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Yet herein shall we make an advantage of our foulest sins, that they give so much more lustre to the glorious mercies of our God, who overcomes our evil with good, and loads even us.
The over-long interruption of favours loseth their thanks; and the best benefits languish in too much disuse. Our God takes order for that, by a perpetuation of beneficence: he loadeth us daily. Every day, every minute renews his favours upon us: Semper largitor, semper donator; as Jerome. To speak strictly, there is no time present: nothing is present, but an instant; and that can no more be called Time, than a prick can be called a line: yet how swift soever the wings of time are, they cannot cut one instant, but they must carry with them a successive renovation of God's gracious kindness to us.
This sun of his doth not rise once in an age, or once in a year; but, every minute since it was created, riseth to some parts of the earth, and erery day to us. Neither doth he once hurl down upon our heads some violent drops in a storm, but he plies us with the sweet showers of the former and the latter rain: wherein the mercy of God condescends to our impotency, who are ready to perish under uncomfortable intermissions. Non mihi sufficit, saith that Father; “ It is not enough that he hath given me once, if he give me not always.” To-day's ague makes us forget yesterday's health. Former meals do not relieve our present hunger. This cottage of ours ruins straight, if it be not new daubed every day; new repaired: the liberal care of our God therefore tiles over one benefit with another, that it may not rain through.
And if he be so unwearied in his favours, why are we weary of our thanks? Our bonds are renewed every day to our God; whiy not our payments ? Not once in a year, or moon, or week, but every day once, without fail, were the Legal sacrifices reiterated; and that, of all those creatures which were necessary for sustentation; a lamb, flower, wine, oil; that is, meat, bread, drink, sauce: why? but that, in all these, we should still daily re-acknowledge our new obligations to the Giver? Yea, ex plenitudine et lacrymis, as it is in the Original; Exod. xxii. 29: of our plenty and lears; that is, as Cajetan, of a dear or cheap year must we return: more or less may not miss our thanks. We need daily; we beg daily, Give us this day; we receive daily: why do we not daily retribute to our God; and act, as some read it, Blessed be the Lord daily, who loadeth us with his benefits?
3. It is time now to turn. your eyes to that mixed respect, that reacheth both to God and Us. Ye have seen him a Benefactor, see him a SAVIOUR and DELIVERER; The God of our Salvation.
The Vulgate's salutaria, following the Septuagint, differs from our Salvation but as the means from the end. With the Hebrews Salvation is a wide word, comprising all the favours of God, that may tend to preservation; and therefore the Psalmist elsewhere extends this act both to man and beast; and, as if he would comment upon himself, expounds owrov save, by tuodwrov prosper; Psalm cxviii. 25. It is so dear a title of God, that the Prophet
cannot have enough of it: the interposition of a Selah cannot bar the redoubling of it in my Text.
Every deliverance, every preservation fathers itself upon God: yet, as the soul is the most precious thing in the world, and life is the most precious thing that belongs to the soul, and eternal life is the best of lives, and the danger and loss of this life is the fearfullest and most horrible; chietly is this greatest Salvation here meant, wherein God intends most to bless and be blessed.
Of this Salvation is he the God by preordination, by purchase, - by gift: by Preordination; in that he hath decreed it to us from eternity; apoaspire; Rom. viii. 30: by Purchase; in that he hath bought it for us, and us to it, by the price of his blood; siyopáo Inte; 1 Cor. vi. 20: by Gift; in that he hath feoft us in it; cópiouce ei; The gift of God is eternal Life; Rom. vi. 23. Since therefore he decreed it, he bought it, he bestows it, justly is he The God of our Salvation.
Who can, who dares arrogate to himself any partnership in this great work? What power can dispose of the soul's final condition, but the same that made it? Who can give eternity, but he that only hath it? What but an infinite merit can purchase an infivite glory? Cursed be that spirit, that will offer to share with his Maker. Down with your crowns, O ye Glorious Elders, at the foot of him that sits on the throne, with a Non nobis, Domine; Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy Name give the praise. Away with the proud encroachment of the merits of the best saints; of papal largesses. Only our God is the God of our Salvation.
How happy are we the while! All actions are according to the force of the agent: weak causes produce feeble effects; contingent, casual; necessary, certain. Our Salvation therefore, being the work of an infinitely-powerful cause, cannot be disappointed. Lo the beauty of Solomon's Dips; Prov. xxx. 31. N'ho hath resisted his will ? When we look to our own fleshy hands, here is nothing but discouragement; when we look to our spiritual enemies, here is nothing but terror: but, when we cast up our eyes to the Mighty God, here is nothing but confidence, nothing but comfort.
Comfort ye, comfort ye therefore, Oye Feeble Souls; and send your bold defiances to the Prince of Darkness. Heaven is high and hard to reach, Hell is steep and slippery, our Flesh is earthy and impotent, Satan strong and raucorous, Sin subtle, the World alluring; all these: yet, God is the God of our Salvation.
Let those infernal Lions roar and ramp upon us; let the gates of Hell do their worst; let the World be a cheater, our Flesh a traitor, the Devil a tyrant; Faithful is he that hath promised, who will also do it. God is the God of our Salvation.
How much more then in these outward temporal occasions, when we have to do with an arm of flesh! Do the enemies of the Church rage, and snuff, and breathe nothing but threats and death? Make sure of our God: he shall be sure to make them lick our dust. Great Benhadad of the Syrians shall come with his hempen collar to the King of Israel. The very winds and waves shall undertake those Mahometan or Marian powers, that shall rise up against the inheritance of the God of Salvation.
Salvation is rateable, according to the danger from which we are delivered. Since Death therefore is the utmost of all terribles, needs must it be the highest improvement of Salvation, that to our God belong the issues from Death. Death hath here a double latitude; of kind, of extent: the kind is either temporal or eternal; the extent reaches not only to the last complete act of dissolution, but to all the passages that lead towards it. Thus the issues from death belong to our God, whether by way of preservation, or by way of rescue.
How gladly do I meet in my Text with the dear and sweet name of our Jesus, who conquered death by dying, and triumphed over hell by suffering, and carries the keys both of death and hell; Rev. i. 18! He is the God, the Author and Finisher of our Salvation, to whom belong the issues from death..
Look first at the Temporary. He keeps it from us: he fetches us from it.
It is true, there is a Statutum est upon it: die we must: death knocks equally at the hatch of a cottage and gate of a palace: But our times are in God's hand: the Lord of Life hath set us our period; whose Omnipotence so contrives all events, that neither enemy, nor casualty, nor disease can prevent his hour. Were death suffered to run loose and wild, what boot were it to live? now it is tethered up short by that Almighty Hand, what can we fear? If envy repine, and villainy plot against Sacred Sovereignty, God hath well proved upon all the poisons, and pistols, and poniards, and gun-powders of the two late memorable successions, that to him alone belong the issues from death. Go on then, Blessed Sovereign, go on courageously in the ways of your God. The invisible guard of heaven shall secure your royal head. The God of our Salvation shall make you a third glorious instance to all posterities, that unto him belong the issues from death.
Thus God keeps death from us: it is more comfort yet, that he fetches us from it. Even the best head must at last lie down in the dust, and sleep in death. O vain cracks of valour! thou braggest thyself able to kill a man: a worm hath done it; a fly hath done it. Every thing can find the way down unto death: none but the Omnipotent can find the way up out of it. He finds, he makes these issues for all his. As it was with our Head, so it is with the members. Death might seize, it cannot hold. Gustavit, non deglutivit : “ It may nibble at us, it shall not devour us.” Behold the only sovereign antidote agairist the sorrows, the frights of death. Who can fear to lay himself down and take a nap in the bed of death, when his heart is assured that he shall awake glorious in the morning of his resurrection ? Certainly, it is only our infidelity, that makes death fearful. Rejoice not over me, 0 my
last enemy: though I fall, I shall rise again. O Death, where is ihy sting? 0 Grave, where is thy victory?
Cast ye one glance of your eyes upon the Second and Eternal Death; the issues wherefroin belong to our God; not by way of rescue, as in the former, but of preservation. Ex inferno nulla redemplio, is as true as if it were canonical. Father Abraham tells the dainned Glutton in the Parable, there is péya gárult, a great gulph, that bars ail return. Those black gates of hell are barred without, by the irreversible decree of the Almighty. Those bold Fabulists therefore, whose impious legends have devised Trajan fetched thence by the prayers of Gregory, and Falconella hy Tecla's, suspending the final sentence upon a secundum præsenter injustiliam, take a course to cast themselves into that pit, whence they have presumptuously feigned the deliverance of others.
The rescue is not more hopeless, then the prevention is com: fortable. There is none of us, but is naturally walking down to these chambers of death : every sin is a pace thitherwards: only the gracious hand of our God stays us. In ourselves, in our sins, we are already no better than brands of that hell. Blessed be the God of our Salvation, that hath found happy issues from this death. What issues? Even those bloody issues, that were made in the hands, and feet, and side of our Blessed Saviour. That invaluablyprecious blood of the Son of God is that, whereby we are redeemed, whereby we are justified, whereby we are saved. Oh, that our souls might have had leisure to dwell a while, upon the meditation of those dreadful torments, we are freed from; of that infinite goodness, that hath freed us; of that happy exchange of a glorious condition, to which we are freed!
But the public occasion of this day calls off my speech, and invites me to the celebration of the sensible mercy of God, in our late temporal deliverance.
Wherein, let me first bless the God of our Salvation, that hath put it into the heart of his chosen servant to set up an altar in this sacred threshing-floor, and to offer up this day's sacrifice to his name, for the stay of our late mortal contagion. How well it becomes our Gideon to be personally exemplary, as in the beating of this earthen pitcher in the first public act of Humiliation; so in the lighting of this torch of public joy, and sounding the trumpet of a thankful Jubilation! and how well it become us to follow so pious, so gracious an example! Come, therefore, all ye that fear the Lord, and let us recount what he hath done for our souls. Come, let us bless the Lord, the God of our Salvation, that loadeth us daily with benefits; the God, to who belong the issues of death. Let us bless him, in his infinite Essence and Power; bless him, in his unbounded and just Sovereignty; bless him, in his marvellous Beneficence, large, continual, undeserved; bless him, in his Preservations; bless him, in his Deliverances. We may but touch at the two-last.
How is our earth ready to sink under the load of his mercies! What nation under heaven hath not envied and wondered at our blessings? I do not carry back your eyes to the ancient favours of our God, to the memorable frustrations of foreign invasions, to the miraculous discoveries of treasons, to the successful maintenance of oppressed neighbourhood. That one mercy I may not forget, that in the shutting up of blessed Queen Elizabeth, the Pope and the then King of Spain, were casting lots for the crown, and palpably plotting for their severally-designed successors; as appears in the public posthume Letters of Cardinal D'Ossat, a witness beyond exception. Three several Briefs were addressed hither by that inclement shaveling of Rome, for the defeating of the Title and Succession of our late sovereign of dear and blessed memory, and his royal issue. Yet, in spite of Rome and Hell, God brought him in, and set him peaceably upon this just throne of his forefathers; and may he perpetuate it to the fruit of those loins, till world and time shall be no more! Amen.
If I must follow the times, let me rather balk that hellish sulphurmine, than not search it; and yet, who can look at that, any otherwise than the Jews do at the rainbow, with horror and astonishment? What do I tell you of our long peace, our full plenty, our wholesome laws, our easeful
' government; with a world of these common favours ? It is for poor men to reckon. Those two late blessings, if no more, were worthy of immortal memory; the Prince out of Spain, Religion out of the dust. For the one; what a winter was there in all good hearts, when our sun was gone so far southward! how cheerful a spring in his return! For the other; who saw not how Religion began, during those purposely-protracted treaties, to droop and languish, her friends to sigh, her enemies to insult; daring to brave us with challenges, to threaten our ruin? The Lord looked down from Heaven, and visited this poor vine of his; and hath shaken off these caterpillars from her then-wasting leaves: now we live, and it flourisheth.
These would have been great favours of God, even to the best nations; but more to us, who have answered mercies with rebellions. O God, if proud disguises, if gluttonous pamperings, if drunken healths, if wanton dalliances, if bloody oaths, if merciless oppressions may earn blessings from thee, too many of us have supererogated. Woe is me! these are the measures thou hast had from too many hands. That thou shouldest therefore enlarge thy bounty to an unworthy, unkind, disobedient generation, it is more than we can wonder at; and we could almost be ready to say Peter, Lord, depart froin us, for we are sinful men.
Yet the wise justice of the Almighty meant not to cocker us up with mere dainties, with a loose indulgence; but hath thought fit to temper our sweets with tartness, and to strike our backs while he strokes our beads. Ecce in pace amaritudo amarissima : the comfort of our peace was allayed with the bitterness of death. He saw, that, in this common plethory, it was fit for us to bleed: he saw us eels, that would not be caught, but when the waters were troubled: he therefore sent his destroying angel abroad, who laid about him on all sides.
What slaughter, what lamentation, what horror was there in the streets of our mother city! More then twenty thousand families run from their houses, as if those had been on fire over their