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of lust, and by little and little wasting it away, as fire doth water.
The grand instrument of Satan and lust (who are the two leaders in this war against Christ) is the wicked world: the power, malice, wisdom, learning, or any other, either natural or acquired abilities of evil men: for even, in an earthly respect, by the word 'kings,' we are not only to understand those monarchs and princes of the earth, who set themselves against Christ; but all such as excel in any such worldly abilities, as may further that opposition. It notes the strength, policy, pride, and greatness of mind, or scorn of subjection, which is in the heart against Christ. So that king here stands in opposition to subject : they who reject Christ's yoke, and break his bonds asunder, and will not have him to reign over them, those are the kings in the text. And these also will he smite through, and confound by the power of his Word and the strength of his arm. “The Lord gave the Word: great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did fee apace, and she that tarried at home, divided the spoil 9.” “ Tophet is prepared of old, for the king it is prepared.” "Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great 5,” &c. “As for mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither and slay them before met.” “Be wise now, ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling; kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little u." Thus the Lord overthroweth his church's enemies, and protecteth it against all their greatest preparations, and most formidable power.
And this he doth several ways: sometimes by diverting their forces from his church into some other necessary channel, or ambitious design of their own. Thus Rabshakeh and his host were called from Judah *. So the Lord promised
9 Psal. Ixviii. 11, 12. r Isai. xxx. 33. s Rev. xix. 17, 18. xix. 27. u Psal. ii. 10, 11, 12. * 2 Kings xix, 7, 8.
his people, that when they went up to appear before him thrice a year, he would divert the desires of their enemies from their land y. Thus Julian the apostate, having but two main plots to honour (as he supposed) his government and his idols withal—the subduing of the Persian, and the rooting out of the Galileans, as he called them,-was prevented from this, by being first overthrown in the other: for the prosperous success of which expedition he vowed unto his idol-gods a sacrifice of all the Christians in the empire, as Gregory Nazianzen ? relateth.-Sometimes by infatuating and implanting a spirit of giddiness and distraction in the enemies of his church, making them destitute both of counsel and courage. When God would punish Babylon (which is a type of the enemies of Christ's kingdom) he made their hearts melt, that they should be amazed at one another, and “ their faces should be like flames a:" that is, not only pale, like a flame, but rather, as I conceive, full of variety of fearful impressions and distracted passions: nothing so tremulous, so various, so easily bended every way with the smallest blast, as a flame : so their fear should make their blood and spirits in their faces to tremble, quiver, and vary, to come and go like a thin flame in them; so God threateneth “to mingle a perverse spirit,” to make the spirit of Egypt fail in them, and their wisdom to perish b. And thus likewise the Lord dealt with Julian in that Persian expedition : he put a spirit of folly in him to burn his ships, and so to put a necessity of courage in his people, as the old Gauls did against Cæsard, and then to leave them all destitute of necessary relief.-Sometimes by ordering casualties, and
particular emergences for the deliverance of his church; a thing wonderfully seen in the histories of Joseph and Esther. Thus as a man, by a chain made up of several links, some of gold, others of silver, others of brass, iron, or tin, may be drawn out of a pit; so the Lord, by the concurrence of several unsubordinate things, which have no manner of dependence or natural coincidency amongst themselves, hath oftentimes wrought the deliverance of his church, that it might appear to be the work of his own hand. Sometimes by ordering and arming natural causes to defend his church, and to amaze the enemy. Thus the stars in their courses, are said to fight against Sisera . A mighty wind from Heaven, beating on their faces, discomfited them, as Josephus reports. So the Christian armies under Theodosius against Eugenius the tyrant, were defended by winds from Heaven, which snatched away their weapons out of their hands; to make good that promise, “No weapon that is formed against thee, shall prosper.”
y Exod. xxxiv. 24. 2 Greg. Naz. Orat. 4. in Julian. 2. a Isai. xiii. 7,8. b Isai. xix. 1, 2, 3, 14, 17. c Theodoret. Hist. lib. 3. cap. 20. Orat. 4. Cæsar, Comm. lib. 1.
So the Lord slew the enemies of Joshua with hailh. And thus the Moabites were overthrown, by occasion of the sun shining upon the water i.-Sometimes by implanting fantasies and frightful apprehensions into the minds of the enemy, as into the Midianites ", and the Assyrians! Thus the Lord caused a voice to be heard in the temple, before the destruction of Jerusalem, warning the faithful to go out of the city ".-Sometimes by stirring up and prospering weak and contemptible means, to show his glory thereby. The Medes” and Persians were an effeminate and luxurious people ; Cyrus a mean prince, for he was not at this time emperor of the Medes or Persians, but only sonin-law to Darius or Cyaxares; and yet these are made instruments to overthrow that most valiant people, the Babylonians'. As Jeremiah P was drawn out of the dungeon by old rotten rags, which were thrown aside as good for nothing; so the Lord can deliver his church by such instruments as the enemies thereof, before, would have looked upon with scorn, as upon cast and despicable creatures. For God, as he useth to infatuate those whom he will destroy ; so he doth guide with a spirit of wonderful wisdom, those whom he raiseth to defend his kingdom. The Babylonians 9 were feasting, and counted their city impregnable, being fortified with walls and the great river; and God gave wisdom beyond the very conjectures of men, to attempt a business which might seem unfeasible in nature, to dry up Euphrates, and divide it into several small branches : and so he made a way to bring his army into the city while they were feasting, the
• Judges v. 20. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. 1. 5. c. 6. 8 Aug. de Civ. Dei. I. 5.
h Josh, xi, ll. i 2 Kings ii. 22, 23. k Judges vii. 13, 14. 1 2 Kings vii. 6. m Euseb. 1. 3. c. 8. v Brisson, de Reg. Pers. lib. 2. o Isaj. xlv. 1, 13. iii. 17. P Jer. xxxviii. 11. 9 Herodot. lib. 1.-Xenoph. de expedit. Cyri, lib. 7.
gates thereof being in great confidence and security left open". -Sometimes by turning the hearts of others to compassionate the church, to hate the enemies, and not to help them, but to rejoice when he is sinking?:-Sometimes by the immediate stroke of God upon their bodies or consciences. Thus God gave the church rest by smiting Herod. Thus Maximinus“, being smitten with a horrible and stinking disease in his bowels, confessed that it was Christ which overcame him; and Julian, being smitten with an unknown blow from Heaven, as is supposed, confessed that Christ was too hard for him ; and another Julian, uncle to the apostate, for pissing on the Lord's table, had his bowels rotted, and his excrements issued out, ‘non per secessum, sed per vulnera,' as the same historian reports. Sometimes by tiring them quite out, and making them, for very vexation and successlessness, give over their vain attempts; or else disheartening them, that they may not begin them. So Dioclesian retired to a private life, because he could not root out the Christians; and Julian was afraid to persecute the Christians, as his predecessors had done, lest they should thereby increase : he forbore it out of envy, and not out of mercy, as Nazianzen * observes. Sometimes by turning their own devices upon their heads, ruining them with their own counsels, and, it may be, despatching them with their own hands. Thus the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, in the huge host of the Midianites y. So Pilate and Nero, the one the murderer of Christ, the other the dedicator of all the consequent great persecutions,-both died by their own hands, as being most wicked and most cruel, and therefore fittest to revenge the cause of Christ and his people upon themselves. Th God did not only curse the counsel, but revenge the treason, of Ahithophel, by an act of the most desperate folly and inhumanity which could be committed.-Sometimes by hardening them unto a most desperate prosecution of their own ruin, as in the case of Pharaoh ; suffering them to lift at the stone so long, till it loosen, and fall upon them.
r Isai. xliv. 27, 28. xlv. l. Jer. li. 36. * Isai. xiv. 6, 10, 16. Nahum ii. 7. t Acts xii. 23, 24. u Fuseb. de vita Constant. lib. 1. cap. 50.-Theodor. lib. 3. cap. 20. vid. Tertul. contr. Scapulam cap. 3. ct Laurent. de la Barr.—Euseb. Hist. lib. 8. cap. 26. et Zonaras. : * Naz. Orar. 3. in Julian. I. ♡ Judges vii. 22. 2 Tertul. Apolog cap. 5.- Euseb. lib. 2. cap. 7. * Zech. xii 3. Matth. xxi. 44. • Exod. xii. 35, 36. c Isai. xxvii. 4, 6. f Zech. ix, 10. & Deut. xx. 10, 11, 12. xix. 27.
Sometimes by ingratiating the church with them to their own destruction, as he did Israel with the Egyptians ". By these, and a world the like means, doth the Lord overthrow the enemies of his kingdom.
Now all this is “ in the day of his wrath,” or in his own due time: where we may note by the way, That Christ hath wrath in him as well as mercy. Though he be, by wicked and secure men, misconceived, as if he were only compassionate ; yet 'læsa patientia fit furor,' he will more sorely judge them hereafter, whom he doth not by persuasions and allurements prevail with here. So merciful he is, that he is called 'a Lamb' for meekness; and yet so terrible, that he is called “a Lion' for fury. It is true, “ fury is not in him," namely, to those that apprehend his strength, and make their peace with him : but yet to those that will not kiss, that is, not love, worship, nor obey him, he can with a little wrath show himself very terribled. He cometh first with peace ® ; but it is 'pax concessa,' not pax emendicata,' a peace mercifully offered, not a peace growing out of any necessity or exigences on, his part, and so wrought by way of composition for his own advantages. The peace of a conqueror': A peace which putteth conditions to those to whom it is granted, that they shall be tributaries and servants unto him . Therefore the apostle saith, that he came “ to preach” or to proclaim "peace h;" but if we reject it, he then follows the directions of Joshua, “ These mine enemies which would not have me to reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me.”
But the main thing here to be noted is, That Christ hath a day, a apobeduía, a prefixed and constituted time, wherein he will be avenged on the greatest of his enemies. When he förbears, and suffers them to prevail, yet still he holdeth the line in his own hand; the hook of his decree is in their nostrils, and he can take them short, when he will. It is never want of power, wisdom, or love to his church, that their quarrel is not presently revenged; but all these are fitted to his greater glory. The Lord seemeth to neglect, to break up the hedge, to sleep while his church is sinking, as Christ
d Psalm ii. 12.
Ephes. ii. 17.
e Luke x. 5.