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An end is coming unto all that whole dispensation under which we are. To you who by the riches of free grace have obtained union and communion with the Lord Jesus, rest and peace, when God shall everlastingly rain snares, fire and brimstone upon the workers of iniquity. Some mock in. deed, and say, 'Where is the promise of his coming ?' But we know, the 'Lord is not slack, as some men count slackness,' but exerciseth patience until the appointed season for the bringing about of his own glorious ends, which he hath determined concerning his creatures. Why should we then complain, when any one, perhaps before our expectation, but yet according to God's determination, makes an eutrance into the end of all ? All things work to that season. This state of things is not for continuance. That which is incumbent, is in this uncertain space of time allotted to us, to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure, as also to serve the Lord faithfully in our generations, wherein we cannot be surprised : we have an example in him who is gone before ; it is true, the Lord Jesus is our primitive pattern and example: but those also who have followed him, wherein they have followed him, are to be eyed and marked as provocations to the same labour of faith and love, wherein they were exercised. And that this use may be made by this assembly, I shall add one word concerning him from whom is the occasion thereof.
Every man stands in a threefold capacity : natural; civil; religious. And there are distinct qualifications that are suited unto these several capacities.
1. To the first, as the ornaments and perfections of nature, are suited some seeds of those heroical virtues, as courage, permanency in business, &c. which being in themselves morally indifferent, have their foundations eminently laid in the natures of some persons, which yet hinders not, but that their good improvement is of grace.
2. To the second, or man's civil capacity, there are many eminencies relating as peculiar endowments, which may be referred unto the three heads of ability, faithfulness, and industry, that through them neither by weakness, treachery, nor sloth, the works and employments incumbent on men in their civil state and condition may suffer.
3. Men's peculiar ornament and improvement in their re
ligious capacity, lies in those fruits of the Spirit which we call Christian graces: of these in respect of usefulness, there are three most eminent, viz. faith, love, and self-denial. I speak of them upon another account than the apostle doth,
bere he placeth hope amongst the first three of Christian graces. Now all these in their several kinds were as eminent in the person deceased in his several capacities, as perhaps is usually found in any one in a generation. My business is not to make a funeral oration, only I suppose that without offence I may desire, that in courage and permanency in business (which I name in opposition to that unsettled, pragmatical, shuffling disposition which is in some men), in ability for wisdom and counsel, in faithfulness to his trust, and in his trust, in indefatigable industry in the pursuit of the work committed to him, in faith on the promises of God, and acquaintance with his mind in his mighty works of providence, in love to the Lord Jesus and all his saints, in a tender regard to their interest, delight in their society, contempt of himself and all his for the gospel's sake, with eminent self-denial in all his concernments, in impartiality and sincerity in the execution of justice, that in these and the like things we may have many raised up in the power and spirit wherein he walked before the Lord, and the inhabitants of this nation. This (I say) I hope I may speak without offence here upon such an occasion as this; my business being occasionally to preach the word, not to carry on a part of a funeral ceremony. I shall add no more, but commit you to him, who is able to prepare you for your eternal condition.
I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the
interpretation of the things.--Dan. vii. 15, 16. What there is of concernment for the right understanding of these words, in that part of the chapter which goes before, may be considered in the opening of the words themselves, and therefore I shall immediately attend thereunto.
There are in them four things considerable.
First. The state and condition which Daniel, the penman of this prophecy, expresseth himself to be in, wherein he hath companions in the days wherein we live: “ He was grieved in his spirit in the midst of his body.'
Secondly, The.cause and means whereby he was brought into this perplexed frame of spirit: The visions of his head troubled him.'
Thirdly, The remedy he used for his delivery from that entangled condition of spirit wherein he was: 'He went nigh to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this.'
Fourthly, The issue of that application he made to that one, that stood by for redress: He told him, and made him know the interpretation of the things.'
All these I shall briefly open unto you, that I may lay a foundation for the truth which the Lord hath furnished me with, to hold out unto you this day.
First, In the first, the person spoken of is Daniel himself: ‘I Daniel.' He bears this testimony concerning himself, and his condition was: “He was grieved in his spirit.'
This sermon was preached to the parliament, Oct. 13, 1652, being a day of solemn humiliation.
The person himself was a man highly favoured of God, above all in his generation : so richly furnished with gifts and graces that he is once and again brought forth as an example, and instanced in by God himself, upon the account of eminence in wisdom and piety. Yet all this preserves him not from falling into this perplexed condition, Dan. i. 17. 20. Ez. ix. 24. xxviii. 3. Now as the principal work of all the holy prophets, which have been since the world began, (Luke i. 70. 1 Pet. i. 10–12.) was to preach, set forth, and declare the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messias, who was for to come ; so some especial concernments of his person, righteousness, and kingdom, were in especial manner committed unto them respectively. His passion and righteousness to Isaiah, the covenant of in him to Jeremiah, and to this Daniel most eminently the great works of the providence of God, in the shaking and overturning of kingdoms and nations, in a subserviency to his kingdom ; with the revelation hereof for the consolation of the church in all ages, did the Lord honour him of whom we speak.
For the present he describes himself in somewhat a perplexed condition. His spirit (mind and soul) was grieved, sick, troubled, or disquieted in the midst of his body ; that is, deeply, nearly, closely: it sets out the greatness of his trouble, the anxiety of his thoughts within him : like David when he expostulated with his soul about it. Why art thou so sad, my soul? and why art thou so disquieted within me ?' Psal. xliii. 5. he knew not what to say, what to do, nor wherewith to relieve himself. He was filled with sad thoughts, sad apprehensions of what was to come to pass, and what might be the issue of the things that had been discovered unto him. This, I say, is the frame and temper he describes himself to be in: a man under sad apprehensions of the issues and events of things, and the dispensations of God, as many are at this day: and upon that account closely and nearly perplexed.
Secondly, The cause of this perturbation of mind and spirit was from the visions of his head : •The visions of his head troubled him.'
He calls them'visions of the head,' because that is the seat of the internal senses, and phantasy whereby visions are received. So he calls them a dream,' ver. 1. and visions of his head upon his bed. Yet such visions, such a dream it was, as being immediately from God, and containing a no less certain discovery of his will and mind, than if the things mentioned in them had been spoken face to face; he writes them by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, ver. 2. for the use of the church.
I shall not take the advantage of going forth unto any discourse, of dreams, visions, oracles, and those other diverse ways and manners, Heb. i. 1. of revealing his mind and will, which God was pleased to use with his prophets of old; Numb. xii. 6-8. My aim lies another way: it sufficeth only to take notice, that God gave him in his sleep a representation of the things here expressed, which he was to give over, for the use of the church in following ages. The matter of these visions, which did so much trouble him, falls more directly under our consideration. Now;
1. The subject of these perplexing visions is a represen. tation of the four great empires of the world, which had, and were to have dominion, in and over the places of the church's greatest concernments, and were all to receive their period and destruction by the Lord Christ, and his revenging hand.
And these three things he mentions of them therein: (1.) Their rise; (2.) Nature; (3.) Destruction.
(1.) In ver. 2. he describes their rise and original : it was · from the strivings of the four winds of the heavens, upon the great sea;' he compares them to the most violent, uncontrollable, and tumultuating things in the whole creation : winds and seas! What waves, what horrible storms, what mixing of heaven and earth, what confusion and destruction must needs ensue the fierce contest of all contrary winds upon the great sea! Such are the springs of empires and governments for the most part amongst men, such their entrances and advancements. In particular, such were the beginnings of the four empires, here spoken of.' Wars, tumults, confusions, blood, destruction, desolation, were the seeds of their greatness;' vastitiem ubi fecerunt, pacem vocant.' Galgac. apud Tacit. Seas and great waters do in the Scripture represent people and nations. Rev. xvii. 15. The waters which thou sawest where the whore sitteth, are peo