is that I would observe, the name of Babylon, and all that is spoken of it in the Old Testament, is transferred to the apostate church of