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The Conspiracy of the Gowries & The Gunpowder Plot
John Henry Parker.
This edition © 2018 CrossReach Publications, Kerry, Ireland
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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Sermons Preached upon the Fifth of August
Sermons of the Gunpowder Treason, Preached upon the Fifth of November
About CrossReach Publications
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This volume contains two separate and entire series of Sermons: the one, upon the Conspiracy of the Gowries, preached upon the fifth of August, consisting of eight Sermons; the other, upon the Gunpowder Treason, preached upon the fifth of November, consisting of ten.
The Sermons in the first series were delivered at intervals between the years 1607 and 1622, both inclusive, before King James I. at Rumsey, Holdenby, Burleigh near Oakham, in the Cathedral Church of Salisbury, and at Windsor. The last Sermon, for 1623, was only prepared to be preached, but was never actually delivered. The whole may be considered as exhibiting in a clear and distinct light, the original source and subsequent derivation of kingly power; the sacredness of the persons of princes, as the anointed of the Lord; the protection afforded them from above, in the discharge of their royal functions; the extreme and desperate wickedness of those who presume, on any pretence whatever, to rise up in rebellion against their authority; and the certainty of drawing down the Divine vengeance upon their heads, and upon their posterity, if they attempt to do so. The arguments in support of these views, are for the most part drawn from Holy Scripture, supported by the authority of Catholic Fathers, and the decrees of Councils.
Conspiracy of the Gowries.
Serm. I. II. III. No variation.
Serm. IV. Ps. 89:20–23. Ver. 21. Therefore Mine hand shall be established with him.… Ver. 22. The enemy shall not oppress him, neither shall the wicked hurt him. Ver. 23. But I will destroy.…
Serm. V. Ps. 21:1–4. Ver. 1.… yea how greatly shall he rejoice in.… Ver. 2. Thou hast given him … Ver. 3. For Thou didst prevent him with liberal blessings, and didst set … Ver. 4. even is omitted.
Serm. VI. Esther 2:21–23. Ver. 21. Bigthan and Teresh, which kept the door, were wroth.…
Serm. VII. and VIII. No variation.
Serm. I. Ps. 118:23, 24. Ver. 23. This was …
Serm. II. III. IV. V. No variation.
Serm. VI. Prov. 24:21–23. Ver. 21.… and meddle not with them that are seditious. Ver. 22.… and who knoweth the ruin of … Ver. 23. Also those things pertain to …
Serm. VII. No variation.
Serm. VIII. Isaiah 37:3.… no strength.…
Serm. IX. Luke 1:74, 75. Ver. 74.… out of the hands … should serve Him … Ver. 75. The order is changed. All the days of our life, in holiness and righteousness before Him.
Serm. X. No variation.
The Sermons in the second series were all delivered at Whitehall, before King James I., between the years 1606 and 1618, both inclusive. They are in some respects similar to the preceding, particularly as regards the rights of Kings; and are mainly occupied in the consideration of God’s infinite mercy in preserving the King and Parliament from the atrocious designs of traitorous conspirators, and of the necessity of keeping up a thankful remembrance of this great deliverance; of the lesson to be learned from the rebuke given to the disciples, who would have called down fire from Heaven upon the Samaritans; of the divine commission with which Kings are entrusted by the King of Kings; of the duty of fearing God and the King, and avoiding the seditious; of the causes to which the failure of the conspiracy in question is attributable, and of the various duties, both public and private, consequent upon the experience of this signal act of mercy.
Such is a brief outline of these discourses; and as they are conversant with principles of scriptural and therefore unchanging truth, they are not of mere temporary interest, referring to past generations with which we have no connection; but are calculated for the instruction of all who are willing to submit to the divine guidance, in their public and social, as well as in their individual relations.
The variations between the texts at the commencement of the Sermons, and the same in the Genevan Bible, are given as before in a note below1a.
The Editor has to acknowledge his obligations to the Rev. C. Seager, M.A., formerly Scholar of Worcester College, and also to the Rev. J. B. Morris, M.A., Fellow of Exeter College, for revising the Hebrew quotations which have occurred in the course of this volume.
J. P. W.
All Saints’ Day,
THE KING’S MAJESTY AT RUMSEY,
on the fifth of august, a.d. mdcvii
2 Samuel 18:32
And Cushi answered, The enemies of my Lord the King, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
That young man was Absalom. And he was now hanging upon an oak, with three darts through him. Like him doth Cushi wish all may be, that do as he did: that is, be the King’s enemies, and rise up against him. For I find in the text a dangerous treason plotted against King David: plotted, but defeated; and Absalom, the author of it, brought to a wretched end. Good news thereof brought by Cushi that saw it. And that good news here concluded with this wish, That all the King’s enemies may speed no better, no otherwise than he sped. For all the world, like glad tidings doth this day afford us, in a like memorable example of God’s just proceeding against a couple of like treacherous wretches. A barbarous and bloody treason they imagined against our sovereign.2a God brought their mischief upon their own heads, Et facti sunt sicut Absalom. And we are here now to renew with joy the memory of these glad tidings: and withal, to pray Cushi’s prayer, and all to say Amen to it, That the like end may ever come to the like attempts. Last year we changed but one word; David into James: we change no more now, but the number; one into two. The enemies of my lord be as that young man, saith Cushi. Say we, The enemies of our lord be as those two young men were: those two “brethren”3* in mischief. I will not do them that honour, to name them; no more than Cushi did him here.
The words we read, as a prayer; they may also be read as a prophecy. Either, Let them be; or, They shall be as that young man is (for the verb is the future tense). They have no other way, in Hebrew, to express their optative but so: that hard it is, many times, to say whether it be a prayer or a prediction, that so runs in the future. And for aught I know, it must be left to the discretion of the translator, to take which he will, since it may be both. As Psalm the twenty-first, either, “The King shall rejoice,”4* by way of foretelling: or, “Let the King rejoice,” by way of wishing. The sure way is, to take it both ways: so, we shall be sure not to miss Cushi’s meaning. And so will we do, (for so we may do,) even take it both ways: for it is both: both a good prayer, and a true prophecy. And prayer and prophecy sort well together. Ὅτιςβούλεταιτοῦτοκαὶοἴεται, saith the philosopher. Affectiones facile faciunt opiniones, saith the Schoolman. Our wishes we would always have ominous, and our prayer turn into the nature of a prediction. What we pray for rightly, we would gladly persuade ourselves shall be certainly.
Of this prophetical prayer then. I. As a prayer, first; II. then, as a prophecy. Prayer is of two sorts: 1. for, or 2. against. As 1. for good, so 2. against evil; both things and persons. This is against, a kind of prayer; indeed, an imprecation. Two things give forth themselves in the prayer: 1. The parties, against whom it is; 2. and the wish itself, what it is. The parties are, 1. first, the King’s enemies: 2. then, those that rise up against him, that is, the King’s rebels. Two diverse kinds: neither superfluous. For there be no tautologies in Scripture: no doubling the point there, but with some advantage ever.
The wish is, that they may be as Absalom. And two things are in that wish (if we mark them well): 1. Be as he: that is, not perish only (that is not all); 2. but perish, and so perish, as he did. How was that? Vidi Absalom pendentem,5* and so hanging yet alive, thrust through with three darts. As he, in his end: as he, in the manner of his end. That the heads that contrive may hang as high as his; and the hearts that effect, be thrust through as his was: thrice through, though once would serve.
And when we have done with it, as a prayer; then will we begin with it, as a prophecy. That, so he wished; and that, as he wished, so he foretold; and as he foretold, so it came to pass. All that rose after fell as fast as they rose; et facti sunt sicut puer iste.
Last of all, that this prayer or prophecy is not pent or shut up in David’s days: not to end with him. It reacheth unto these of ours. Hath his force and vigour still: hath, and shall have, unto the world’s end. God heard him praying, and inspired him prophesying. As it came to pass in Absalom, so did it in those that rose after him: that rose against David, that rose against many others since David, and namely, against ours. So it hath been hitherto; and so ever may it be! Cushi, not only a Priest, to pray that so they be; but a Prophet, to foretell that so they shall be.
Fiant sicut Absalom, is a prayer, and, which more is, an imprecation. Before we pray it, it will not be amiss, to enquire whether we may lawfully pray any such, or no. I move it, because of some so tender-hearted men, that they can by no means brook or endure any imprecation; to wish any so evil, as to pray they may come to an evil end. It is nothing fitting, (as well saith St. James,)6* that with the tongue we should bless God; and with the same wish evil to man. It is Balaam’s office, veni et maledic;7* and who would succeed him in his office? It is Shimei’s practice; and who would be like him? And this is Cushi’s prayer,8* like himself: some would have him an Ethiopian; but some black swart fellow, as his name giveth.
Again, these were Jews all; we are Christians. We have a charge given us by St. Paul not to do it: not to them that do us hurt. “Bless them that persecute you: bless,”9* I say, “and curse not.” We have a pattern set us by St. Peter, of Him,10* Qui cum malediceretur non, &c. That wished not their evil, that both wished, and did Him all the evil they could, both in deed and in word.
And this I know: yet is not all this so peremptory, but that notwithstanding even all this, against some, in some cases, such prayer hath been, and may be used. May be? nay, ought to be otherwhile. For such may the persons be,11* as St. Peter called some, maledictionis filii: and their facts so execrable,12* as God Himself commanded Moses to go up into the mount Ebal, and there, against twelve sundry sorts of such, pronounce maledictus. Even as we see, the serpent’s sin was so exorbitant,13* as it drew a maledictus, even from God’s own blessed mouth. It is not good then, to be nice or tender in this point; nor I would not wish men to be more tender or pitiful than God; whose doing of it sheweth us it ought to be done. For to begin with the last (of Christians). He that gave us the charge,14* (St. Paul,) for all his charge given, we know what he did to Elymas. And he that set us the pattern, (St. Peter,) for all his pattern set,15* we know he used it against Simon Magus. And for the other: it is not Balaam only; but even Moses,16* as mild a man as ever the earth bare, you may read that he came to it though.17* Neither was it Shimei only, but David too: (though a gracious and gentle prince, may Shimei well say; yet) what a Psalm of imprecations hath he penned! I mean the one hundred and ninth Psalm. It was thought by our fathers, that there was not a more heavy or bitter curse could be wished to any, than to say Deus laudum upon him, which is the beginning of that Psalm. Neither was it Cushi with his swart colour only, but an Angel as bright as the sun, even the Angel of the Lord, that curseth (himself),18* and giveth an express warrant to curse the inhabitants of Meroz. But what speak we of Saints, or Angels? Christ Himself doth it in the Gospel,19* as appeareth by His many Væs. Yea, God Himself, we see, against the serpent,20* and his whole brood. What the Saints, Angels, God Himself, have done, may be done, I trust. It may be done then, licet; and ought to be done sometimes, oportet: and in this very case, it ought and must: a necessity lieth upon us, we cannot choose but do it. For pray we must for the King’s safety: Cushi, and all good subjects; but for his safety we cannot pray, but we must (withal) for the overthrow of his underminers. Pro includeth contra: if for him, then against his foes. If wish him to rise, and stand upright; then them to fall, and become his “footstool.”21* So that, if all be well weighed, it is not voluntary, it is even wrung from us.
And that indeed is the only caveat, that it be not voluntary: that we be drawn to it hardly, and use it not upon every slight and trifling occasion, against every thing that crosseth our humour; but when the foulness of the fact seems to exact it: and that caveat is not amiss. I like well of the Hebrew proverb: (Gerizim is the mount where they blessed; Ebal, where they gave the curse:) they say, We must creep into Ebal, and leap into Gerizim: that is, be swift to one, and slow to the other. We are then not to forswear going into mount Ebal utterly; but to be well advised, ere we go into it. To do it,22* but not to do it, where God blesseth: which Balaam was still itching to do. The cause it is, which maketh the curse fall; otherwise, if it be causeless, it will not light, but fly over as a bird. Therefore, to know well, both men and matter, against whom we let it fly. And we cannot better know them, than if we take our light from God: if we do it, but where, and when, and for what, God doth it, we need not be scrupulous: never fear to follow, where He goeth before us. And, by the grace of God, we will be well aware, not to wish aught to any, in this point, but such as shall have warrant even from God’s own mouth.
The special point of advice thus being, to know the parties well, against whom we send it forth; it will concern us, (and our next point it must be,) to take perfect notice of these men. They offer themselves to us, in two terms:23* 1. “The enemies of the King;”24* 2. They that “rise against”25* him: joined here, and as here, so in sundry other places.
The word “enemy” is by David himself glossed, Psalm the fifty-fifth. “It was not an enemy did it to me:” meaning a known, open, professed enemy; “for then,” saith he, “I could have been provided for him:” so may we take it.
The other of “rising against,”26* the phrase is first used of Cain (and lightly the first phrase is the key of the rest); when Abel and he were in the field together walking, it is said, “Cain rose up against him,”27* and knocked him on the head: so is meant of such as keep their malice secret, to do one a mischief suddenly. And the next time it is used, is of Korah, and his complices:28* of them it is said, “They rose up against Moses.” In the former of Cain, it is treachery; in this latter of Korah, it is plain rebellion. In a word, all that “rise against” are “enemies;” but not backward. For enemies may be such as stand on even ground; as one King, or state, with another. Rising, in propriety of speech, is of such as are of inferior place, and yet lift themselves up against their lawful superiors. In the end, both prove enemies, and do the part of enemies; but the former have many times no bond of allegiance; the latter ever have.
We may not ξενίζεσθαι, (to use St. Peter’s own phrase,) “think it strange,”29* that both these sorts, Kings have them: yea, though they be good Kings, (as was David,) yet that they have them.30* Hear David himself speak: “How are mine enemies increased? many are they that rise against me.” Neither the place of a King, nor the virtue of a good King, could quit him, but he had both. He had “enemies:” Ishbosheth, Hanun, Hadadezer, the States of the Philistines. He had those that “rose against” him: Absalom, Ahithophel, Amasa, here; Sheba, Adonijah, Joab, afterward; he had both. And let us not ξενίζεσθαι “think this strange;” since Christ Himself,31* yea, since God Himself hath them too. “For, lo Thine enemies, O Lord, lo Thine enemies,” and those that rise up against Thee (it is the ninety-second Psalm). That we may cease to marvel that Kings have them; or think it is because it is not as it should be. Be they never so as they should; be they as David, “according to God’s own heart;”32* nay, be they as Christ, as God himself; both these they shall have. Let not this make us stumble, but that we may go forward.
Of these two then, if we shall fit ourselves to the present, we shall not need to speak of the one sort, of “enemies.” The King hath none: no King, nor state, profess themselves for such; nor never may do. The latter, it shall not be amiss to stay a little, and look better on, who they be. This day’s peril was, all his peril, both in August and November, is from them that (like Cain,) rise up against him. A King by nature is Rex Alkum, saith Solomon;33* one, against whom there is no rising: so God would have it. Subjects, saith the Apostle,34* to lie down before them: rising up against is clean contrary to that; and so, contrary to God’s will. He would have no rising. The thought to rise (voluerunt insurgere in Regem) is said of Bigthan and Teresh, two of Ahasuerus’ chamber, (mark that voluerunt insurgere) was enough to attaint them:35* the rising but of the will, to bring them to the gallows. Nor the tongue is not to rise, or lift up itself. Korah did but gainsay: his tongue was but up, and he, and all that took his part, perished in their gainsaying,36* “the gainsaying of Korah.”37* But chiefly none, either, with Judas, to “lift up his heel” to betray; or, with Cain, to lift up the hand to do violence. No party, no part of any party, to rise against the King. Yet, rise they will, and do: both the thought swell, and exsurgent e vobis,38* saith the Apostle, perversa loquentes, yea, and perversa facientes: lewd speech used; and, worse than speech, presumptuous deeds too.
Now of these that thus rise, two sorts there be. For either they rise against the very state itself of Kings, the very authority they exercise: that is, would have no Kings at all; saying with them, Quis est Dominus noster,39* “Who is Lord over us? as much to say as, by their good will, none; or such as only rise against their persons, as he in the twentieth chapter, that said, “We have no part in David;”40* and they in the Gospel, that say, Nolumus hunc,41* “We will not have this man.” Rule they would not have quite taken away; but not this person to rule over them.
Of the first sort of these risers, are the Anabaptists of our age, by whom all secular jurisdiction is denied. No lawmakers they, but the Evangelists: no courts, but Presbyteries: no punishments, but Church-censures. These rise against the very estate of Kings: and that should they find and feel, if they were once grown enough to make a party.
A second sort there be, that are but bustling themselves to rise: not yet risen; at least not to this step: but in a forwardness they be; proffer at it, that they do. They that seek to bring parity, not into the Commonwealth, by no means; but only into the Church. All parishes alike, every one absolute, entire of itself. No dependency, or superiority, or subordination. But, this once being had, do we not know their second position? Have they not broached it long since? The Church is the house; the Commonwealth but the hangings. The hangings must be made fit to the house, that is, the Commonwealth fashioned to the Church; not the house to the hangings: no, take heed of that. And when they were taken with it, and charged with it, how slightly in their answer do they slip it over. These, when they are got thus far, may rise one step higher; and as Aaron now must not, so (perhaps) neither must Moses, then, exalt himself above the congregation,42* seeing that all God’s people are “holy,” no less than he.
These two rise against their states. Against their persons, two other sorts of persons, both discontented. 1. But the one was, of ambition:43* as Absalom here, that thought it was wonderful great pity, that all causes were not brought before him, considering how able a man he was for it, and the King being negligent in looking to his subjects’ grief. But when he spread a tent aloft,44* and did you know what, not to be told, and that in the sight of all Israel; sure, he that could commit that villanous act in the eyes of all Israel, he that could charge Hushai,45* as with a foul fault, for forsaking his friend, himself, then being in armour against his own father, was not so very fit a man to do justice. No matter: so he took himself; that was enough, to rise. 2. The other, out of revenge (the case of Bigthan and Teresh: and of our two, as is thought). They were angry at somewhat, it is not said what,46* nor it skills not what, but voluerunt insurgere, rise they would for it, that they would. These did not wish government quite taken away; only the King’s person they heaved at. Him, for some purpose, they must needs have out of the way.
By this time we know the parties reasonable well. Be these they whom God, Angels, and Saints, hold for execrable? They, whom Cushi may pray against, and we with him? These be they. It was Korah, one of the crew, against whom Moses prayed, they might be visited with a strange visitation, and not die the common death of other men.47* No more he did. It was Ahithophel, another of them, against whom David penned the Psalm of bitter imprecations. They of Meroz, whom the Angel giveth warrant, and charge both, to curse: wherefore was it?48* Because “they came not to help the Lord,” that is, Deborah, the Lord’s lieutenant, against the forces of Midian. If to be cursed, because they laid not their hand to help him, much more, I trow, if they would seek to lay their hands on him, to mischief and make him away. It was Judas, he was one of these,49* against whom Christ cried, Væ per quem.50* And it was the serpent whom God cursed; and why, what was his fault? What, but that he sought to withdraw our parents from their due subjection; to rise against God, to be gods themselves, and never acknowledge Him, or any, for their superior. These be they, certainly, against whom (God, Angels, and Saints, approving it,) we may say Cushi’s prayer, every syllable of it. May? nay, ought; are even bound to it. Yet, to give full satisfaction; that there be no striving, but that all may say Amen to it, it shall not be amiss, if I may, with your good favour, lay before you some reasons, and those so enforcing, that we shall hold ourselves so bound, as that we cannot avoid but yield to it. I care not much, if I keep the number of Absalom’s darts: they are three.
First, I hold it for clear, if we knew any were God’s enemies, we would none of us make any question, but say, (with Cushi, we need not: it is set down to our hands:) “So perish all Thine enemies, O Lord.” So: how? Even as Sisera. Little difference, in effect, between him and Absalom. Sisera perished with a nail driven into his head: Absalom,51* with a dart thrust through his heart. To the enemies of God, you see, we have warrant. But they that rise against the King are God’s enemies; for God and the King are so in a league, such a knot, so straight between them, as one cannot be enemy to the one, but he must be to the other. This is the knot. They are, by God, of or from God, for or instead of God. Moses’ rod, God’s:52* Gideon’s sword, God’s:53* David’s throne, God’s. In His place they sit: His Person they represent: they are taken into the fellowship of the same name.54* Ego dixi, He hath said it, and we may be bold to say it after him,55* They are gods: and what would we more? Then must their enemies be God’s enemies. Let their enemies know then, they have to deal with God, not with them; it is His cause, rather than theirs: they, but His agents. It standeth Him in hand, it toucheth Him in honour. He can no less, than maintain them, than hold their enemies for His own.56* St. Paul is plain, “He that resisteth them, resisteth God:” he that the regal power, the divine ordinance.
The indictment was rightly framed, (in judgment of all writers,)57* though it were misapplied, Naboth maledixit Deo et Regi. Naboth did neither, therefore it was evil applied. But, if he had done the one, he had done the other; and so it was truly framed. Even as he in the New Testament framed his confession aright,58* “I have sinned against Heaven and against Thee.” For no man can trespass against a lawful superior, but withal he must do it against Heaven first; and so he must confess, if ever he have His pardon for it.
But, there is no more pregnant reason to prove, God’s enemies they be, these that rise against Kings, than this: ye shall observe still they are called the sons of Belial, Belial God’s professed enemy.59* Sheba is so called in express terms, in the next chapter save one, that rose up against David. And indeed, what was the drift of the first tentation, but only to have made Adam and Eve the adopted children of Belial, that is, to be under no yoke? not God’s; much less man’s: to brook no superior. They are all his by adoption, that carry such minds. It cannot otherwise be. And if it were the Spirit of God that fell on Amasa,60* when he said, “Thine are we O David, and on thy side thou son of Jesse;” what spirit could it be but of Belial, or whose son Sheba but his, that cried,61* “We have no part in David, nor any portion in the son of Jesse?” If it were the finger of God that touched their hearts that went after Saul, their lawful liege lord; whose claw must it be, the print whereof was in theirs who rose and went against him?62* Whose but Belial’s? Et quæ conventio Christi et Belial? Christ and Belial, so out, so at odds, that no hope of ever agreeing them. Now then being the sons of Belial; and they, and Belial their father, God’s enemies; make we any doubt, but we may say after the Holy Ghost, “So perish all Thine enemies, O Lord?”
The one might be enough. But there were three darts in Absalom’s heart: one would have served the turn: so this one would suffice; but I would cast yet a second and third at them. If then, secondly, we knew any that were not only hostis Dei, but hostis humani generis, would we yet doubt to pray he might be as Absalom? I trust not: especially, seeing we should therein but follow God’s own example. He curseth the serpent,63* even for this cause, that he was “enemy to the woman and all her seed,” and sought the utter ruin of both. Those that are such, well may all men pray against them; for at all men’s hands they well deserve it. Now thus reasoneth St. Paul. Rulers not only come from God, but they come from Him in particular;64* tibi in bonum, “for thy good,” whosoever thou art. “Thy good,” thou nobleman, thou gentleman, thou churchman, thou merchant, thou husbandman, thou tradesman. “Thy good:” that is, for our good they come, and are sent for all our good, for the general good of us all. Us all;65* nay,66* even of all mankind. Mankind should be as a forest, (saith Moses,) the strong beasts would devour the weak; as a fish-pool, (saith Habakkuk,) the great fish devour the small, were it not for these. Without these, mankind could not continue. They then, that are enemies to them, mankind’s enemies: and so of the serpent’s seed certainly, to be cursed with the serpent’s curse, conteratur caput eorum.
Now then, of this great monarchy of mankind, of the whole world, the several monarchies of the world are eminent parts. What the estate of Kings is, in the whole; that, is the person of every particular prince, in his several sovereignty: David, in his of Jewry; ours, in his of Great Britain; the health and safety of the kingdom, fast linked with the King’s health and safety.67* “The head of the tribes” (so is David called); “The light of Israel;”68* Tu pasces, “the shepherd of the flock;” “The corner-stone”69* of the building.70* I will content me with these. If the “head” be deadly hurt, I would fain know, what shall become of the body? If “the light” be put out, is aught but darkness to be looked for in Israel?71* “Smite the shepherd,” must not the flock be in peril? If “the corner-stone” be shaken, will not both the walls feel a wrack? Verily, all our weal and woe dependeth on their welfare or decay. Therefore bless we them; and they that bless them, be blessed; and they that set themselves against them, accursed, even with the capital curse, the serpent’s, all our enemy; as the first of all, so the chief of all, as from God’s own mouth.
To these two I add yet one more, and that by good warrant, both of the Old and New Testament. “Let them be confounded and turned backward,” (saith the Prophet,) “so many as have evil will at Sion.”72* Utinam abscindantur,73* (saith the Apostle,) qui vos conturbant. Against them well may we pray, that malign the peace and prosperity of the Church, in which, and for which, we and all the world to pray, as that, for which, all, world and all was made, and is still upholden: for were the Church once gathered, the world dissolves straight. God is too high, as for any our good, so for any our evil or enmity, to come near Him. He reckoneth of no enemies but His Church’s. They that persecute her persecute Him; they that touch her touch the apple of His eye. Now they that are enemies to David are enemies to Sion: so near neighbourhood between David and Sion, the King and the Church, as there is between his palace and the temple; both stand upon two tops of one and the same hill. The King is nutritius Ecclesiæ:74* if enemies to the nurse, then to the child; it cannot otherwise be. Experience teacheth it daily, when the child hath a good nurse, to take such a one away is but to expose the child to the evident danger of starving or pining away. I know not, men may entertain what speculations they will; but, sure, in praxi, how much the Church’s welfare hath gone by the good and blessed inclination of Kings,75* it is but too plain. Socrates long since truly observed it, in the beginning of the fifth book of his story. Consider me in the commonwealth of the Jews, these four Kings, immediately succeeding each the other, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. Consider these four emperors in the primitive Church; likewise in succession, Constantine, Constantius, Julian, and Jovinian. Consider me here at home the four last princes before his Majesty, and the waxing and waning, the alteration and alternation of religion, under them: forward and backward, backward and forward again; and tell me, whether the King and the Church have not reference, as I said; and whether the Church have any greater enemies than such as alien the minds of Kings, and make them heavy friends to her welfare and well-doing. Of such then, safely may we say,76* “Be they confounded, be they as the grass upon the house-top,” which withereth before hay-time: that is, let them come to untimely ends, let them be as Absalom; or, (as another Psalm wisheth such kind of people,) like them that “perished at Endor,77* and became like dung upon the earth.” So then, being God’s 1. enemies, 2. mankind’s, and the 3. Church’s; against the enemies of any one of these the prayer were warrantable: how much more against them, that are enemies to all three? One nail served Sisera, in his head; so would one spear Absalom, in his heart; but he had three: not without a meaning. A moral allusion they make of it: three were the faults he made, three the parties he highly offended, 1. God, 2. the State, 3. the Church. Enemy to all three: for every one, a dart. Each, deadly alone; but he had them all, to shew he deserved them all; and so they do, that sin Absalom’s sin. The prayer, sure, is good: Cushi prayed well: all are bound to say Amen to it.
But, besides that, it is a prayer, Let them be; it is a prophecy too, They shall be. The tenor of the prayer we have heard; let us see the success of the prophecy, what became of it: whether Cushi were a true Prophet, or no. So true, as, from Moses to Malachi, never any of the Prophets more true in his foretelling, than he in this. All the enemies, all that rose against him, erant sicut, were even so indeed.
Pity it is, but that a good prayer should be heard, and (as we said,) turn into the nature of a prophecy. They were three good prayers, we heard; there is none of all the three, but hath a prophecy, that so it should be, answering to the prayer, that so it might be. Against God’s enemies, the prayer, “So perish,”78* &c. The prophecy, “For lo Thine enemies, O Lord, lo Thine enemies shall perish;”79* as if he saw it with his eyes, called others to see it with him, pointed at it with his finger, lo, twice, once and again, (one lo not serve,) so sure he is, that so it shall be. 2. Against the enemies of mankind, the wish, “Cursed be thou above every beast of the earth,”80* the prophecy followeth in the neck of it, Ipse conteret caput, One there is “shall bruise his head” all to pieces. 3. Against the maligners of Sion,81* “Let them be confounded,” &c. that is the prayer: the kingdom or nation that shall malign Sion shall perish, and utterly be destroyed, there is the prophecy. Now that that is prophetical, in each of those, is no less verified in the King’s enemies, in whom they all meet.
Do but, after this prophecy, enquire what became of them: ask but the question. The King doth here in the forepart of the verse. “Is Absalom safe,” how doth he? He doth, as he deserveth to do. Ask, how the rest, that after rose against him. Within a chapter after, Sheba riseth; how did he? Before the end of the chapter,82* his head came over the wall. After him, Adonijah was up,83* and spake even broadly, Regnabo. What became of him?84* His end in blood. And, (that which is strange,) with him rose Joab, he that took off Sheba’s head, he that threw these darts; and he that was the true man here, how sped he? He was even drawn from the altar, (that is no sanctuary for traitors,) and executed by Benaiah.85* Could not take heed by Absalom’s example, but came to Absalom’s end. They all that sought, that rose to pluck him down, whom God had exalted,86* they were “slain, all the sort of them;” were all “as a tottering wall, or as a broken hedge,” which every man runs over.
But this judgment of God was in none more conspicuous than Absalom. A straight charge was given by the King himself, to have him saved: it would not serve, he was slain for all that. And slain by Joab: one, before, that had highly favoured him, and been a special means to restore him to grace; even by him was he slain, notwithstanding the King’s charge; and then slain, when he made full account of the victory. For, else he would have been better horsed. He was on his mule,87* now he never doubted the event, and yet was slain. Sure God’s hand was in it, to rid the world of a traitor.
Neither was this a peculiar prophecy to King David alone. The prayer is said, and the prophecy taketh hold of other, as well before,88* as since. Ask of Korah, he rose against Moses: how sped he?89* he went to hell quick for it. Ask of Baanah and Rechab, that rose against their lord: look over the pool of Hebron; there stand their quarters on poles. Ask of Bigthan and Teresh:90* what of them? Fairly hanged at the court-gate. Time will not serve, to enquire of all. The short is: all that were as Absalom came to his end. Some hanged, and their heart opened, being yet alive, (so was Absalom:) and their bowels plucked out,91* to make them like Judas.92* Some, their heads strucken off (so was Sheba). Some quartered, and their hands,93* feet, and head, set up on poles, that the ravens might pluck out their eyes, as Baanah and Rechab: that upon them might come all the punishments due to them that rise with Absalom. For all the punishments of traitors, as now they are in use with us, may seem to have been collected and drawn together from those several examples that stand in the book of God.
All to shew, that a King is Alkum,94* no rising against him: or, if any rise, he had better sit still. For, no sooner rise they up,95* but our Prophet straight crieth, “Rise up, rise up, and put on strength, thou arm of the Lord; rise up, as in old time, in the generations of the world.” Art not thou the same that didst smite Absalom by Joab? and art not thou the same that didst smite Joab by Benaiah?96* that settest thyself still to bring them down, that rise up against Alkum, against whom there is no rising?
For, Kings being from God,97* (saith Gamaliel,) we cannot set ourselves against them, but we must be found even θεομαχεῖν “to fight against God.” Being “ordained of God,” (saith Gamaliel’s scholar, St. Paul,)98* to resist them is to resist “the ordinance of God;” and as good put ourselves in the face of all the ordnance in the Tower of London, as withstand God’s ordinance. None might better say it, than he: it was told him from Heaven, when he was about such another business; persecuting Christ in his Church, (and Christ is persecuted in His chief members, as well as His inferior;) he was told plainly,99* in so doing, he did but “kick against the prick.” His heels might ache and run of blood; the prick not remove, but stand where it did still. Therefore, as here Cushi, in the Old,100* so St. Paul, in the New, falleth to prophesy. “They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation,” is St. Paul’s prophecy. And a true prophecy, even as was Moses’ of Korah, That they should not “die the death of other men,”101* but be visited with some strange extraordinary visitation; but have their end in blood. All, as Cushi prayed they might, and prophesied they should. And his prayer was heard, his prophecy came to pass, not a word of either fell to the ground.
Having now dealt with it as a prayer first; and then, as a prophecy; let us now see how it suited with the business in hand, and whether the force and vigour of these have reached to us and our times.
It is with God no new thing, this, to reward such as rise up against Kings. Of that which is with Him no new, but old, (as old as David, nay as Moses,) He giveth us new examples every otherwhile, to shew, His ear is still open to this prayer; and that His arm is stretched out to reach them still. Yea, I dare be bold to say, there is no one of His promises hath so many seals hanging at it, by way of confirmation of it, as this hath: no one, so many judgments upon record, as it. In every story of every land, there is still standing some gibbet or other, and their quarters hanging on it there still, to put us in mind of the truth of Cushi’s prophecy.
This very day yieldeth us one of fresh memory, (but seven years since,) wherein in our Sovereign God hath given a memorable example of the hearing Cushi’s prayer, and the accomplishing his prediction, not in one, but in a couple of Absaloms. A couple of Absaloms I may well term them: in many other points like him, but namely in these two: 1. like, in their rising; and 2. like, in their fall. For, that Absalom was a son, and these but subjects, it altereth not the case much. Sons and subjects are both under one commandment, as Pater and Rex both in one name, Abimelech, the name of the first Kings of Canaan. If under one, then under one curse.102* If they do but speak evil, under Moses’ curse, in mount Ebal;103* if but look upon them with a scornful eye, under Solomon’s curse, that the ravens pick those eyes out. The same,104* against a father, to reach much more to Abijam, Pater populi (so did Solomon name his nephew):105* Abijam, a father of Judah; even as Deborah was “a mother in Israel.” In a word,106* what Noah might wish to a bad son, (Ham,) and Elisha wish to a bad servant (Gehazi);107* no cause in the world, but Cushi might wish the same to a bad subject. All is one case. This then breeds no unlikeliness; and in all the rest, exceeding like.
“As that young man” (to keep the words of the text). For those were young men too. Their years, not many. Not many: nay, so few, so green, as it may well seem strange, that there could such inveterate malice and mischief be hatched in so young years. “As he,” in that, first.
As in years, so in malice; bloody-minded both. Said not Absalom to his assassins,108* “When I give you a sign, see you smite, kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you?” Said not they the same to him, whom, to that end, they had armed, and placed to do that wicked act? In that like, second.
As in this malicious bloody mind, so in raking it up, and keeping it close, divers years together. Not only, (as Absalom in this,) to say neither good nor bad; but in this too, to entreat the King, and all his company to their house: to entertain and feast him, and besides, promise and pretend I know not what, and all to cover and conceal their devilish intent. In this like, thirdly: this young man, and these.
And not in this kind only of outward dissembling; but in a worse kind of religious hypocrisy.109* He made a religious vow; it lay on his conscience, he could not be quiet, till he had got leave to go pay it; and then, even then, went he about all his villany. And was it not so here? He, so holy, as to a sermon he must needs; to God’s word; no remedy, he might not be from it in any wise: and that, when he trusted the deadly blow should have been given. In this, like.
And yet fifthly, the same man, like Absalom, when he was in Geshur. Absalom in Geshur, and this in Italy, as devout at his masses then, as he was here zealous for his exercise of the word. Alike at both, as they served his turn. Like in this too.
And last of all, in this too: that for all this goodly mask of religion, when he saw his treachery was discovered, as Absalom blew his trumpet,110* so he was content to uncase himself, and to rush forth, and appear for such as he was. In which act, he perished, as Absalom; got in his heart that Absalom got in his: only that was a dart, and this was a dagger.
For (sure) being thus like in their conditions, and in so many circumstances besides, pity but they should be like in their ends too: and they were. And, that so they were, is the matter of public gratulation of this day, of the day of the week all the year long: of this, the day itself, specially above all: that the prayer and prophecy of Cushi took place; his prayer heard, his prophecy fulfilled, no less in these young men, than in that; no less in the enemies of our King James, than in his lord King David.
In the treasons, little difference or none: in the delivery some difference; but all for the better. For first, in far greater peril was His Majesty, far greater than ever was David. 1. David was but pursued; but he was even caught, and within (I know not how many) locks and doors. 2. David was all the while without the reach of any blow: how near the blow was to his breast, it is able to make any man chill, but to think. 3. David had his worthies still about him; the King was in torculari solus,111* “in the very press alone,” et vir de gentibus, “and not one of his people” to stand by or assist him. 4. That David was delivered, it must be ascribed to the providence of God; but, in that it was a fought field, his army must take part of the praise. It was another manner of providence, that was shewed here; of a more near regard, of a more strange operation. I dare confidently affirm it, (I may well, I am sure,) God’s hand was much more eminent in this, than in that: praised be His name for it. 5. And last of all, David (here) heard of his delivery by Cushi. Ours saw it himself: and yet (I cannot tell well what to say), the danger was so great, and the fear must needs be accordingly, whether it had not been to be wished, that some Cushi had rather brought tidings of it, than he seen it himself. But since it pleased God, so from Heaven to shew Himself in it, (if ever He did in any,) and though with such fear, yet without any harm, dulcis laborum præteritorum memoria.
David heard his, segnius irritant;112* ours saw his, oculis subjecta fidelibus: the impression of joy was the greater, and did work both the stronger and the longer. The stronger, in a votive thanksgiving then undertaken: the longer, in the continual renewing it, not only from year to year, but from week to week all the year long.
And what shall we say then? What but as Ahimaaz before, at the twenty-eighth verse, “Blessed be the Lord his God, That hath this day given sentence for him, upon those that rose up against him.” And then, secondly, with Cushi, So be it to all the rest, as it was with these. Though it be to go into mount Ebal, let us not fear, God goeth before us, and saith it before us; let us not make danger, to go after, and to say after Him. 1. They be His enemies, so proved: say we boldly, “So perish all Thine enemies, O Lord.” 2. They be enemies of mankind, in being enemies to them, by whom order and peace is kept in mankind, and without whom there would in mankind be nought but confusion: the serpent’s curse be upon them, and let their heads be trod to pieces. 3. They be Sion’s malignant enemies: let them be “as grass upon the house-top,” as “those that perished at Endor, and became dung for the earth.” Let them be as stubble scattered, as wax melted, as smoke driven, no man can tell whither. Let them perish; perish, as Sisera, and Oreb, as Absalom. Jael’s hammer on their heads: Gideon’s axe on their necks: Joab’s dart in their hearts. One, nay three: one, for the enemies of God: another, for the enemies of mankind: a third, for the enemies of Sion. Let Cushi be both Priest and Prophet: this his prayer never return empty, this his prophecy never want success.113* And, “Let the King ever rejoice in Thy strength, O Lord; let him be exceeding glad of Thy salvation.” Ever thrust Thou back his enemies, and tread them down that rise up against him. Let their swords go through their own hearts,114* and their mischief light upon their own heads. Let his ear still hear his desire upon his enemies, and his eye still see the fall of the wicked that rise up against him. Be he as David; we as Cushi; they as Absalom. God, by Whom this prayer was allowed, receive and grant it! God, by Whom this prophecy was inspired, make it good, and fulfil it, as this day, so for ever! Even for ever and ever, for His Christ’s sake.
THE KING’S MAJESTY AT HOLDENBY,
on the fifth of august, a.d. mdcviii
1 Sam. 26:8, 9
Then said Abishai to David, God hath closed thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore, I pray thee, let me smite him once with a spear to the earth, and I will not smite him again.
And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not; for who can lay his hand on the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?
There is somebody here, in this text, in danger to be destroyed; and the party is “the Lord’s anointed,” King Saul. The matter is come to hard hold: “Destroy him,” and “Destroy him not.” Abishai would have it done: David at no hand; he cries, Ne perdas. But the end was, Saul was saved. Thus lieth the case here in the text.
And was not the very same the case of this day? There was somebody in as great danger to be destroyed, this day. It was Christus Domini, “God’s anointed,” here before us. The case was come to the very same plunge: Perdas, ne perdas; a king, or no king. Some were of Abishai’s mind. God was fain to supply David’s; there was none else. But blessed be God, all ended in Ne perdas. And again, blessed be God, Who then also verified the latter part of the verse, that none shall seek to lay hands on “the Lord’s anointed,” but they shall be found, and handled as guilty persons. For so they were; and their blood was upon their own heads. Both cases suiting so well, this text might well serve for this day.
There is, in the former verse, a motion made by Abishai for a blow at Saul, thus: “See,” &c. There be three perilous motives in it: 1. Inimicum, he is your enemy; 2. Conclusit, here is an opportunity; 3. Sine me, the act shall not be yours, let me alone, I will take it upon me.
There is, in the latter, David’s utter dislike of the motion, thus: “Destroy not,” &c. Wherein, first there is a double charge to the contrary: 1. One ad oculum, “Destroy him not;” 2. The other rising out of the reason, yet plain enough. He had said, “Destroy him not.” Not that; Quis enim misit manum? for, a less matter than that you may not do, not lay your hands, not so much: which is (as it were) a surcharge to the former; or (if I may so say,) a second edition of Ne perdas. No talk of destroying: so far from that, as no stirring the hand toward it.
1. Then upon this double charge, followeth a double reason; two retentives (as it were) against the first motion. 1. He is “the Lord’s anointed:” that may stay you, if you be a good subject.
2. Be you good subject or no, if that will not, this must; You shall not be “guiltless.” If not “guiltless,” then guilty: and what becomes of them that be guilty, we all know. That is, Do it not; if you do, it shall bring you to Guilty or not guilty. If you lay your hand, you shall hold up your hand for it: it is as much as your life is worth.
3. Thirdly, it is not indeed, Non eris insons. For, if it had been so, it might have been thought to have reached to Abishai, to this particular, and no further. But he chose rather to utter it by Quis? For by asking, Quis? “Who” shall? he plainly implieth Ne quis unquam, that none ever may: not he, not Abishai; nay, not any. So there is a double charge: 1. “Destroy not,” 2. “lay not your hand.” A double retentive: 1. He is “God’s anointed;” 2. You shall not be “guiltless;” 3. and a Quis upon all, to bind all, and to shew, the charge is general without exception.
1. In all which, there is a protection for Saul the first King, and all after him, not only from perditio, ‘destroying,’ giving of the blow; but from missio manûs, ‘stirring of the hand.’
2. There is a neck-verse for Abishai, and all undertakers in that kind: they are all cast, they are all found guilty ere they come to the bar; they are attainted, every one.
3. There is an Euge for David, who sheweth himself through all. 1. In his charge, “Destroy not,” a good subject; 2. in his reason, He is “God’s anointed,” a good Divine; 3. in his sentence, Non eris insons, a good judge: 4. in his challenge, Quis mittet? a stout champion, to any that shall maintain the contrary.
4. But for that, besides this reason in the text, of inimicum tuum, there have been other reasons framed in our days, to the same end; and all of them in Saul, the party in the text: we will take them in too, to rule this case once for all. For Saul’s case will be found to have in it all that can be alleged, why any king should be, if any king might be touched. All, I say, will be found in him. But he, for all them, may not be touched: therefore none may.
5. And this done, we will come, as the duty of the day requireth, to lay these cases, case to case; ours of the day, to this in the text. Where we shall see, that we have as great cause: nay, of the twain, the greater cause of gratulation, for the happy Ne perdas of this day.
This is Abishai’s motion. There be three motives in it: 1. The party is your enemy; 2. God hath sent you opportunity; 3. I will take it upon me. Enmity makes us willing to take revenge; opportunity, able; and if another will do the act, the rather for that; for then we shall bear no blame. Three shrewd motives, where they meet: and here they meet all in one. Let us weigh them: which I do the more willingly, because all three meet also in this day’s attempt. 1. Enmity, that was the colour, an old wrong: so, there were in both the same pretence. 2. And the same advantage in both. For the King was shut up indeed, and that literally. 3. And he that was at Church, he should not have done it, not he. Abishai should have done it, he in the chamber. Of these motives then.
He is an enemy. But not every enemy is to be destroyed, but they that would destroy us. All enmity is not deadly feud. Saul’s was; nothing would serve him but David’s life; and many ways he sought it indirectly. 1. By matching him with his own daughter,115* and laying on him, for a dowry, so many foreskins of the Philistines,116* so he might fall by their hands. 2. That would not do: he went to it directly: 1. at three several times cast his javelin at him,117* to have nailed him to the wall.118* 2. When he escaped him so, then gave he express charge openly to all men to kill him, wherever they met him. 3. When that would not be, sent to his house for him:119* when word came, he was sick in his bed, bade bring him, bed and all, that he might see him slain in his own presence. Was there ever the like? who would not have been quit of such an enemy?