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like kind is capable of. What is this, you will say? It is in brief, let the work of God as stated be your guide in all your consultations, and it will direct you to aim at these two ends.
[1.] To preserve peace, to compose differences, to make up breaches, to avoid all occasions of divisions at home.
[2.] To make up, unite, gather into one common interest, the Protestant nations abroad in the world, that we may stand or fall together, and not be devoured one after another. That these are the things which God calls you to mind, and do, if you will bear any regard to his present work, is, I say, written with all the beams of providence beforementioned. If the Lord should suffer you to be regardless either to the one or the other, know you not that it would be bitterness in the latter end? Ask your friends what they desire, your enemies what they fear, the nations abroad what they are doing; consider Babylon, consider Zion; and if one and the same voice come from them all, not to attend unto it, would be not to attend to the voice of God. It is indeed an easy thing for you to gratify Satan, satiate the desire of your enemies, lay a foundation of troubles; it is but attending to the clamours of men without, and the tumultuating of lusts and carnal wisdom within, and the whole work is done. But to carry on the work of God in the particulars mentioned, this is not so easy a task; self must be denied, many glorious pretences laid aside, contrary reasonings answered, men's weaknesses, miscarriages, failings borne withal, because they are men; and which is more than all, our own particular darling desires, it may be, let go unsatisfied, though moulded into contrivances for many years. The truth is, the combinations of the antichristian party in the world are so evident, their successes so notorious, their designs so fixed, their advantages to carry them on so many, that to persuade with them, who have power for that end and purpose, to make it their business to keep union amongst ourselves, on all good and honest terms, and to endeavour the union of all that call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours, in the world, were to cast a reproach upon their wisdom, foresight, and zeal. So that it sufficeth me to have mentioned these things.
Use 3. Encourage all things that lie in a tendency and subserviency to the work of God, unfolded and insisted on. For instance,
(1.) Wherever you see any work of real reformation, tending to the advancement of the gospel, discarding of old useless forms received by tradition from our fathers, separating the precious from the vile, according to the several measures of light, which God in his infinite wisdom hath graciously imparted, let not needless objections and hinderances lie in the way, but give in all due encouragements to the men of such engagements. Perhaps the business of carrying on reformation is grievous to some, who in their anger and wrath, revenge and disappointment, may make complaints of it to you, in private, or in public. The Lord give you wisdom, that you may never weaken the hands, or sadden the hearts of men, who are willing to join hearts and hands with you to save a poor nation, and to keep life in the work of God in the midst thereof.
(2.) What you find established already in this kind, encourage, preserve, improve, that the work fail not.
(3.) Find out what is wanting, and pursue it, as God gives you advantage and opportunity.
(4.) Where men, under pretence of religion, make it their business to defile themselves, or disturb the civil peace and quiet of others, let them know, that the sword is not borne in vain. I can but name these things.
Honourable, my heart's desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may be the repairers of breaches, and the restorers of paths for men to walk in ; that you may be the preservers of the good old cause of England, according to the growth it received in, and under, several providential dispensations. Many particulars lie in my heart to propose unto you, but on very many considerations I shall name none at present of them, but close all with some few general directions.
[1.] Secure your spirits, that in sincerity you seek the public good of the nations, and the prosperity of the good people therein, who have adhered to the good cause of liberty and religion. If this be in your eye, as that which is principally intended, as you may pray in faith for the presence of God with you, and have a comfortable expectation of his protection and favour; so if in the pursuit of it
through human frailty you should err, or mistake in the choice of means, paths, ways tending to that end, God will guide you, and lead you, and not leave you until he hath made straight paths for your feet. But if at the bottom there lie secret animosities, self-will, desire of obtaining greatness or power, on the one hand or other; if every such thing be not on all hands subdued unto public good, prayers will be weakened, carnal wisdom increased, the counsel of God rejected, and you will wander in all your ways without suc
[2.] Keep alive this principle (which whether any will hear, or whether any will forbear, I know not; but this I am sure of, in the latter end it will be found to be true) according as you regard, cleave to, promote, protect, on the one side; or despise, contemn, and oppose on the other, the common interest of Zion, the people of God before laid down : so will your affairs either flourish, prosper, and succeed on the one hand; or wither, decay, and be fruitless, on the other. In all other things that shall fall under your consideration, that relate to the civil government of the nations, prudence, conjecture, probability, consideration of circumstances, and the present posture of things, may take place; this is capable of no framing to the one hand or other, upon any pretence whatever.
[3.] If it be possible, keep up a spirit of love and forbearance among yourselves; love thinketh none evil.' Do not impose designs on one another, and then interpret every thing that is spoken, though in never so much sincerity and simplicity of spirit, in a proportion to that design; this will turn judgment into wormwood, and truth into hemlock.
GOD'S PRESENCE WITH A PEOPLE,
SPRING OF THEIR PROSPERITY;
SPECIAL INTEREST IN ABIDING WITH HIM.
. This sermon was preached to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, at Westminster, Oct. 30, 1656, being a day of solemn huniliation.
SIRS, My hope that some impression may possibly remain upon your hearts and spirits, of and from the things delivered unto you in the ensuing sermon, make me willing unto the obedience of presenting it unto you, upon your command, in this manner. Were I not persuaded, that your peace, interest, and concernment is expressed therein, and knew not with what simplicity of heart you were minded thereof, I should have chosen on many accounts to have waved this duty. But having now performed what is incumbent on me, to render this service useful, recommending it yet farther to the grace of God, I humbly beg that it may not in this return unto you, be looked on as a thing of course and so laid aside, but be reviewed with that intension of spirit, which is necessary in duties of this importance; whereby you may manifest that your command unto this service, was grounded on a sense of some advantage to be made by that performance of it. Sundry things I confess, that were spoken unto you, are gone beyond my recovery, having had their rise from the present assistance which God was pleased to