PREACHED ON CANDLEMAS DAY.
Matt. V. 16.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Either of the names of this day were text enough for a sermon, Purification, or Candlemas. Join we them together, and raise wo only this one note from both, that all true purification is in the light: corner purity, clandestine purity, conventicle purity is not purity. Christ gave himself for us, says the apostle, that he might purify to himself a peculiar people. How shall this purification appear? It follows; They shall be zealous of good works1 ,• they shall not wrangle about faith and works, but be actually zealous of good works. For purification was accompanied with an oblation, something was to be given"; a lamb, a dove, a turtle; all emblems of mildness; true purity is mild, meek, humble, and to despise and undervalue others, is an inseparable mark of false purity. The oblation of this day's purification is light; so tho day names it, Candlemas-day, so your custom celebrates it, with many lights. Now, when God received lights into his tabernacle, he received none of tallow, (the ox hath horns,) he received none of wax, (the bee hath his sting) but he received only lamps of oil. And, though from many fruits and berries they pressed oil, yet God admitted no oil into the service of the church, but only of
1 Tit. ii. 14. 4 Levit. xii. 6.
the olive; the olive, the emblem of peace. Our purification is with an oblation, our oblation is light, our light is good works; our peaco is rather to exhort you to them, than to institute any solemn, or other than occasional comparison between faith and them. Every good work hath faith for tho root; but every faith hath not good works for the fruit thereof. And it is observable, that in all this great sermon of our Saviour's in the Mount, (which possesseth this, and the two next chapters) there is no mention of faith, by way of persuasion or oxbortation thereunto, but the whole sermon is spent upon good works. For, good works presuppose faith; and therefore he concludes that they had but little faith, because they were so solicitous about the things of this world, 0 ye of little faith3. And as Christ concludes an unsteadfastness in their faith, out of their solicitude for this world, so may the world justly conclude an establishment in their faith, if they see them exercise themselves in the works of mercy, and so let their light shine before men, that they may see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven.
These are words spoken by our Saviour to his disciples in tho Mount; a treasure deposited in those disciples, but in those disciples, as depositaries for us; an oracle uttered to thoso disciples, but through those disciples to us; Paradise conveyed to those disciples, but to those disciples, as feoffees in trust for us; to every one of us, in them (from him, that rides with his hundred of torches, to him that crawls with his rush candle) our Saviour says, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, <$fc. The words have two parts; so must our explication of them; first a precept, Let your light so shine before men, and then the reason, the purpose, the end, the effect, that men may see your good works, and fyc. From the first bough will divers branches spring, and divers from the other; all of good taste and nourishment, if we might stay to press the fruits thereof. We cannot; yet in the first we shall insist awhile upon each of these three; first, the light itself, what that is, Let your light so shine; and then, secondly, what this propriety is, let your light shine, yours; and lastly what this emanation of this light upon others is, let your light shine before men. Tho
3 Matt. vi. 30.
second part, which is the reason, or the effect of this precept, that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven, abounds in particular considerations; and I should weary you, if I should make [you stand all the while under so heavy a load, as to charge your memories with all those particulars, so long before I come to handle them. Reserving them therefore to their due time, anon, proceed we now to the three branches of our first part, first the light in itself, then the propriety in us, lastly, the emanation upon others, Let your light so shine before men.
First, for the light itself, There is a light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. And even this universal light is ^Christ, says St. John, He was that light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world*. And this universal enunciation, He lighteneth every man, moved St. Cyril to take this light for the light of nature, and natural reason. For even nature and natural reason is from Christ. All things were made by him5, says St. John, even nature itself. And, By him, and for him, all things visible, and invisible were created", says the apostle. And therefore our latter men of the Reformation, are not to be blamed, who for the most part, pursuing St. Cyril's interpretation, interpret this universal light, that lighteneth every man, to be the light of nature. Divers others of the fathers take this universal light (because Christ is said to be this light) to be baptism. For, in the primitive church, as the nativity of Christ was called the Epiphany, Manifestation, so baptism was called Illumination. And so, Christ lightens every man that comes into the world, (that is, into the christian world) by that sacrament of illumination, baptism. St. Augustine brought the exposition of that universal proposition into a narrow room; that he enlightened all that came into the world, that is, all that were enlightened in the world, were enlightened by him; there was no other light; and so he makes this light to be the light of faith, and the light of effectual grace, which all have not, but they that have, have it from Christ. Now which of these lights is intended in our text, Let your light shine out? Is it of the light of nature, at our coming into the world, or the light of baptism, and that general
4 John i. 9. 5 John i. 3. 6 Colos. i. 16.
grace that accompanies all God's ordinances, at our coming into the church, or the light of faith, and particular grace, sealing our adoption, and spiritual filiation there? Properly, our light is none of these three; and yet it is truly, all; for our light is the light of good works; and that proceeds from all the other three, and so is all those, and then it goes beyond all three, and so is none of them. It proceeds from all; for, if we consider the first light, the light of nature, in our creation, We are, (says the, apostle,) his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works1. So that we were all made for that, for good works; even the natural man, by that first light. Consider it in the second light, in baptism; there we die in Christ, and are buried in Christ, and rise in Christ, and in him we are new creatures, and with him we make a covenant in baptism, for holiness of life, which is the body of good works. Consider the third, that of faith, and as everything in nature is, so faith is perfected by working; for, faith is dead", without breath, without spirit, if it be without works. So, this light is in all those lights; we are created, we are baptised, we are adopted for good works; and it is beyond them all, even that of faith; for, though faith have a pre-eminence, because works grow out of it, and so faith (as the root) is first, yet works have the pre-eminence thus, both that they include faith in them, and that they dilate, and diffuse, and spread themselves more declaratorily, than faith doth. Therefore, as our Saviour said to some that asked him, What shall we do that we might work the work of God"? (you see their mind was upon works, something they were sure was to be done) This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent, and so refers them to faith, so to another that asks him, What shall I do, that I- mag have eternal life1''? (all go upon that, that something there must be done, works there must be) Christ says, Keep the commandments, and so refers him to works. He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good, and what doth the Lord .require of thee, but to do justly, and to show mercy, and to walk humbly with thy Godn? This then is the light that lighteth every man that goes out of the world, good works; for, their works follow
them1*. Their works; they shall be theirs, oven after their death; which is our second branch in this first part, the propriety, let your light shine.
I cannot always call the works that I do, my works; for sometimes God works them, and sometimes the devil; sometimes God works his own work, The Lord will do his work, his strange work, and bring to pass his act, his strange act1". Sometimes he works my works, Thou Lord hast wrought all our works in us". In us, and in all things else, he worketh all in all. And all this in all these, after the counsel of his own will; for, I will work, and who shall let it? But for all this his general working, his enemy works in us too. That which I do, I allow not, says the apostle; nay, / know it not; for, says he, what I hate, that I do. And, if I do that I would not do, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me". Yet, for all this diverse, this contrary working, as St. Augustine says of the faculty of the will, Nihil tam nostrum, qua?n voluntas1S, there is nothing so much our own, as our will before wo work, so there is nothing so much our own, as our works, after they are done. They stick to us, they cleave to us; whether as fomentations to nourish us, or as corrosives, to gnaw upon us, that lies in the nature of the work; but ours they are; and upon us our works work. Our good works are more ours, than our faith is ours. Our faith is ours as we have received it, our work is ours, as we have done it. Faith is ours, as we are possessors of it; the work ours, as we are doers, actors in it. Faith is ours, as our goods are ours, works, as our children are ours. And therefore when the prophet Habakkuk says, The just shall live by his faith11, that particle his, is a word of possession, not a word of acquisition; that God hath infused that faith into him, and so it is his, not that he hath produced that faith in himself. His faith must save him; his own, and not another's, nor his parents' faith, though he be the son of holy parents; not the church's faith, (if he be of years) though he be within the covenant, but his own personal faith; yet not his so, as that it grew in him, or was produced in him, by him, by any plantation, or semination of his own. And therefore St. Paul in citing that
"Apoc. xiv. 13. 13 Isaiah xxviii. 21. 14 Isaiah xxvi. 12.
15 Bom. vii. 15. 16 Augustine. 17 Hab. ii. 4.
place of Habakkuk (as he cloth cite it three several times18) in all those places leaves out that particle of propriety, and acquisition, his, and still says, The just shall live by faith, and he says no more. And when our blessed Saviour says to the woman with the bloody issue, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee wholeTM, it was said then, when he had seen that woman come trembling, and fall down at his feet; he saw outward declarations of her faith, he saw works. And so, in divers of those places, where Christ repeats that, thy faith, we find it added, Jesus seeing their faith. With what eyes? he looked upon them with his human eyes, not his divine; he saw not (that is, considered not at that time) their hearts, but their outward declarations, and proceeding as a good man would, out of their works concludes faith. Velle et nolle nostrum est30, to assent or to disassent is our own; we may choose which we will do; Ipsumque quod nostrum est, sine Dei miseratione nostrum non est; But though this faculty be ours, it is ours, but because God hath imprinted it in us. So that still to will, as well as to do, to believe, as well as to work, is all from God; but yet they are from God in a diverse manner, and a diverse respect; and certainly our works are more ours than our faith is, and man concurs otherwise in the acting and perpetration of a good work, then he doth in the reception and admission of faith. Sed quw non fecimus ipsi, says the poet; and he was vates, a prophet in saying so, Vix ea nostra voco; nothing is ours, but that which we have done ourselves; and all that is ours. And though Christ refer us often to belief, in this life, because he would be sure to plant, and fasten safely that which is the only true root of all, that is, faith, yet when he comes to judgment, in the next life, all his proceedings is grounded upon works, and he judges us by our fruits. So then God gives us faith immediately from himself, and out of that faith he produces good works instrumentally by us, so as that those works are otherwise ours, than that faith is. And this is the propriety, let your light shine, which we proposed for the second branch in this first part, that God vouchsafes to afford us an interest in the working of our salva
18 Rom. i. 17. Gal. iii. 11. Heb. x. 36. 19 Mark v. 34.
tion; and then our third branch is, the emanation of thi s light, from us, to others, let your light shine before men.
There was a particular holyday amongst the heathen, that bore the name of this day, Accensio luminum, Candlemas-day; a superstitious multiplying of lamps, and torches in divine service. This superstition Lactantius reproves, elegantly, and bitterly. Num mentis suw compos putandus est? can we think that man in his wits, that offers to God, the Father, and Fountain, the Author and Giver of all light, a candle for an oblation, for a sacrifice, for a new year's gift? Solem contempletur, says he; let that man but consider seriously the sun, and he will see, that that God who could spare him so glorious a light as the sun, needs not his candle. And therefore says Tertullian, (reprehending the same superstition) Lucernis diem non infringimus, we do not cut off, we do not shorten our days, by setting up lights at noon, nor induce, nor force, nor make night before it comes.
I would not be understood to condemn all use of candles by day in divine service, nor all churches that have or do use them; for, so, I might condemn even the primitive church, in her pure and innocent estate. And therefore, that which Lactantius, almost three hundred years after Christ, says of those lights, and that which Tertullian, almost a hundred years before Lactantius, says, in reprehension thereof, must necessarily be understood of the abuse, and imitation of the Gentiles therein; for, that the thing itself was in use, before either of the times, I think admits little question. About Lactantius' time, fell the Eliberitan council; and then the use, and the abuse was evident. For, in the thirty-fourth canon of that council, it is forbidden to set up candles in the church-yard: and, the reason that is added, declares the abuse, Non sunt inquietandi spiritus fidelium, that the souls of the saints departed should not be troubled. Now, the setting up of lights could not trouble them; but these lights were accompanied with superstitious invocations, with magical incantations, and with howlings and ejaculations, which they had learned from the Gentiles, and with these, the souls of the dead were in those times thought to be affected, and disquieted. It is in this ceremony of lights, as it is in other ceremonies: they may be good in their institution, and grow ill in their
practice. So did many things, which the Christian church received from the Gentiles in harmless innocency, degenerate after, into as pestilent superstition there, as amongst the Gentiles themselves. For, ceremonies, which were received, but for the instruction, and edification of the weaker sort of people, were made real parts of the service of God, and meritorious sacrifices. To those ceremonies, which were received as helps to excite, and awaken devotion, was attributed an operation, and an effectual power, even to the ceremony itself; and they were not practised, as they should, significative, but effective, not as things which should signify to the people higher mysteries, but as things as powerful and effectual in themselves, as the greatest mysteries of all, the sacraments themselves. So lights were received in the primitive Church, to signify to the people, that God, the Father of lights, was otherwise present in that place, than in any other, and then, men came to offer lights by way of sacrifice to God; and so, that which was providently intended for man, who indeed needed such helps, was turned upon God, as though he were to be supplied by us. But what then? Because things good in their institution, may be depraved in their practice, Ergone nihil ceremoniarum rudioribus dabitur, ad juvandam eorum imperitiam"? Shall therefore the people be denied all ceremonies, for the assistance of their weakness? Id ego non dico; I say not so, says he. Omnino illis utile esse sentio hoc genus adminiculi; I think these kinds of helps to be very behooveful for them; all that I strive for, is but moderation; and that moderation he places very discreetly in this, that these ceremonies may be few in number; that they may be easy for observation; that they may be clearly understood in their signification; we must not therefore be hasty in condemning particular ceremonies; for, in so doing, in this ceremony of lights, we may condemn the primitive church, that did use them, and we condemn a great and noble part of the reformed church, which doth use them at this day.
These superstitious lights, are not the lights we call for here, let your light shine out; but your light, the light of good works; let that shine out. Truly, this carrying, and diffusing of light to
"Calv. Instit. L c. 4. 10. § 14.
others is so blessed a thing, as that though Lucifer, (whose name signifies the carrying of light) be now an odious name, an infamous name, applied only to the devil, yet a great bishop in the primitive church abstained not from that name, forbore not that name, Lucifer Talaritanus; that he might carry about him, in his name, a remembrancer, ferre lucem, to carry light to others, he was content with that name, Lucifer. God had made light the first day, and yet he made many lights after. One light of thine Bhines out in our eyes, thy profession of Christ; let us see more lights, works worthy of that profession. God calls the sun, and the moon too, great lights, because though there be greater in the firmament, they appear greatest to us; those works of ours aro greatest in the sight of God, that are greatest in the sight of men, that are most beneficial, most exemplary, and conduce most to the promoving of others to glorify God. To such rich men, as produce no light at all, (no works) that of St. Augustine is appliable, cimices sunt, they are as these worms, or flies, the ciniices, qui vim mordent, mortui fwtent, they bite, and suck a man, whilst they live, and they stink pestilently, and offend so, when they are dead. The actions of such rich men are mischievous whilst they live, and their memory odious when they are dead. But all rich men are not such, to be absolutely without all light. But then they may have light, (a determined purpose to do some good works) and yet this light not shine out. No man can more properly be said to hide his light under a bushel, (which because Christ says, in the verse before our text, no man does, certainly no man should do) than he, who hath disposed some part of his estate to pious uses, but hides it in his will, and locks up that will in his cabinet; for, in this case, though there be light, yet it does not shine out. Your gold, and your silver is cankered, says St. James, and the rust of them shall be a witness, and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire%t. He does not say the gold and the silver itself, as reproving the ill getting of it, but the rust, the hiding, the concealing thereof, shall be this witness agamst thee, this executioner upon thee. That man dies in an ill state, of whose faith we have had no evidence, till, after his death, his executors meet, and open his will, and then publish some legacies
84 James v. 3,
to pious uses: and we had no evidence before, if he had done no good before. For, show me thy faith without thy works83, says the apostle; and he proposes it, as an impossible thing, impossible to show it, impossible to have it. And therefore, as good works are our own, so are they never so properly our own, as when they are done with our own hands; for this is the true shining of our light, the emanation from us upon others. And so have you the three pieces, which constitute our first part, the precept, Let your light shine before men; the light itself, not the light of nature, nor of baptism, nor of adoption, but the light of good works; and then the appropriation of this light, how these works are ours, though the goodness thereof be only from God; and lastly the emanation of this light upon others; which cannot well be said to be an emanation of our light, of light from us, except it be whilst we are we, that is, alive. And so we pass to those many particulars, which frame our second part, the reason, and the end of this, That men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
In this end, our beginning is, that men may see it. The apparitions in old times, were evermore accompanied with lights; but they were private lights; such an old woman, or such a child saw a light; but it did not shine out, so that men might see this fight. We have a story delivered by a very pious man8*, and of the truth whereof he seems to be very well assured, that one Conradus, a devout priest, had such an illustration, such an irradiation, such a coruscation, such a light at the tops of those fingers, which he used in the consecration of the sacrament, as that by that light of his fingers' ends, he could have read in the night, as well as by so many candles; but this was but a private light; it did not shine out, so that men might see it. Blessed St. Augustine reports", (if that epistle be St. Augustine's) that when himself was writing to St. Hierome, to know his opinion of the measure and quality of the joy, and glory of heaven, suddenly in his chamber there appeared ineffabile lumen, says he, an unspeakable, an unexpressible light, nostris invisum temporibus, such a light as our times never saw, and out of that light issued
83 James ii. 18. 84 Cantipratamis, 1. i. c. 9.
85 Epist. ccv. ad Cyril. Jerosolym.
this voice, Hieronymi anima sum, I am the soul of that Hierome to whom thou art writing, who this hour died at Bethlem, and am come from thence to thee, &c. But this was but a private light, and whatsoever St. Augustine saw, (who was not easily deceived, nor would deceive others) non videbant homines, this light did not shine so, as that men might see it. Here, in our text, there is a light required that men may see. Those lights of their apparitions we cannot see; there is a light of ours, which our adversaries may see, and will not; which is truly the light of this text, the light of good works. Though our zeal to good works shine out assiduously day by day, in our sermons, and shine out powerfully in the homilies of our church, composed expressly to that purpose, and shine out actually in our many sumptuous buildings, and rich endowments, (in which works, we of this kingdom, in this last century, since the reformation of religion, have perhaps exceeded our fathers, in any one hundred of years, whilst they lived under the Roman persuasion) yet still they cry out, we are enemies of this light, and abhor good works. As I have heard them in some obscure places abroad, preach, that here in England, we had not only no true church, no true priesthood, no true sacraments, but that we have no material churches, no holy convocations, no observing of Sundays, or holy days, no places to serve God in; so I have heard them preach, that we do not only not advance, but that we cry down, and discredit, and dissuade, and discountenance the doctrine of good works. It is enough to say to them, as the angel said to the devil, The Lord rebuke theeia. And the Lord does rebuke them, in enabling us to proceed in these pious works, which with so notorious falsehood they deny; and we do rebuke them, the best and most powerful way, in that, (as the apostle says) We consider one another, (consider the necessities of others) ami provoke one another to love, and good works*1.
But then, if this be God's end in our good works, that men may see them, why is Christ so earnest, in this very se rmon, as to say, Take heed you do not your alms before men, to he seen of them8"? Is there no contradiction in these I far from it; the intent of both precepts together make up this doctrine that we
do them not therefore, not to that end, that men may see them. So far we must come, that men must see them, but we must not rest there; for, it is but let your light shine out so, it is not, let it shine out therefore; our doing of good works must have a farther end, than the knowledge of men, as we shall see, towards our end, anon.
Men must see them then, and see them to be works, That they may see your works: which is a word that implies difficulty, and pain, and labour, and is accompanied with some loathness, with some colluctation. Do such works, for God's sake, as are hard for thee to do. In such a word does God deliver his commandment of the Sabbath; not that word, which in that language signifies ordinary and easy works, but servile and laborious works, toilsome and gainful works, those works thou mayest not do upon the Sabbath. But those works, in the virtue of the precept of this text, thou must do in the sight of men; those that are hard for thee to do. David would not consecrate, nor offer unto God, that which cost him nothing"; first he would buy Araunah's threshing-floor at a valuable price, and then he would dedicate it to God. To give old clothes, past wearing, to the poor, is not so good a work as to make new for them. To give a little of your superfluities, not so acceptable as the widow's gift30, that gave all. To give a poor soul a farthing at that door, where you give a player a shilling, is not equal dealing; for, this is to give God The refuse of the -wheat11. But do thou some such things, as are truly works in our sense, such as are against the nature, and ordinary practice of worldly men to do; some things, by which they may see, that thou dost prefer God before honour, and wife, and children, and hadst rather build, and endow some place, for God's service, than pour out money to multiply titles of honour upon thyself, or enlarge jointures and portions to an unnecessary and unmeasurable proportion, when there is enough done before.
Let men see that which thou doest, to be a work, qualified with some difficulty in the doing, and then those works, to be good works, videant opera bona, that they may see your good works. They are not good works, how magnificent soever, if they be not directed
w 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. 10 Mark xii. 42. 31 Amos viii. C.
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to good ends. A superstitious end, or a seditious end vitiates the best work. Great contributions have been raised, and great sums given, to build, and endow seminaries, and schools, and colleges in foreign parts; but that hath a superstitious end. Great contributions have been raised, and great sums given at home, for the maintenance of such refractory persons, as by opposing the government and discipline of the church, have drawn upon themselves silencings, and suspensions, and deprivations; but that hath a seditious end. But give so as in a rectified conscience, and not a distempered zeal, (a rectified conscience is that, that hath the testimony and approbation of most good men, in a succession of times, and not to rely occasionally upon one or a few men of the separation, for the present) give so, as thou mayest sincerely say, God gave me this, to give thus, and so it is a good work. So it must be, a work (something of some importance) and a good work, not depraved with an ill end) and then your work, that they may see your good works.
They are not your works, if that that you give be not your own. Nor is it your own, if it were ill gotten at first. How long soever it have been possessed, or how often soever it have been transformed, from money to ware, from ware to land, from land to office, from office to honour, the money, the ware, the land, the office, the honour is none of thine, if, in thy knowledge, it were ill gotten at first. Zaccheus, in St. Luke3*, gives half his goods to the poor; but it is half of his, his own; for there might be goods in his house, which were none of his. Therefore in the same instrument, he passes that scrutiny, if I have taken any thing unjustly, I restore him fourfold. First let that that was ill gotten, be deducted, and restored, and then, of the rest, which is truly thine own, give cheerfully. When Moses says, that our years are threescore and ten, if we deduct from that term all the hours of our unnecessary sleep, of superfluous sittings at feasts, of curiosity in dressing, of largeness in recreations, of plotting, and compassing of vanities, or sins, scarce any man of threescore and ten, would be ten years old, when he dies. If we should deal so with worldly men's estates, (defalce unjust gettings) it would abridge and attenuate many a swelling inven
n Luke xix. 8.
tory. Till this defalcation, this scrutiny be made, that you know what's your own, what's other men's, as your tomb shall be but a monument of your rotten bones, how much gold or marble soever be bestowed upon it, so that hospital, that free-school, that college that you shall build and endow, will be but a monument of your bribery, your extortion, your oppression; and God, who will not be in debt, (though he owe you nothing that built it) may be pleased to give the reward of all that, to them, from whom that which was spent upon it, was unjustly taken; for, The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous33, says Solomon. The sinner may do pious works, and the righteous may be rewarded for them; the world may think of one founder, and God knows another. That which is enjoined in the name of light here, is works, (not trifles) and good works, (made good by the good ends they are directed to) and then your works (done out of that which is truly your own) aud by seeing this light, men will be moved to glorify your Father which is in heaven; which is the true end of all; that men may see them, but see them therefore, To glorify your Father which is in heaven.
He does not say, that by seeing your good works, men shall glorify your sons upon earth. And yet truly, even that part of the reward, and retribution is worth a great deal of your cost, and your alms; that God shall establish your posterity in the world, and in the good opinion of good men. As you have your estates, you have your children from God too. As it is David's recognition, The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance3*, so Eve's recognition upon the birth of her first son Cain, was, / have gotten, I possess a man from, the Lord3*. Now that that man that thou possessest from the Lord, thy son, may possess that land that thou possessest from the Lord, it behoves thee to be righteous; for so, (by that righteousness) thou becomest a foundation for posterity, (the righteous is an everlasting foundation3*) his light, (his good works) shall be a cheerful light unto him; (for, The light of the righteous rejoiceth him31.) They shall be so in this life, and, He shall have hope in his death33, saith Solomon; that is, hope for himself in another world, and hope of his posterity
33 Prov. xiii. 22. a' PsaL xvi. 5. 35 Gen. iv. 1.
36 Prov. x. 25. 37 Prov. xiii. 9. 88 Prov. xiv. 23.
in this world; for, says he, He leaveth an inheritance to his children's children3"; that is, an inheritance, out of which he hath taken, and restored all that was unjustly got from men, and taken a bountiful part, which he hath offered to God in pious uses, that the rest may descend free from all claims, and incumbrances upon his children's children. The righteous is merciful, and lendeth*", says David. Merciful as his Father in heaven is merciful; that is, in perpetual, not transitory endowments, (for, God did not set up his lights, his sun, and his moon for a day, but for ever, and such should our light, or good works be too.) He is merciful, and he lendeth; to whom? for to the poor he giveth; he looks for no return from them, for they are the waters upon which he casts his bread. Yet he lendeth; He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord. The righteous is merciful and lendeth", and then, (as David adds there) His seed is blessed. Blessed in this (which follows there) that he shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever**, (which he ratines again, Surely he shall not be moved for ever*3; that is, he shall never be moved, in his posterity) and as he is blessed that way, blessed in the establishment of his possession upon his children's children, so is he blessed in this, that his honour, and good name shall be poured out as a fragrant oil upon his posterity, The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance. Their memory shall be always alive, and always fresh in their posterity, when The name of the wicked shall rot**. So then, the fruit of the righteous is the tree of life*5, says Solomon; that is, the righteous shall produce plants, that shall grow up, and nourish; so his posterity shall be a tree of life to many generations; and then The glory of children are their fathers*", says that wise king; as fathers receive comfort from good children, so children receive glory from good parents; in this are children glorified, that they had righteous fathers, that lent unto the Lord. So that, (to recollect these pieces) it is no small reward that God affords you, if men, seeing your good works, glorify, that is, esteem, and respect, and love, and honour your children upon earth. But it is not only
39 Prov. xiii. 22. 40 Psal. xxxvii. 26. 41 Prov. xix. 17.
48 Psal. xxxvii. 29. 43 Psal. cxii. 4. 44 Prov. x. 7.
45 Prov. xi. 30. 46 Prov. xvii. 6.
that; your good works shall be an occasion of carrying glory upon the right object, they shall glorify your Father, which is in heaven.
It is not, the Father which is in heaven; that they should glorify God, as the common Father of all, by creation. For for that they need not your light, your good works; the Heavens declare the glory of God, says David; that is, glorify him in an acknowledgment, that he is the Father of them, and of all other things by creation. Is not he thy Father? hath he not made thee"? is an interrogatory ministered by Moses, to which all things must answer with the prophet Malachi, yes, He is our Father, for he hath made uste■ But that is not the paternity of this text, as God is Father of us all by creation. Nor as he is a Father of some in a more particular consideration, in giving them large portions, great patrimonies in this world; for, thus, he may be my Father and yet disinherit me; he may give me plenty of temporal blessings, and withhold from me spiritual, and eternal blessings. Now, to see this, men need not your light, your good works; for, they see daily, that he maketh his sun to shine on the evil, and on the good;- and causeth it to rain on the just, and the unjust; he feeds goats as well as sheep, he gives the wicked temporal blessings, as well as the righteous. These then are not the paternities of our text, that men, by this occasion, glorify God as the Father of all men by creation, nor as the Father of all rich men, by their large patrimonies, not as he is the Father, not as he is a Father, but as he is your Father, as he is made yours, as he is become yours, by that particular grace of using the temporal blessings which he hath given you, to his glory, in letting your light shine before men. For, it were better God disinherited us, so as to give us nothing, than that he gave us not the grace to use that that he gave us, well: without this, all his bread were stone, and all his fishes serpents, all his temporal liberality malediction. How much happier had that man been, that hath wasted thousands in play, in riot, in wantonness, in sinful excesses, if his parents had left him no more at first, than he hath left himself at last I How much nearer to a kingdom in heaven had he been, if he had been born a beggar here I Nay, though he have done no ill, (of such excessive kinds) how much happier 47 Deut. xxxii. 6. 48 Malac. ii. 10,
had he been, if he had had nothing left him, if he have done no good? There.cannot be a more fearful comtnination upon man, nor a more dangerous dereliction from God, than when God says, / will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices"; though thou offer none, I care not, I will never tell thee»of it, nor reprove thee for it, I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices. And when he says, (as he does there) If I be hungry I will not tell thee; I will not awake thy charity, I will not excite thee, not provoke thee, with any occasion of feeding me, in feeding the poor. When God shall say to me, I care not whether you come to church, or no, whether you pray or no, repent or no, confess, receive or no, this is a fearful dereliction; so is it, when he says to a rich man, I care not whether your light shine out, or no, whether men seo your good works or no; I can provide for my glory other ways. For, certainly God hath not determined his purpose and his glory so much in that, to make some men rich that the poor might be relieved, (for that ends in bodily relief) as in this, that he hath made some men poor, whereby the rich might have occasion to exercise their charity; for that reaches to spiritual happiness; for which use, the poor do not so much need the rich, as the rich need the poor; the poor may better be saved without the rich, than the rich without the poor. But when men shall see, that that God, who is the Father of us all, by creating us, and the Father of all the rich, by enriching them, is also become your Father, yours by adoption, yours by infusion of that particular grace, to do good with your goods, then are you made blessed instruments of that which God seeks here, his glory, they shall glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Glory is so inseparable to God, as that God himself is called Glory, They changed their glory into the similitude of an ox5"; their glory, their true God into an inglorious idol. That glory may dwell in our land", says he; that is, that God may dwell therein. The first end of letting our light to shine before men, is, that they may know God's proceedings; but, the last end to which all conduces, is, that God may have glory. Whatsoever God did first in his own bosom, in his own decree, (w'iat that was, contentious men will needs wrangle) whatsoever that first act was, God's last end in that first act of his was his ow n glory. 49 Psal. t. 8 and 12. 50 Psal. cvi. 20. 51 Psal. Lxxxv. 10.
And therefore to impute any inglorious or ignoble thing to God, comes too near blasphemy. And be any man who hath any sense or taste of nobleness, or honour, judge, whether there be any glory in the destruction of those creatures whom they have raised, till those persons have deserved ill at their hands, and in some way have damnified them, or dishonoured them. Nor can God propose that for glory, to destroy man, till he find cause in man. Now this glory, to which Christ bends all in this text, (that men by seeing your good works, might glorify your Father) consists especially in these two declarations, commemoration, and imitation; a due celebration of former founders and benefactors, and a pious proceeding according to such precedents, is this glorifying of God.
When God calls himself so often, The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, God would have the world remember, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were extraordinary men, memorable men. When God says, Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were here, they should not deliver this people5*, God would have it known, that Noah, Daniel, and Job were memorable men, and able to do much with him. When the Holy Ghost is so careful to give men their additions, That Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents, and keep cattle, and Jubal the father of harpers, and organists, and Tubal-cain of all gravers in brass and iron53: and when he presents with so many particularities every piece of work that Hiram of Tyre wrought in brass for the furnishing of Solomon's Temple64, God certainly is not afraid that his honour will be diminished, in the honourable mentioning of such men as have benefitted the world by public good works. The wise man seems to settle himself upon that meditation; Let us now praise famous men55, says he, and our fathers that begot us; and so he institutes a solemn commemoration, and gives a catalogue of Enoch, and Abraham, and Moses, and Aaron, and so many more, as possess six chapters; nor doth he ever end the meditation till he end his book; so was he fixed upon the commemoration of good men; as St. Paul likewise feeds and delights himself in the like meditation, even from Abel56. It is therefore a wretched impotency, not to endure the commemoration, and
5i Ezech. xiv. 14. 53 Gen. iv. 20. 54 1 Kings vii. 13.
55 Ecclus. xi-iv. I, 58 Heb. xi.
honourable mentioning of our founders and benefactors. God hath delivered us, and our church, from those straits, in which some churches of the Reformation have thought themselves to be, when they have made canons, that there should be no bell rung, no dole given, no mention made of the dead at any funeral, lest that should savour of superstition. The Holy Ghost hath taught us the difference between praising the dead, and praying for the dead, between commemorating of saints, and invocating of saints. We understand what David means, when he says, This honour have all his saints61, and what St. Paul means, when he says, Unto the only wise God be honour, and glory, for ever and ever6". God is honoured in due honour given to his saints, and glorified in the commemoration of those good men whose light hath so shined out before men, that they have seen their good works. But then he is glorified more in our imitation, than in our commemoration.
Herein is my Father glorified, (says Christ) that ye bear much fruit6". The seed sowed in good ground, bore some an hundredfold, the least thirty. The seed (in this case) is the example that is before you, of those good men, whose light hath shined out so, that you have seen their good works. Let this seed, these good examples bring forth hundreds, and sixties, and thirties in you, much fruit; for herein is your Father glorified, that you bear much fruit. Of which plentiful increase, I am afraid there is one great hinderance that passes through many of you, that is, that when your will lies by you, in which some little lamp of this light is set up, something given to God in pious uses, if a ship miscarry, if a debtor break, if your state be any way impaired, the first that suffers, the first that is blotted out of the will, is God and his legacy; and if your estates increase, portions increase, and perchance other legacies, but God's portion and legacy stands at a stay. Christ left two uses of his passion; application and imitation. He suffered for usTM, says the apostle; for us, that is, that we might make his death ours, apply his death, and then (as it follows there) he left us an example. So Christ gives us two uses of the reformation of religion: first, the doctrine, how to do good works without relying upon them, as meritorious; and then example, many, very many men (and 61 Psal. cxiix. 9. 581 Tim. i. 17. 6" John xv. 8. 601 Pet. ii. 22.
more by much, in some kinds of charity, since the reformation of religion, than before) even in this city, whose light hath shined out before you, and you have seen their good works. That as this noble city hath justly acquired the reputation and the testimony of all who have had occasion to consider their dealings in that kind, that they deal most faithfully, most justly, most providently, in all things which are committed to their trust for pious uses, from others, not only in a full employment of that which was given, but in an improvement thereof, and then an employment of that improvement to the same pious use, so every man in his particular may propose to himself some of those blessed examples which have risen amongst yourselves, and follow that, and exceed that; that as your lights are torches, and not petty candles, and your torches better than others' torches, so he also may be a larger example to others, than others have been to him, for, Herein is your Father glorified, if you bear much fruit, and that is the end of all that we all do, That men seeing it, may glorify our Father which is in Heaven.