« ZurückWeiter »
you; Mihi perfacile est, &c. “It is easy for me,” saith Uldes in the story,“ to destroy all the earth that the sun looks upon:" but, when God takes you to task, what toys, what nothings ye are! Behold, we come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts. It is he, that shall rebuke and scatter you.
He will do it: but he will do it upon OUR PRAYERS. Not that our poor petitions can put mercy into God, who is infinitely careful for the good of his Church, above all possible reaches of our desires; but that we may be raised up to a meet capacity of mercy. God cannot hate his enemies, or love his own, ever the more upon our entreaties; yet he will be sued to, for the particular effects of both, if ever we look to taste of his mercy in either. If we have not a heart to pray, God hath not a hand to help. So did God hate Amalek, that he commanded it to be rooted out of the earth; so did he love Israel, as the apple of his eye: yet, unless Moses hold up his hand, Amalek shall prevail against Israel. These are our best, our surest weapons, even our Prayers; and, blessed be God, that hath put it into the heart of his Anointed, to seek his face in these powerful Humiliations. We sought him against the Pestilence; and prevailed almost miraculously against that destroying angel: why should we not hope to find him against unseasonable Clouds; against the opposite powers of Flesh and Blood?
Here is your safety, here is your assurance of victory, () ye Great Princes and Potentates of the Earth: if ye trust to the arm of flesh, it will fail you. Let your navies be never so well rigged and manned: let your forces be never so strong and numberless : let them have not only hands and feet, that is, horsemen and foota men; but a bulk of body too, that is, full substance of wealthy provision, as the word of Flaminius was: let your counsel be vigilant, your munition ready, your troops trained and valiant: Yet, if there be not devotion enough in our bosom to make God ours, in vain shall we hope to stand
before our enemies. This only, whiusoever the profane heart of atheous men may imagine, this is the great ordnance, which can batter down the walls of our enemies, yea the very black
gates of hell itself; in comparison whereof, all human powers are but paper-shot. Yea, this is that petard, which only can blow open the gates of heaven, and fetch down victory upon our heads, and make us another Thundering Legion.
What is it, that made us so happily successful in Eighty Eight, beyond all hope, beyond all conceit; but the fervency of our humble devotions? That Invincible Navy came on dreadfully; floating like a moving wood in the sight of our coast: those vast vessels were as so many lofty castles raised on those liquid foundations: then straight, as if those huge bottoms had been stuft with tempests, there was nothing but thunder and lightning and smoke, and all the terrible apparitions of death. We, what did we? we fought upon our knees, both prince and people. Straight, God fought for us from heaven. Our Prayers were the gale, yea the gust, that tore those mis-consecrated flags and sails; and scattered and drenched those presumptuous piles; and sent them into the bottom of the deep, to be a parlour for whales and sea-monsters. There lay the Pride of Spain, the Terror of England. And is the hand of our God shortened? Is he other than what he was? We may be, as we are, weakened and effeminated by a long, luxurious peace: our God is yesterday, and to day, and the same for ever. If we be not wanting to him in our Prayers, he cannot be wanting to our Protection.
Look up to him, O Dear Christians, that is the God of our Salvation. Behold, the Lions out of their reeds, the Bulls out of their forests, and these in-banded multitudes conspire against us; and the misled Calves of the people are apt enough to back their attempts. Neither is this a fair hostility: our enemies are those, that hate peace, and delight in war; offering insolent provocations to our State, in dis-inheriting part of the Royal Issue, violating their faiths, maintaining their unjust affronts, ambitiously aspiring to undue sovereignty. What shall we then do? O put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, whose breath is in their nostrils. O put not your trust, ye Princes and Peers, in your sword, in your boze; in your powers and confederacies. Trust only to the great God of Hosts, who alone can but blow upon all the proudest preparations of your eneniies, and scatter them to the lowest hell. Come to him in your humble devotions, with an increpa and Dissipa; he shall soon make your enemies to lick the dust.
But what shall I say, Honourable and Beloved? We have prayed, and have not been heard; and thou, O Lord, hast not of late gone forth with our hosts : yea, thou hast rebuked us, instead of our enemies. Alas! we can more grieve, than wonder, at this issue.
Israel, in the hot chase of all their victory, is foiled, more than once, by a Canaanite. Whence was this? There was a pad in the straw, an Achan in the camp. Theft and sacrilege fought against Israel, more than the men of Ai: the wedge of gold wounded them, more than the enemy's steel: the Babylonish garment disarmed and stripped them. Israel had sinned, and must tee.
Alas, my Brethren, what do we pray for victory over our enemies, when our sins, which are our deadliest enemies, conquer us? To what purpose are our prayers loud, when our sins are souder? To what purpose are our bodies this day empty, if our souls he full of wickedness? While we provoke God to his face, with our abominable licentiousness, with our fearful profanations, with our outrageous lives, how do we think to glaver with him in our formal devotions? What cares he, for our smooth tongues, when our hearts are filthy? what cares he, for an elevated eye, when our souls are depressed to vile lusts? what cares he, for the calves of our lips, when the iniquity of our heels compasses us about? The very sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord: his very prayer is turned into sin, even that whereby he hopes to expiate it. Oh, that my people had hearkened to me, and Israel had walked in my menys, saith God: I should soon have subdued their enemies, and tuined my hand against their adversaries: The haters of the Lord
should have submitted themselves to him; but their time should have endured for ever; Psalm ixxxi. 13, 14, 15.
Oh then, cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purge your hearts, ye double-minded: uush your hands in innocence, and then compass the altar of God. Then shall the God of our righteousness hear in his holy heavens, and rise up mightily for our defence. Then shall he be a wall of brass about our island. Then shall he wound the head of our enemies, and make the tongues of our dogs red with their blood. Then shall he cover our heads in the day of batile; and make this nation of ours victoriously glorious to the ends of the world, even to all ages and times. Then shall he be known to be our God, and we shall be known to be his people for ever. Which he, of his infinite mercy, vouchsafe to grant us, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Righteous: To whom, &c.
THE BEAUTY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH:
IN A SERMON PREACHED AT WHITEHALL.
CANTICLES vi. 9.
My Dove, my Undefiled is One. Our last day's discourse was, as you heard, of War and Dissipa.tion: this shall be of Love and Unity.
Away with all profane thoughts : every syllable in this BridalSong is Divine, Who doubts that the Bridegroom is Christ, the Bride his Church? the Church, whether at large in all the faithful, or abridged in every faithful soul.
Christ the Bridegroom praises the Bride, his Church, for her Beauty, for her Entireness. For her Beauty, she is Columba, A Dove; she is perfecta, undefiled. Her Entireness is praised by her Propriety in respect of him, Columba mea, My Dove ; by her Unity in respect of herself, Una, One alone. My Dove, my Undefiled is but One. So as the BEAUTIFUL SINCERITY, the DEAR PROPRIETY, the INDIVISIBLE UNITY of the whole Church in common, and of the epitome thereof every Regenerate Soul, is the matter of my Text, of my speech. Let your holy attention follow me, and find yourselves in every particular. I. The two first titles, Columba and perfecta, are in effect but
This creature hath a pleasing BEAUTY, and an innocent SIMPLICITY: Columba imports the one, and perfecta the other; yea, each both: for what is the Perfection which can be attained here, but Sincerity ? and what other is our honest Sincerity, than those graceful proportions and colours which make us appear Lovely in the eyes of God?
The undefiled then interprets the Dove ; and convertibly: for, therefore is the Church undefiled, because she is a Dove: she is, as Christ bade her, a népur@, innocent ; Matt. x. 16. and therefore is she Christ's Dove, because she is undefiled with the gall of spiritual bitterness.
Would ye rather see these graces apart? Look then, first, at the Loveliness; then, at the Harmlessness, of the Church, of the Soul.
1. Every thing in the Dove is AMIABLE ; her eyes; Cant. i. 15: her feathers; Psalm lxviii. 13 : and what not ? So is the Church in the eyes of Christ: and therefore the Vulgate translation puts
both these together, Columba mea, formosa mea; My dove, my fair one ; Cant. ii. 10. which Lucas Brugensis confesses not to be in the Hebrew, yet adds, Ne facilè omittas.
Thy Dove, o God? Yea, why not thy Raven rather? I am sure she can say of herself, I am black : and, if our own hearts condemn us, thou art greater. Alas! what canst thou see in us but the pustules of corruption, the morphews of deformity, the hereditary leprosy of sin, the pestilential spots of death ? And dost thou say, My Dove, my undefiled? Let malice speak her worst. The Church says she is black ; but she says she is comely : and that is fair, that pleaseth. Neither doth God look upon us with our eyes, but with his own: He sees not as man seeth. The king's daughter is all glorious within : finite eyes reach not thither. The skin-deep beauty of earthly faces, is a fit object for our shallow sense, that can see nothing but colour.
Have ye not seen some pictures, which, being looked on one way, shew some ugly beast or bird; another way, shew an exquisite face? Even so doth God see our best side, with favour; while we see our worst, with rigour.
Not that his justice sees any thing, as it is not; but that his merсу
will not see some things, as they are. Blessed is the man, whose sin is covered ; Psalm xxxii. 1. If we be foul; yet thou, O Saviour, art glorious. Thy Righteousness beautifies
Thy Righteousness beautifies us, who are blemished by our own corruptions.
But what ? shall our borrowed beauty blemish, the while, thine infinite Justice? Shall we taint thee, to clear ourselves? Dost thou justify the wicked? Dost thou feather the Raven with the wings of the Dove? While the cloth is fair, is the skin nasty ? Is it no more, but to deck a blackmore with white ? Even with the long white robes which are the justifications of saints? God forbid ! Cursed be he, O Lord, that makes thy mercies unjust. No; whom thou accountest holy, thou makest so: whom thou justifiest, him thou sanctifiest. No man can be perfectly just in thee, who is not truly, though unperfectly, holy in himself
. Whether therefore, as fully just by thy gracious imputation, or as inchoately just by thy gracious inoperation, we are in both thy Dove, thy Undefiled. În spite of all the blemishes of her outward administrations, God's Church is beautiful : in spite of her inward weaknesses, the faithful Soul is comely: in spite of both, each of them is a dove, each of them undefiled. It is with both, as he said long since of physicians, “ The sun sees their successes, the earth hides their errors.” None of their unwilling infirmities can hinder the God of Mercies from a gracious allowance of their integrity; Behold, thou art all fair.
But let no idle Donat ist of Amsterdam dream hence of an Utopical perfection. Even here is the Dove still: but Columba seducta, or fatua (as Tremellius reads it) Ephraim ; Ephraim is a silly, seduced Dove ; Hos. vii. 11. The rifeness of their familiar excommunications, may have taught them to seek for a spotlessness aboye. And if their furious censures had left but one man in