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business of our life, and in which we ought to take most delight, is the issue of peace. War breaks all that order, interrupts all that devotion, and even extinguisheth all that zeal, which peace had kindled in us, lays waste the dwelling-place of God as well as of man; and introduces and propagates opinions and practice, as much against heaveh as against earth, and erects a deity that delights in nothing but cruelty and blood. Are we pleased with the enlarged commerce and society of large and opulent cities, or with the retired pleasures of the country? do we love stately palaces, and noble houses, or take delight in pleasant groves and woods, or fruitful gardens, which teach and instruct nature to produce and bring forth more fruits, and flowers, and plants, than her own store can supply her with? all this we owe to peace; and the dissolution of this peace disfigures all this beauty, and in a short time covers and buries all this order and delight in ruin and rubbish. Finally, have we any content, satisfaction, and joy, in the conversation of each other, in the knowledge and understanding of those arts and sciences, which more adorn mankind, than all those buildings and plantations do the fields and grounds on which they stand? even this is
the blessed effect and legacy of peace; and
and peaceable natures are most capable of
Christian precepts, and most affected with them) but kings and princes themselves.St. Paul knew well, that the peaceable inclinations and dispositions of subjects could do little good, if the sovereign princes were disposed to war; but if they desire to live peaceably with their neighbours, their subjects cannot but be happy. And, the pleasure that God himself takes in that temper, needs no other manifestation, than the promise our Saviour makes to those who contribute towards it, in his sermon upon the mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” Matt. v. 9. Peace must needs be very acceptable to him, when the instruments towards it are crowned with such a
full measure of blessing; and it is no hard matter to guess whose children they are, who take all the pains they can to deprive the world of peace, and to subject it to the rage and fury and desolation of war. If we had not the woful experience of so many hundred years, we should hardly think it possible, that men who pretend to embrace the gospel of peace, should be so unconcerned in the obligation and effects of it; and when God looks upon it as the greatest blessing he can pour down upon the heads of those who please him best, and observe his commands, “I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid,” Lev. xxvi. 6, that men study nothing more than how to throw off and deprive themselves and others of this his precious bounty; as if we were void of natural reason, as well as without the elements of religion: for nature itself disposes us to a love of society, which cannot be preserved without peace. A whole city on fire is a spectacle full of horror, but a whole kingdom on fire must be a prospect much more terrible; and such is every kingdom in war, where nothing flourishes but rapine, blood, and murder, and the faces of all men are pale and ghastly, out of the sense of what they have done, or of what they have suffered, or are to endure. The reverse of all this is peace, which in a moment extinguishes all that fire, binds up all the wounds, and restores to all faces their natural vivacity and beauty. We cannot make a more lively representation and emblem to ourselves of hell, than by the view of a kingdom in war; where there is nothing to be seen but destruction and fire, and the discòrd itself is a great part of the torment: nor a more sensible reflection upon the joys of heaven, than as it is all quiet and peace, and where nothing is to be discerned but consent and harmony, and what is amiable in all the circumstances of it. And as far as we may warrantably judge of the inhabitants of either climate, they who love and cherish discord among men, and take delight in war, have large mansions provided for them, in that region of faction and disagreement; as we may presume, that they who set their hearts upon peace in this world, and labour to promote it in their several stations amongst all men, and who are instruments to prevent the breach of it amongst princes and states, or to renew it when it is broken, have infallible title to a place and mansion in heaven; where there is only peace in that perfection, that all other blessings are comprehended in it, and a part of it.
XXII. OF SACRILEGE.
On a Fast-day at Jersey, 1641,
The original and ground of the first institution of fasts and solemn days of humiliation, was to-deprecate God's judgment, and to remove some heavy afflictions either actually brought upon or immediately threatened by him upon that people; and in order thereunto to make a faithful inquisition into all sins, and to enter into a covenant against those which seem to be most cordially embraced by us, and consequently the most likely causes of the present calamities we groan under: so that though every act of devotion should raise in us a detestation of all sins whatsoever, yet as a particular fast is commonly for the removal of a particular judgment, so the devotion of that day will not be too much circumscribed and limited, if it be intent upon the inquisition into the nature and mischief of one particular sin, and in the endeavour to raise up some fence and fortification that that sin may not break in upon us; especially if it be such a one, as either our own inclinations, or the iniquity and temper of the time in which we live, is like to invite us to. If the business of our fasts be only to inveigh and pray against the