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1 Cor. i.
He is able to set stars and heavens out of course, to set the sun back, and to make it stand, to open the earth, to divide the sea, to make the dry rock to yield water, to make the clouds to give bread, to make children to preach, to make an ass to speak, to make the devils to confess his holy name, and to say, “I know who thou art, even the Holy One of God.” With this power he blew down the walls of Hiericho, with this power he beateth down whatsoever hold is built up against God. This power standeth not in worldly strength, but is shewed in weakness : “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty things,” saith the apostle Paul. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” help is in the name of the Lord, which hath made both heaven and earth." Thus is the prince of darkness cast out, thus is the gospel of Christ carried throughout the world: this is the overthrow of Hiericho: this is the might of God's hand.
But is Hiericho so laid flat that no man will attempt or wish to restore it? Verily, it was afterward restored in the days of Achab; but he that restored it was accursed. Even so it fareth with this spiritual Hiericho: it is never so blown down but some would wish to raise it up. God delivered his people out of Egypt; and yet there were that looked back, and wished to be there again ; and, when they had manna in their mouths, they thought it a loathsome and a squeamish meat, and wished for their gourds and onions; and, having the angels of God to go in visible form before them to be their guides both day and night, yet wished to be under Pharao, in the house of bondage, to be tormented with labours, to live in tyranny and oppression, where they had their children slain before their faces.
Notwithstanding God had delivered his people from the captivity of Babylon, yet the greatest part of them remained still there, and would never return to see Jerusalem.
“Babylon, the great city, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils;" yet John saith : Many shall mourn, and weep, and lament, and cry over her, “Alas, alas, the great city Babylon, the mighty city Babylon, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and gilded with gold, and precious stone, and pearls!” “ what city was like to this great city ?”
David saith : “Their sound is gone forth through all the earth, and their words into the ends of the world.” And the prophet Esay: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that declareth and publisheth peace, that declareth good tidings, and publisheth salvation !" Yet St Paul saith: “They have not all obeyed the gospel.” And Esay: "Lord, who hath believed our report? or to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?" And again: “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walked in a way that was not good, after their own imaginations.” The truth of God is not alway taken, and it is never so received, that every man liketh thereof. The Lord knoweth who are his, and to whom he will make himself known.
Christ himself was a stumbling-stone unto the unbelieving Jews, and a sign that should be spoken against. St John saith: “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light; because their deeds were evil.” The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation; it is the savour of life unto life; yet is it also the savour of death unto death. “For many will not suffer wholesome doctrine, but, having their ears itching, shall after their own lust get them a heap of teachers, and shall turn their ears from the truth, and shall be given unto fables; and shall give heed unto spirits of error, and doctrinel of devils.” Because wisdom cannot enter into a wicked heart, Lor dwell in a body that is subject to sin, the devil, the prince of this world, was cast forth; yet St Peter saith, “He walketh about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” And even so standeth it with Jerusalem, the city of the Lord, and that cursed city Hiericho. Many refuse the blessing of the Lord in their deliverance from under Pharao, and feeding them with heavenly manna, and giving them his angels to be their guides : they will not return home to their own
2 Tim. iv.
1 Tim. iv.
1 Pet. v.
['Doctrines, 1583, 1609.]
country out of their captivity in Babylon : though they see the judgments of God
Three special helps the devil hath used to further this purpose of restoring Hiericho: first, the hard heart, and blindness of the people; secondly, the eloquence and subtile persuasion of the learned; thirdly, the sword and violence of tyrants. Of these three the first is the greatest; for blindness and stubbornness will prevail where cunning and tyranny can do nothing. Hereof the prophet Jeremy complaineth: "My people is foolish, they have not known Jer. iv. me: they are foolish children, and have none understanding: they are wise to do evil
, but to do well they have no knowledge.” Of this sort our Saviour speaketh: “This people's heart is waxed fat, and their ears are dull of hear- Matt. xiii. ing, and with their eyes have they winked; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and should return, that I might heal them.” Of this sort Esay reporteth: “ It is a rebel- Isai. Xxx. lious people, lying children, and children that would not hear the law of the Lord; which say unto the seers, See not; and unto the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; but speak flattering things unto us, prophesy errors: depart out of the way, go out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from us." Through blindness and stubbornness all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron: “Wherefore now hath the Lord brought Num. xiv. us to this land to fall upon the sword ?... were it not better for us to return into Egypt?” Therefore the Lord said: “I will do to them as they have spoken :" "they shall not see the land whereof I sware to their fathers," but their carcases shall fall in this wilderness : “they shall not enter into my rest.” With this blindness God doth punish those which obey not his word. “ The Lord shall Deut. xxviii. smite thee,” saith Moses, “with madness and blindness, and with astonying of heart; thou shalt grope at noon-days, as the blind gropeth in darkness.” I will take my Spirit from thee, I will command the clouds that they shall not give thee rain: thou hast forsaken me; and I will forsake thee: “I will cause the sun to go down at noon; and I will darken the earth at clear day, saith the Lord.” “I will send a famine upon the land, not a famine of bread, nor Amos viii. a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord :... they shall seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” St Paul told the Jews at Antiochia : “Seeing you put the word from you, and judge yourselves unworthy Acts xiii. of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the gentiles ;" you shall be left in your filthiness.
Now what shall be done to these hard-hearted and blind builders of the spiritual Hiericho? Christ telleth us: “It shall be easier in that day for Luke x. them of Sodom than for that city,” which will not receive the disciples. And again : “Except ye believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” John viii. The end of such is worse than the beginning. All those plagues and utter destruction came upon Hierusalem, because she knew not the time of her visitation,
even the day of God's mercy, as they were foretold by the prophet
“Behold, that which I have built will I destroy, and that which I Jer. xlv. have planted will I pluck up, even this whole land.” So doth God plague one sin with another, and letteth them which are filthy grow in filthiness, because of the hardness of their heart which cannot repent; whereby they heap unto themselves vengeance against the day of the Lord's wrath: such are not worthy to see Hierusalem; therefore are they left to perish in Hiericho.
As for the eloquence and deceitful persuasion of the learned, I will say nothing. Notwithstanding, it hath been and is so used to the restoring of Hiericho, that a blind man may perceive it, and all the world may rue it. One said sometimes, that, were the matter never so false, he would prove it by eloquence to be true. Another said, the sun and moon stand still, and the earth
1 Sam. xvii.
1 Cor. i.
goeth about. Another said that snow was black, and that he was able well to prove it; and there were many which believed them. Such were they of whom it is written in the prophet Esay, “that spake good of evil, and evil of good; which put darkness for light, and light for darkness; and put bitter for sweet, and sweet for sour.” So they mocked the eyes of the ignorant, and abused the gifts of God. “ Thy wisdom and thy knowledge,” saith the prophet, “they have caused thee to rebel; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else:” “ thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels : let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and prognosticators stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.”
We may answer such learned disputers as David answered the proud Goliah: “ Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield,” that is, with great eloquence and shew of learning; “but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the host of Israel, whom thou hast railed upon." By the prophet Jeremy thus saith the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, neither the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me.” Again: “It is written,” saith the apostle, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will cast away the understanding of the prudent." And Eliphaz saith: "He taketh the wise in their craftiness; and the counsel of the wicked is made foolish :” he will open their errors, he will bewray their craftiness, he will overthrow the cunning devices of their wit: these helps shall not suffice to build up cursed Hiericho.
Now to speak of the third help, of the power of princes, whom the wicked builders of this spiritual Hiericho have in all ages deceived. The authority of a prince is great: he is the servant of God, he carrieth the sword for God to take vengeance on him that doth evil. Salomon saith : “ The wrath of a king is as messengers of death.”
Unto them these builders have recourse, and accuse the servants of the Lord, which have waited upon Joshua, and have done the Lord's will upon this wilful and rebellious city.
The heathen and infidels used this help against the Christians; they accused them before kings that they were wicked, that they worshipped strange gods, that they lived in adultery and incest, that they killed their children, and did feed upon man's flesh. Before them they charged the Christians with divisions and schisms, saying: You Christians agree not among yourselves, you have so many sects, and one sect is at defiance with another, and condemneth one another; therefore your religion is not true, it is not of God: since the time we forsook our gods, these and these evils are come upon us. They charged Christians that they were stirrers up of rebellion, and that they disquieted the minds of the people. Let these Christians, said they, be cast to the lions. Such complaints were brought before kings and princes against the Christians of the primitive church; and these false charges have been thought true; therefore were there sharp laws made against them. It was commanded that no man should speak in the name of Christ, and who did not obey this should die the death.
Who is able to express the miseries which followed in the execution of those laws ? There was no sword nor weapon, no rack nor torment, no fire nor water, but they were prepared for and stained with christian blood. Soldiers were kept in whole garrisons: princes made leagues, kept counsels, devised new and cruel laws, used conspiracies, practised all kinds of strange and terrible deaths for the defence of Hiericho: they killed Christians by thousands?. Maximianus burnt in one temple twenty thousand, assembled together to celebrate the memory of the nativity of Christ3. Dioclesian made proclamation for the overthrowing of the christian churches throughout all the Roman empire; he caused the books of holy scripture to be burned in the open market-place
, and displaced with great ignominy such Christians as were magistrates, and
[* For detailed accounts of the persecution under the emperors here named see Euseb. in Hist. Eccles. Script. Amst. 1695-1700. Lib. viii. capp. iii. &c.
pp. 240, &c.]
[ See Niceph. Call. Hist. Eccles. Lut. Par. 1680. Lib. vii. cap. vi. Tom. I. pp. 446, 7.]
[* Ignomy, 1583.)
Lib. i. cap.
Carion, Lib. iii.
all other that bare any office. These thought that hereby the gospel of Christ should be abolished and quite overthrown.
But the Lord, which was mighty to save Daniel in the midst of the lions, and Jonas in the whale's belly, and his three servants in the flaming fire, and Israel in the Red sea, whose eyes are over the righteous, and which is nigh unto all that call upon him, was also able to make his own cause good, to give courage to his servants, and trembling and anguish of mind to their enemies. For, the more his servants were diminished, the more they increased; and, the more tyrants prevailed, the more they were weakened. He that should die was bold and careless; he that should kill was fearfully amazed: the tormentor mourned, the condemned rejoiced: the dead had the glory, the tyrants the shame : their sacrifices decayed, their temples were forsaken, their gods laughed to scorn, their priests were woods, and lacked their large offerings : the Lord did let the curse fall upon them which he made by his servant Joshua, and which shall come upon all those that will seek to raise up Hiericho.
To rehearse the examples of God's mighty hand, and to declare what he hath done in all ages to shew forth his power, no tongue is able: yet is it 6 expedient to give forth one or two examples thereof. Licinius, an ungodly emperor, after he had extended his force against the Christians to suppress them, and gave greatest shew of his favour to such about him as could best devise new and strange torments, felt the plagues of God, was sundry times vanquished by Constantinus, to whom he yielded himself, and led a private Tripart. Hist. life in Thessalia, until at length he, which had been before the enemy unto vilt: all learning, was slain by his own soldiers?. The palm of the hand which Balthazar saw write upon the plaster of the wall did more amaze him ; his Dan. v. countenance was more changed, and his thoughts more troubled therewith, than if he had been assaulted with the force of a hundred thousand men.
King Pharao first said to the messengers of God, Moses and Aaron, “I know not the Lord,” I care not for him. But, when he felt the smart of God's hand, he cried out unto them: “ The Lord is righteous; but I and my people are Exod. ix. wicked: pray ye unto the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunders and hail; and I will let you go; and you shall tarry no longer.”
Antiochus placed idols in the temple of God, and blasphemed his name, 1 Macc. i. and brought Jerusalem into bondage; he burnt the books of the law in the fire, and cut them in pieces, that so the name of God might no more be remembered: but, when the torments which God cast upon him began to vex him, then he began to leave off his great pride and self-will : when he was plagued, and came to the knowledge of himself with the scourge of God, when he himself might not abide his own stink, he said: “It is meet to be subject 2 Mace. ix. unto God, and that a man which is mortal should not think himself equal to God through pride.” Then he prayed to the Lord, then he delivered the Jews, then he would restore the temple, then he would also become a Jew himself, and go through all the world, and preach the power of God.
Maximianus, practising the like attempts, was likewise stricken: his flesh was Euseb. Lib. eaten with lice, his body rotted inwardly, he was not able to abide the smell of himself. Then he confessed his error, found his guilt, called in his proclamation, stayed his sword, and (albeit it were against his mind) commanded that the Christians should have their books, and use their churches, and hear the scriptures, and call upon the name of Christ, as they had done before S.
Julian of all other began most politicly and subtilly, and therefore most mightily, to set up Hiericho: he gave commandment that no christian man's child should go to school, devising thereby to keep them rude and barbarous ; that no Christian should bear office, or live in any manner authority, thereby to make them vile ; that they should never be captains or soldiers, that so they
viii. capp. X. & xix.
p5 Wood: wild.)
capp. x. xvi. pp. 247, 8, 57. Conf. Hist. Eccles.
might be kept in weakness: he removed the Christians out of his court. He opened again the temples of the heathen, and did erect idols in them; and, the more to give credit and countenance to the matter, he himself, being the emperor, took upon him the office of a bishop, and did offer sacrifice: many of the nobles and many of the people applied themselves to follow this example, and did the like. He licensed the Jews to return home again, and to build up Jerusalem: he allowed them money, he gave them liberties; and all this only in the despite of Christ, only to discredit and deface the glory of the Son of God. Hereby the heretics upbraided and defied Christ: the faithful were dismayed; and the church of God was brought to great confusion.
But now let us enter into the sanctuary of the Lord's counsels, and behold the latter end of these doings. The Jews fell to work, laid their foundation, provided all things needful, and began to build : suddenly brake out an earthquake, and overthrew their work; lightnings fell from heaven and burnt their tools in their hands, and their coats on their backs. The print that the lightning made in their garments was a cross, in token that they were the enemies of the cross of Christ. Then was the name of Christ more glorious, and his gospel more beautiful than before.
Julian took his journey into Persia, and had made great threats, that at his return he would consume the name of Christians, root out the name of the Galileans, and not leave one Christian alive, and would set up the image of Venus in all his churches. But, being in the field, he was suddenly stricken in the breast with an arrow from heaven: he pulled it out: the wound was deadly: he cursed Christ, he took of the blood into his hand, threw it up into the air, and thus cried : Vicisti, Galilæe: “O thou Christ of Galilee, thou hast conquered.” Thus suddenly the tyrant was slain, his attempts were accursed, his frame of Hiericho would not stand. The faithful Christians were set at liberty, they went to their churches, they gave God the glory, they made triumphs and were joyful. Thus God
looketh upon his faithful; such is the power and readiness of his hand. Hist. Tripart. The devil himself confessed that when any Christian was present his mouth
was muzzled, he could not speak, he could do nothing?. The like might be said of Nero, Caligula, Maximinus, Dioclesian, Valerian, and others: they had conquered France, Spain, Germany, England, Hungary, Dalmatia, Arabia, India, Persia, and Scythia : they had the world at commandment; yet a few poor Christians, artificers, women, and maidens, ignorant and unlearned people, they could never conquer. Nero had crucified Peter, and beheaded Paul, that preached the gospel; but the gospel which they preached they could not behead, they could not crucify. Nero, Caligula, Commodus, and sundry others like tyrants were slain. Dioclesian, as it is thought, was stricken mad, made unable to rule, and therefore left the empire. Valerian was taken in the field by Sapores king of Persia, and tied in a chain, and, being the emperor of the world, was made to lie down on allfour, that Sapores might set his feet on his shoulders, and so get to horseback.
All this notwithstanding, the gospel of Christ grew still and went forward. Such success shall they have that take in hand to build Hiericho. The Lord will smite his enemies upon the cheek-bone, he will break the teeth of the wicked. Well may they bark, they shall not bite. “God knoweth the way of the righteous;
and the way of the wicked shall perish.” “God resisteth the proud, but giveth Psal. xxxvii. grace to the lowly." “Yet a little while,” saith David, “and the wicked shall not
appear; and thou shalt look after his place, and he shall not be found :" the remembrance of him shall perish. Every plant which our heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out. Put not your trust then in princes, nor in the sons of men, which cannot save themselves: their breath departeth, and they return to their earth. It is God that is King of kings, which loveth the righteous, and overthroweth the way of the wicked. “All flesh is grass, and all the grace thereof is as the flower of the field:.... the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Was God able in those days to avenge the cruelty of tyrants, to withstand the proud, to defend the humble and lowly; and shall we think that his hand is
[? Hist. Tripart. Par. Lib. vii. cap. xxxix. foll. P. vi. vü.)