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Sermon XLIII

SERMON XLIII.

PREACHED UPON ALL-SAINTS' DAY.

Apocalypse vii. 2, 3.

And I saw another angel ascending from the East, -which had the seal of the living God, and he cricd with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom power was given to hurt the earth, and the sea, saying, Hurt ye not the earth, neither the sea, neither the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

The solemnity and festival with which the sons of the catholic church of God celebrate this day, is much mistaken, even by them who think themselves the only catholics, and celebrate this day, with a devotion, at least near to superstition in the church of Rome. For they take it (for the most part) to be a festival instituted by the church, in contemplation of the saints in heaven only ; and so carry and employ all their devotions this day, upon consideration of those saints, and invocation of them only. But the institution of this day had this occasion. The heathen Romans, who could not possibly house all their gods in several temples, they were so over-many, according to their law, Decs frutfi colunto, To serve God as cheap as they could, made one temple for them all, which they called Pantheon, To all the gods. This temple Boniface the pope begged of the Emperor Phocas ; (and yet, by the way, this was some hundreds of years after the donation of the Emperor Constantino, by which the bishops of Rome pretend all that to be theirs; surely they could not find this patent, this record, this donation of Constantine, then when Boniface begged this temple in Rome, this pantheon of the emperor) and this temple, formerly the temple of all their gods, that bishop consecrated to the honour of all the martyrs, of all the saints of that kind. But after him, another bishop of the same see, enlarged the consecration, and accompanied it with this festival, which we celebrate to-day, in honour of the Trinity, and angels, and apostles, and martyrs, and confessors, and saints, and all the elect children of God. So that it is truly a festival, grounded upon that article of the Creed, The communion of saints, and unites in our devout contemplation, the Head of the church, God himself, and those two noble constitutive parts thereof, the triumphant, and the militant. And, accordingly, hath the church applied this part of Scripture, to be read for the Epistle of this day, to show, that All-Saints' day hath relation to all saints, both living and dead; for those servants of God, which are here in this text, sealed in their foreheads, are such (without all question) as receive that seal here, here in the militant church. And therefore, as these words, so this festival, in their intendment, that applied these words to this festival, is also of saints upon earth.

This day being then the day of the communion of saints, and this Scripture being received for the epistle of this universal day, that exposition will best befit it, which makes it most universal. And therefore, with very good authority, such as the expositions of this book of the Revelation can receive, (of which book, no man will undertake to the Church, that he hath found the certain, and the literal sense as yet, nor is sure to do it, till the prophecies of this book be accomplished, for Prophetice ingenium, ut in obscuro delitescat, donee impleatur1, It is the nature of prophecy to be secret, till it be fulfilled, and therefore Daniel was bid to shut up the words, and to seal the book even to the time of the end*, that is, to the end of the prophecy) with good authority, I say, we take that number of the servants of God, which are said to be sealed in the fourth verse of this chapter, which is one hundred forty-four thousand, and that multitude which none could number, of all nations, which are mentioned in the ninth verse, to be intended of one and the same company; both these expressions denote the same persons. In the fourth verse of the fourteenth chapter, this number of one hundred forty-four thousand is applied to virgins, but is intended of all God's saints; for every holy soul is a virgin. And then this name of Israel, which is mentioned in the fourth verse of this chapter, (That there were so many sealed of the house of Israel) is often in Scripture applied to spiritual Israelites, to believers, (for every faithful soul is an Israelite) so that this number of one hundred forty-four thousand virgins, and one hundred forty-four thousand Israelites, which is not a certain number, but a number expressing a numberless multitude, this number, and that numberless multitude spoken of after, of all nations, which none could number, is all one; and both making up the great and glorious body of all saints, import and present thus much in general, That howsoever God inflict great and heavy calamities in this world, to the shaking of the best moral and Christianly constancies and consciences, yet all his saints, being eternally known by him, shall be sealed by him, that is, so assured of his assistance, by a good using of those helps which he shall afford them, in the Christian Church, intended in this sealing on the forehead, that those afflictions shall never separate them from him, nor frustrate his determination, nor disappoint his gracious purpose upon them, all them, this multitude, which no man could number.

1 Irenseus. * Dan. xii. 4.

VOL. II. T

To come then to the words themselves, we see the safety, and protection of the saints of God, and his children, in the person and proceeding of our protector, in that it is in the hands of an angel, (/ saw another angel) and an angel of that place, that came from the east; the east that is the fountain of all light and glory, (/ saw another angel come from the east) and as the word doth naturally signify, (and is so rendered in this last translation) ascending from the east, that is, growing and increasing in strength; after that we shall consider our assurance in the commission and power of this angel, he had the seal of the livina God; and then in the execution of this commission ; in which we shall see first, who our enemies were; they were also angels, (this angel cried to other angels) able to do much by nature, because angels; then we shall see their number, they were four angels, made stronger by joining (this angel cried to those four angels). And besides their malignant nature, and united concord, two shrewd disadvantages, mischievous and many, they had a power, a particular, an extraordinary power given them, at that time, to do hurt (four angels, to whom power was given to hurt) and to do general, universal hurt, (power to hurt the earth, and the sea). After all this we shall see this protector, against these enemies, and their commission, execute his, first by declaring and publishing it, (he cried with a loud voice) and then lastly, what his commission was; it was, to stay those four angels, for all their commission, from hurting the earth, and the sea, and the trees. But yet, this is not for ever; it is but till the servants of God were sealed in the forehead; that is, till God had afforded them such helps, as that by a good use of them they might subsist; which if they did not, for all their sealing in the forehead, this angel will deliver them over to the other four destroying angels. Of which sealing, that is, conferring of grace and helps against those spiritual enemies, there is a pregnant intimation, that it is done by the benefit of the Church, and in the power of the Church, which is no singular person, in that, upon the sudden, the person and the number is varied in our text; and this angel, which when he is said to ascend from the east, and to cry with a loud voice, is still a singular angel, one angel, yet when he comes to the act of sealing in the forehead, to the dispensing of sacraments, and sacramental assistances, he does that as a plural person, he represents more, the whole Church, and therefore says here, Stay, hurt nothing, till we, we have sealed the servants of our, our God in their foreheads. And by all these steps must we pass through this garden of flowers, this orchard of fruits, this abundant text.

First then, man being compassed with a cloud of witnesses of his own infirmities, and the manifold afflictions of this life, (for, Dies diei eriictat verbum, Day unto day uttereth the same, and night unto night teacheth knowledge*, the bells tell him in the night, and fame tells him in the day, that he himself melts and drops away piece-meal in the departing of parents, and wife, and children out of this world, yea he hears daily of a worse departing, he hears of the defection, and backsliding of some of his particular acquaintance in matter of religion, or of their stifmess and obduration in some course of sin, which is the worse consumption, Dies diei eructat, every day makes him learneder than other in this sad knowledge, and he knows withal, Quod cuiquam accidere potest, cuivis potest, that any of their cases may be his case too) man that is compassed with such a cloud of such witnesses, had need of some light to show him the right way, and some strength to enable him to walk safely in it. And this light and strength is here proposed in the assistance of an angel. Which being first understood of angels in general, affords a great measure of comfort to us, because the angels are seduli animce pedissequce*, faithful and diligent attendants upon all our steps. They do so, they do attend the service and good of man, because it is illorvm optimum, it is the best thing that angels (as angels) can do, to do so: For evermore it is best for everything to do that for which it was ordained and made ; and they were made angels for the service and assistance of man. Unum tut et angeli optimum est; Man and angels have one and the same thing in them, which is better than anything else that they have ; nothing hath it but they, and both they have it. Deits nihil sui optimum habet; unum optimum totus; It is not so with God ; God hath nothing in him that is best; but he is altogether one entire best. But man and angels

0 Psal xix. 2. * Bernard.

have one thing common to them both, which is the best thing that naturally either of them hath, that is, reason, understanding, knowledge, discourse, consideration. Angels and men have grace too, that is infinitely better than their reason ; but though grace be the principal in the nature and dignity thereof, yet it is but accessory to an angel, or to man; grace is not in their nature at first, but infused by God, not to make them angels and men, but to make them good angels, and good men. This very reason then, which is Illorum optimum, The best thing that angels, as angels, naturally have, teaches them, that the best thing that they can do, is the performance of that for which they were made. And then howsoever they were made spirits for a more glorious use, to stand in the presence of God, and to enjoy the fulness of that contemplation, yet he made his spirits angels, for the love which he had to be with the sons of men. Sufficit illis, etpro magno habeant*, Let this content the angels, and let them magnify God for this, Qttod cum spiritus sint condition*, ex gratia facti sunt angeli, That whereas by nature they are but spirits, (and the devil is so) by favour and by office they are made angels, messengers from God to man.

Now as the angels are not defective in their best part, their reason, and therefore do their office in assisting us, so also let us exalt our best part, our reason too, to reverence them with a care of doing such actions only as might not be unfit for their presence. Both angels and we have the image of God imprinted in us; the angels have it not in summo, though they have it in tuto; They have it not in the highest degree, (for so Christ only is the image of the inTisible God*) but they have it in a deep impression, so as they can neither lose it, nor deface it. We have this image of God so as that we cannot lose it, but we may, and do deface it; Uri potest, non exuri7; The devil hath this image in him, and it cannot be burnt out in hell; for it is imprinted in the very natural faculties of the soul. But if we consider how many waters beat upon us in this world to wash off this image, how many rusty and habitual sins gnaw upon us, to eat out this image, how many files pass over our souls in calamities, and afflictions, in which though God have a purpose, Resculpere imaginem*, to re-engrave, to refresh, to polish this image in us, by those corrections, yet the devil hath a harsh file too, that works a murmuring, a comparing of our sins with other men's sins, and our punishments with other men's punishments, and at last, either denying of Providence; that things so unequally carried cannot be governed by God, or a wilful renouncing of it in desperation, that his Providence cannot be resisted, and therefore it is all one what we do, if we consider this, we had need look for assistants.

5 Bernard. * Colos. i. 15. 1 Bernard.

Let us therefore look first to that which is best in us naturally, that is, reason; for if we lose that, our reason, our discourse, our consideration, and sink into an incapable and barren stupidity, there is no footing, no subsistence for grace. All the virtue of corn is in the seed; but that will not grow in water, but only in the earth: all the good of man, considered supernaturally, is in grace; but that will not grow in a washy soul, in a liquid, in a watery, and dissolute, and scattered man. Grace grows in reason; in that man, and in that mind, that considers the great treasure, what it is to have the image of God in him, naturally; for even that is our earnest of supernatural perfection. And this image of God, even in the angels, being reason, and the best act of rectified reason, the doing of that for which they were made, it is that which the angels are, naturally inclined to do, to bo always present for the assistance of man ; for therefore they are angels. And since they have a joy at the conversion of a sinner, and everything affects joy, and therefore they endeavour our conversion, yea, since they have an increase of their knowledge by being about us, (for, St. Paul says, That he was made a preacher of the Gospel, to the intent that angels might know, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God*) and everything affects knowledge, these saints of God upon earth, intended in our text, might justly promise themselves a strong and a blessed comfort, and a happy issue in all tribulations, by this Scripture, if there were no more intended in it, but only the assistance of angels; / saw an angel.

But our security of deliverance is in a safer, and a stronger

0 Augustine. ' Eph. in. 10.

hand than this; not in these ministerial, and missive angels only; but in his that sends them, yea, in his that made them; By whom, and for whom, they, and the thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, and all things were created, and in whom they consistTM. For, as the name of angel is attributed to Christ, Angelus Testamenti, the angel of the covenant"; and many of those miraculous passages in the deliverances of Israel out of Egypt, which were done by the second Person in the Trinity, by Christ, in Exodus, are by Moses there, and in the abridgment of that story by Stephen, after1*, attributed to angels, so in this text, this angel, which doth so much for God's saints, is, not inconveniently, by many expositors, taken to be our Saviour Christ himself. And will any man doubt of performance of conditions in him ? will any man look for better security than him, who puts two, and two such into the band, Christ, and Jesu-s; an anointed king, able, an actual Saviour, willing to discharge, not his, but our debt ? He is a double person, God and man; He engages a double pawn, the Old, and the New Testament, the law, and the Gospel; and you may be bold to trust him, that hath paid so well before; since you see a performance of the prophecies of the Old Testament, in the free and glorious preaching of the Gospel, trust also in a performance of the promises of the Gospel, in timely deliverances in this life, and an infallible, and eternal reposedness, in the life to come. He took our nature, that he might know our infirmities experimentally; he brought down a better nature, that he might recover us, restore us powerfully, effectually; and that he might be sure to accomplish his work, he brought more to our reparation, than to our first building, the Godhead wrought as much in our redemption, as in our creation, and the manhood more; for it began but then. And to take from us all doubt of his power, or of his will in our deliverance, he hath taken the surest way of giving satisfaction, he hath payed beforehand; Vere tulit, He hath truly borne all our infirmities", He hath, already; And with his stripes are we healed; we that are here now, are healed by his stripes received sixteen hundred years since. Nay, he was Occisus ab

10 Col. i. 16, 17. " Mal.iii. 1.

» Acts Tii. 1* Isaiah liii. 4.

origins, The Lamb slain from the beyinnlnrt of the world1*; That day that the frame of the world was fully set up in the making of man, that day that the fairest piece of that frame fell down again, in the fall of Adam, that day that God repaired this ruin again, in the promise of a Messias, (all which we take ordinarily to have fallen in one day, the sixth day) that day, in that promise, was this Lamb slain, and all the debts not only of our forefathers, and ours, but of the last man, that shall be found alive at the last day, were then paid, so long beforehand.

This security then, for our deliverance and protection, we have in this angel in our text, (I saw an angel) as this angel is Christ; but yet we have also another security, more immediate, and more applicable to us. As men that lend money in the course of the world, have a desire to have a servant in-the band with the master, not that they hope for the money from him, but that they know better how to call upon him, and how to take hold of him: so besides this general assistance of angels, and besides this all-sufficiency of the angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus, wo have, for our security, in this text, (/ saw an angel) the servants of Christ too; this angel is the minister of his word, the administerer of his sacraments, the mediator between Christ and man, he is this angel, as St. John, so often in the Revelation, and the Holy Ghost in other places of Scripture, styles them; this angel is indeed, the whole frame, and hierarchy of the Christian Church. For though this angel be called in this text The'Anael, in the singular, yet, (to make use of one note by anticipation now, though in our distribution of the branches, we reserved it to the end, because it fits properly our present consideration) though this angel be named in the singular, and so may seem to be restrained to Christ alone, yet we see, the office, when it comes to execution after, is diffused, and there are more in the commission; for those phrases, that we, we may seal, the servants of our, our God, have a plurality in them, a consent, a harmony, and imply a congregation, and do better agree with the ministry of the Church, than with the person of Christ alone.

So then, to let go none of our assistants, our sureties, our safety

14 Apoc. xiii. 8.

is in the Angel of the Covenant, Christ Jesus, radically, fundamentally, meritoriously; it is in the ministry of the angels of heaven invisihly; but it is in the Church of God, and in the power of his ministers there, manifestly, sensibly, discernibly; They should seek the law at the pries fs mouth", (they should, and therefore they are to blame that do not, but fly to private expositions). But why should they? Quia angelus domini exercituum, (as it follows there) Because the priest is the angel of the Lord of Hosts. Yea, the Gospel which they preach, is above all messages, which an angel can bring of himself: If an angel from heaven preach otherwise unto you, than we have preached, let him be accursedTM. The ministry of celestial angels is inferior to the ministry of the ecclesiastical; the Gospel (which belongs to us) is truly evangelium, the good ministry of good angels, the best ministry of the best angels; for though we compare not with those angels in nature, we compare with them in office ; though our offices tend to the same end (to draw you to God) yet they differ in the way; and though the service of those angels, enlighten your understanding, and assist your belief too, yet in the ministry of these angels in the church, there is a blessed fulfilling, and verification of those words, Now is salvation nearer, than when we believed11. You believe, because those celestial angels have wrought invisibly upon you, and dispersed your clouds, and removed impediments. You believe, because the great angel Christ Jesus, hath left his history, his action, and passion written for you; and that is a historical faith. But yet salvation is nearer to you, in having all this applied to you, by them, who are like you, men, and there, where you know how to fetch it, the church ; that as you believe by reading the Gospels at home, that Christ died for the world, so you may believe, by hearing here, that he died for you. This is God's plenteous redemption, Quod linguam meam assumsit in opussuum"; That having so great a work to do, as the salvation of souls, he would make use of my tongue; and being to save the world by his word, that I should speak that word. Docendo ros, quod per se facilins et suavius posset, That he calls me up hither, to teach you that which he

15 Mai. ii. 7. " Gal. i. 8.

17 Rom. xiii. 11. "1 Bernard.

could teach you better, and sooner, at home, by his Spirit; Indulgentia ejus est, non indic/entia, It is the largeness of his mercy towards you, not any narrowness in his power that he needs rue. And so have you this angel in our text, in all the acceptations, in which our expositors have delivered him: it is Christ, it is the angels of heaven, it is the ministry of the Gospel; and this angel, whosoever, whatsoever, St. John saw come from the East, (/ saw an angel come from the East) which was our second branch, and falls next into consideration.

This addition is intended for a particular addition to our comfort ; it is a particular endowment, or enlargement of strength and power in this angel, that he comes from t/ie East. If we take it, (to go the same way that we went before) first of natural angels, even the western angels, Qui habuere omasum, Those angels which have had their sunset, their fall, they came from the East too; Quomodo cecidisti de cado, Lucifer fili us orient is! How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, the son of the morningTM I He had his begetting, his creation in the East, in the light, and there might have stayed, for any necessity of falling, that God laid upon him. Take the angel of the text to be the angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus, and his name is the East; he cannot be known, he cannot be said to have any west. Ecce vir, Oriens nomen ejus, (so the vulgate reads that place) Behold the Man, whose name is the EastTM; you can call him nothing else; for so, the other Zachary, the Zachary of the New Testament calls him too, Per viscera misericord/ce, Through the tender bowels of his mercy, Visitavit nos Oriens, The East, the dayspring from on high hath visited us"; and he was derived a Patre luminum, He came from the East, begotten from all eternity of the Father of lights, / came out from the Father, and came into the worldTM. Take this angel to be the preacher of the Gospel, literally, really, the Gospel came out of the East, where Christ lived and died; and typically, figuratively, Paradise, which also figured the place, to which the Gospel is to carry us, heaven, that also was planted in the East; and therefore St. Basil assigns that for the reason, why in the church service we turn to the East

19 Isaiah xiv. 12. " Zech. vi. 12.

*1 Luke i. 78. ** John xvi 28.

when we pray, Quia antiquam requirimitt patriam, We look towards our ancient country, where the Gospel of our salvation was literally acted, and accomplished, and where heaven, the end of the Gospel, was represented in Paradise. Every way the Gospel is an angel of the East.

But this is that which we take to be principally intended in it, that as the East is the fountain of light, so all our illumination is to be taken from the Gospel. Spread we this a little thinner, and we shall better see through it. If the calamities of the world, or the heavy consideration of thine own sins, have benumbed and benighted thy soul in the vale of darkness, and in the shadow of death; if thou think to wrestle and bustle through these strong storms, and thick clouds, with a strong hand; if thou think thy money, thy bribes shall conjure thee up stronger spirits than those that oppose thee; if thou seek ease in thy calamities, that way to shake and shipwreck thine enemies; in these cross winds, in these countermines, (to oppress as thou art oppressed) all this is but a turning to the north, to blow away and scatter these sadnesses, with a false, an illusory, and a sinful comfort. If thou think to ease thyself in the contemplation of thine honour, thine offices, thy favour, thy riches, thy health, this is but a turning to the south, the sunshine of worldly prosperity. If thou sink under thy afflictions, and canst not find nourishment, but poison, in God's corrections, nor justice, but cruelty, in his judgments, nor mercy, but slackness, in his forbearance till now ; if thou suffer thy soul to set in a cloud, a dark cloud of ignorance of God's providence and proceedings, or in a darker, of diffidence of his performance towards thee, this is a turning to the west, and all these are perverse and awry. But turn to the East, and to the angel that comes from thence, the ministry of the Gospel of Christ Jesus in his church ; it is true, thou mayest find some dark places in the Scriptures; and, Est silentii species obscuritas**, To speak darkly and obscurely is a kind of silence, I were as good not be spoken to, as not be made to understand that which is spoken, yet fix thyself upon this angel of the East, the preaching of the Word, the ordinance of God, and thine understanding shall be enlightened, and thy belief established, and thy conscience thus

"Basil.

far unburdened, that though the sins which thou hast done, cannot be undone, yet neither shalt thou be undone by them; there, where thou art afraid of them, in judgment, they shall never meet thee; but as in the round frame of the world, the farthest West is East, where the West ends, the East begins, so in thee, (who art a world too) thy West and thy East shall join, and when thy sun, thy soul comes to set in thy death-bed, the Sun of Grace shall suck it up into glory.

Our angel comes from the East, (a denotation of splendour, and illustration of understanding, and conscience) and there is more, he comes ascending, (I saw an angel ascend from the East) that is, still growing more clear, and more powerful upon us. Take the angel here of natural angels; and then, when the witch of Endor (though an evil spirit appeared to her) yet saw him appear so, ascending, she attributes that glory to it, / see gods ascending out of the earth". Take the angel to be Christ, and then, his ascension was Felix clausula totius itinerant", The glorious shutting up of all his progress; and though his descending from heaven to earth, and his descending from earth to hell gave us our title, his ascending, by which he carried up our flesh to the right hand of his Father, gave us our possession; his descent, his humiliation gave us jus ad rem, but his ascension jus in re. But as this angel is the ministry of the Gospel, God gave it a glorious ascent in the primitive church, when as this sun Exultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam", ascended quickly beyond the reach of heretics' wits, and persecutors' swords, and as glorious an ascent in the Reformation, when in no long time, 'the number of them that had forsaken Rome, was as great as of them that stayed with her.

Now to give way to this ascent of this angel in thyself, make the way smooth, and make thy soul supple; find thou a growth of the Gospel in thy faith, and let us find it in thy life. It is not in thy power to say to this angel, as Joshua said to the sun, Siste, stand still"; it will not stand still; if thou fmd it not ascending, it descends; if thy comforts in the Gospel of Christ Jesus grow not, they decay; if thou profit not by the Gospel, thou losest by

*4 1 Sam. xxviii. 13. " Bernard.

28 Psal. six. 6. *7 Josh. x. 12.

it; if thou live not by it, (nothing can redeem thee) thou diest by it. We speak of going up and down a stair; it is all one stair; of going to, and from the city; it is all one way; of coming in, and going out of a house; it is all one door: so is there a savour of life unto life, and a savour of death unto death in the Gospel; but it is all one Gospel. If this angel of the East have appeared unto thee, (the light of the Gospel have shined upon thee) and it have not ascended in thee, if it have not made thee wiser and wiser, and better and better too, thou hast stopped that light, vexed, grieved, quenched that spirit; for the natural progress of this angel of the East is to ascend; the natural motion and working of the Gospel is, to make thee more and more confident in God's deliverance, less and less subject to rely upon the weak helps, and miserable comforts of this world. To this purpose this angel ascends, that is, proceeds in the manifestation of his power, and of his readiness to succour us. Of his power in this, that he hath the seals of the living God; / saw an angel ascending from the East, which had the seal of the living God; which is our next consideration.

Of the living God. The gods of the nations are all dead gods; either such gods as never had life, (stones, and gold and silver) or such gods at best, as were never gods till they were dead; for men that had benefited the world, in any public and general invention, or otherwise, were made gods after their deaths; which was a miserable deification, a miserable godhead that grew out of corruption, a miserable eternity that begun at all, but especially that begun in death; and they were not gods till they died. But our angel had the seal of the living God, that is, power to give life to others. Now, if we seek for this seal in the natural angels, they have it not; for this seal is some visible thing whereby we are assisted to salvation, and the angels have no such. They are made keepers of this seal sometimes, but permanently they have it not. This seal of comfort was put into an angel's hand, when he was to set a mark npon the foreheads of all them that mourned"; he had a visible thing, ink, to mark them withal. But it was not said to him, Vade et signa omnes creaturas, Go, and set this mark upon every creature, as it was to the minister of the Gospel,

» Ezek. ix. 4.

Go, and preach to every creatureTM. If we seek this seal in the great angel, the angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus: it is true he hath it, for, Omnis potestas data, All poieer is given unto me, in heaven, and in earth" ; and, Omne judicium, The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son*1; Christ, as the Son of man, executes a judgment, and hath a power, which he hath not hut by gift, by commission, by virtue of this seal, from his Father. But, because it is not only so in him, that he hath the seal of the living God, but he is this seal himself, (He is the image of the invisible God**; he is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his Person**,) it is not only his commission that is sealed, but his nature, he himself is sealed, (Him hath God the Father sealed**,) since, I say, natural angels though they have sometimes this seal, they have it not always, they have not a commission from God, to apply his mercies to man, by any ordinary and visible means, since the angel of the covenant, Christ Jesus, hath it, but hath it so, as that he is it too, the third sort of angels, the church-angels, the ministers of the Gospel, are they, who most properly can be said to have this seal by a fixed and permanent possession, and a power to apply it to particular men, in all emergent necessities, according to the institution of that living God, whose seal it is.

Now the great power which is given by God, in giving this seal to these angels, hath a lively representation (such as a shadow can give) in the history of Joseph. Pharaoh says to him, Thou shalt be over my house, and over all the land of Egypt", (steward of the king's house, and steward of the kingdom) And at thy word shall all my people be armed, (constable and marshal too) and to invest him in all these, and more, Pharaoh gave him his ring, his seal; not his seal only to those several patents to himself, but the keeping of that seal for the good of others; this temporal seal of Pharaoh was a representation of the seal of the living God. But there is a more express type of it in Exodus; Thou shalt grave (says God to Moses0*) upon a plate of pure gold as signets are graved, holiness to the Lord; and it shall be upon the

** Mark xvi. 15. ao Matt, xxviii. 18. " John v. 22.

" Coloss. i. 15. " Heb. i. 3. M John vi. 27

*5 Gen. Xli. 40. M Exod. xxviii. 30.

forehead of Aaron; what to do ? That the people may be accepted of him. There must be a holiness to the Lord, and that presented by Aaron the priest to God, that the people may be acceptable to the Lord; so that this seal of the living God, in these angels of our text, is, the sacraments of the New Testament, and the absolution of sins, by which (when God's people come to a holiness to the Lord, in a true repentance, and that that holiness, that is, that repentance, is made known to Aaron, to the priest, and he presents it to the Lord) that priest, his minister seals to them, in those his ordinances, God's acceptation of this degree of holiness, he seals this reconciliation between God and his people. And a contract of future concurrence, with his subsequent grace. This is the power given by God to this ascending angel; and we extend that no further, but hasten to his haste, his readiness to succour us; in which, we proposed for the first consideration, that this angel of light manifested and discovered to us, who our enemies were : (He cried out to them who were ready to do mischief, with a loud voice) so that we might hear him, and know them.

Though in all court cases it be not good to take knowledge of enemies, (many times that is better forborne) yet in all cases, it is good to know them. Especially in our case in the text, because our enemies intended here, are of themselves, princes of darkness*1; they can multiply clouds, and disguisings, their kingdom is in the darkness, Sayittant in obscuro, They shoot in the dark", (I am wounded with a temptation, as with the plague, and I know not whence the arrow came) Collocavit me in obscuris, The enemy hath made my dwelling darkness*0, I have no window that lets in light, but then this angel of. light shows me who they are.

But then, if we were left to ourselves, it were but a little advantage to know who our enemies were, when we knew those enemies to be angels, persons so far above our resistance. For, but that St. Paul mollifies and eases it with a milder word, Eat nobis colluctatio", That we wrestle with enemies, (that thereby we might see our danger is but to take a fall, not a deadly wound, if we look seriously to our work; we cannot avoid falling into

*> Eph. vi. 12. *0 Psal. xi. 2.

" Psal. cxLiii. 3. « Eph. vi. 12.

sins of infirmity, but the death of habitual sin we may: Quare moriemini domus Israel ? ' He does not say, why would ye fall ? but why will ye die, ye house of Israel ?) it were a consideration enough to make us desperate of victory, to hear him say, that this (though it be but a wrestling) is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places. None of us hath got the victory over flesh and blood, and yet we have greater enemies than flesh and blood are. Some disciplines, some mortifications we have against flesh and blood ; we have St. Paul's probatum ett, his medicine, (if we will use it) Castigo corpus, I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection" ; for that we have some assistance; even our enemies become our friends; poverty or sickness will fight for us against flesh and blood, against our carnal lusts; but for these powers and principalities, I know not where to watch them, how to encounter them. I pass my time sociably and merrily in cheerful conversation, in music, in feasting, in comedies, in wantonness; and I never hear all this while of any power or principality, my conscience spies no such enemy in all this. And then alone, between God and me at midnight, some beam of his grace shines out Upon me, and by that light I see this prince of darkness, and then I find that I have been the subject, the slave of these powers and principalities, when I thought not of them. Well, I see them, and I try then to dispossess myself of them, and I make my recourse to the powerfullest exorcism that is, I turn to hearty and earnest prayer to God, and I fix my thoughts strongly (as I think) upon him, and before I have perfected one petition, one period of my prayer, a power and principality is got into me again. Spiritus soporis'*, The spirit of slumber closes mine eyes, and I pray drowsily; or spiritvs vertiginis4*, The spirit of deviation, and vain repetition, and I pray giddily, and circularly, and return again and again to that I have said before, and perceive not that I do so ; and nescio cujus tpiritus sim'4, (as our Saviour said, rebuking his disciples, who were so vehement for the burning of the Samaritans, you know not of what spirit you are) I pray, and know not of what spirit I am, I consider not mine.

41 1 Cor. ix. 27. 4* Isaiah xxix. 10.

43 Isaiah xix. 14. " Luke ix. 55.

own purpose in prayer; and by this advantage, this door of inconsideration, enters spiritus erroris", The seducing spirit, the spirit of error, and I pray not only negligently, but erroneously, dangerously, for such things as disconduce to the glory of God, and ray true happiness, if they were granted. Nay, even the prophet Hosea's spiritus fornicationumTM, enters into me, The spirit of fornication, that is, some remembrance of the wantonness of my youth, some misinterpretation of a word in my prayer, that may bear an ill-sense, some unclean spirit, some power or principality hath depraved my prayer, and slackened my zeal. And this is my greatest misery of all, that when that which fights for me, and fights against me too, sickness, hath laid me upon my last bed, then in my weakest estate, these powers and principalities shall be in their full practice against me. And therefore it is one great advancement of thy deliverance, to be brought by this angel, that is, by the ministry of the Gospel of Christ, to know that thou hast angels to thine enemies; and then another is to know their number, and so the strength of their confederacy; for, in the verse before the text, they are expressed to be four, (/ saw four angels, &c.)

Four legions of angels, four millions, nay, four creations of angels could do no more harm, than is intended in these four; for, (as it is said in the former verse) They stood upon the four corners of the earth, they bestrid, they cantoned the whole world. Thou hast opposite angels enow to batter thee every where, and to cut off and defeat all succours, all supplies, that thou canst procure, or propose to thyself; absolute enemies to one another will meet and join to thy ruin, and even presumption will induce desperation. We need not be so literal in this, as St. Hierome, (who indeed in that followed Origen) to think that there is a particular evil angel over every sin ; that because we find that mention of the spirit of error, and the spirit of slumber, and the spirit of fornication, we should therefore think that Christ meant by mammon", a particular spirit of covetousness, and that there be several princes over several sins. This needs not; when thou art tempted, nevertesk that spirit's name ; his name is Legion,

45 1 Tim. iv. 1. « Hosea iv. 12; v. 4. " Matt. vi. 24.

for he is many". Take thyself at the largest, as thou art a .world, there are four angels at thy four corners ; let thy four corners be thy worldly profession, thy calling, and another thy bodily refection, thy eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and a third thy honest and allowable recreations, and a fourth thy religious service of God in this place, (which two last, that is, recreation, and religion, God hath been pleased to join together in the Sabbath, in which he intended his own glory in our service of him, and then the rest of the creature too) let these four, thy calling, thy sleeping, thy recreation, thy religion be the four corners of thy world, and thou shalt find an angel of temptation at every corner; even in thy sleep, even in this house of God thou hast met them. The devil is no recusant; he will come to church, and he will lay his snares there ; When that day comes, that the sons of God present themselves before the Lord, Satan comes also among them4*. Not only so, St. Augustine confesses he met him at church, to carry wanton glances between men and women, but he is here, sometimes to work a mis-interpretation in the hearer, sometimes to work an affectation in the speaker, and many times doth more harm by a good sermon than by a weak, by possessing the hearers with an admiration of the preacher's gifts, and neglecting God's ordinance. And then it is not only their natural power, as they are angels, nor their united power, as they are many, nor their politic power, that in the midst of that confusion which is amongst them, yet they agree together to ruin us, but (as it follows in our text) it is Potestas data, A particular power, which, besides their natural power, God, at this time, put into their hands ; {He cried to the four angels, to whom power was given to hurt) all other angels had it not, nor had these four that power at all times, which, in our distribution at first we made a particular consideration.

It was potestas data, a special commission that laid Job open to Satan's malice ; it was potestas data, a special commission, that laid the herd of swine open to the devil's transportation" : much more, no doubt, have the particular saints of God in the assistances of the Christian church, (for Job had not that assistance, being not within the covenant) and most of all hath the church of God herself, an ability, in some measure, to defend itself against many machinations and practices of the devil, if it were not for this potestas data, that God, for his further glory, in the trial of his saints, and his church, doth enable the devil to raise whole armies of persecutors, whole swarms of heretics, to sting and wound the church, beyond that ordinary power, which, the devil in nature hath. That place, Curse not the kiug, no, not in thought, for that which hath tctnas shall tell the matter", is ordinarily understood of angels ; that angels shall reveal disloyal thoughts; now, naturally angels do not understand thoughts; but, in such cases, there is potestas data, a particular power given them to do it; and so to evil angels, for the accomplishment of God's purposes, there is potestas data, a new power given, a new commission, that is beyond permission; for, though by God's permission mine eye see, and mine ear hear, yet my hand could not see nor hear by God's permission; for permission is but tho leaving of a thing to the doing of that, which by nature, if there be no hinderance interposed, it could, and would do.

** Mark v. 9. " Job i. 6. M Matt. viii. 32.

VOL. II. U

This comfort then, and this hope of deliverance hast thou here, that this angel in our text, that is, the ministry of the Gospel, tells thee, that that rage which the devil uses against thee now, is but potestas data, a temporary power given him for the present; for, if thy afflictions were altogether from the natural malice and power of the devil, inherent in him, that malice would never end, nor thy affliction neither, if God should leave all to him. And therefore though those our afflictions be heavier, which proceed ex potestate data, when God exalts that power of the devil, which naturally he hath, with new commissions, besides his permission to use his natural strength, and natural malice, yet our deliverance is the nearer too, because .ill these accessory and occasional commissions are for particular ends, and are limited, how far they shall extend, how long they shall endure. Here, the potestas data, the power which was given to these angels, was large, it was general, for, (as it is in the former verse) it was a power to hold the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. What this withholding

51 Eccles. x. 20.

of the wind signifies, and the damnification of that, is our next consideration.

By the land, is commonly understood all the inhabitants of the land ; by the sea, islanders, and sea-faring men, half inhabitants of the sea; and by the trees, all those whom persecution had driven away, and planted in the wilderness. The hinderance of the use of the wind, being taken by our expositors to be a general impediment of the increase of the earth, and of commerce at sea. But this Book of the Revelation must not be so literally understood, as that the winds here should signify merely natural winds; there is more in this than so; thus much more, that this withholding of the winds, is a withholding of the preaching and passage of the Gospel: which is the heaviest misery that can fell upon a nation, or upon a man, because thereby, by the misery of not hearing, he loses all light, and means of discerning his own misery. Now as all the parts, and the style and phrase of this Book is figurative and metaphorical, so is it no unusual metaphor, even in other Books of the Scripture too, to call the ministers, and preachers of God's word, by the name of winds. Arise 0 North, and come 0 South, and blow on my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out", hath always been understood to be an invitation, a compellation from Christ to his ministers, to dispense and convey salvation, by his Gospel, to all nations. And upon those words, Producit ventos, He bringeth winds out of his treasuries", and Educit nubes, He bringeth clouds from the ends of the earth, Puto prcedieatores et nubes et ventos, says St. Augustine, I think that the Holy Ghost means both by his clouds, and by his ivinds, the preachers of his word, the ministers of the Gospel, N ubes propter carnem, ventos propter spiritum; Clouds because their bodies are seen, winds because their working is felt; Nubes cernuntur, venti sentiuntur; As clouds they embrace the whole visible church, and are visible to it; as winds they pierce into the invisible church, the souls of the true saints of God, and work, though invisibly, upon them. So also those words, God rode upon a cherub, and did fly, he did fly upon the wings of the wind", have been well interpreted of God's being pleased

M Cant. iv. 16. 5* Psal. cxxxv. ^. " Psal . xviii. 10.

to be carried from nation to nation, by the service of his ministers.

Now this is the nature of this wind, (of the Spirit of God breathing in his ministers) Spirat ubi vult", That it blows where it lists ; and this is the malice of these evil angels, that it shall not do so. But this angel, which hath the seal of the living God, that is, the ministry of the Gospel established by him, shall keep the winds at their liberty; and howsoever waking dreamers think of alterations and tolerations, howsoever men that disguise their expectations with an outward conformity to us, may think the time of declaring themselves grosvs on apace; howsoever the slumbering of capital laws, and reason of state may suffer such mistakers to flatter themselves, yet God hath made this angel of the East, this Gospel of his to ascend so far now, and to take so deep root, as that now this one angel is strong enough for the other four, that is, the sincere preaching of the Gospel, in our settled and well disciplined church, shall prevail against those four pestilent opposites, atheists, and papists, and sectaries, and carnal indifferent men, who all would hinder the blowing of this wind, the effect of this Gospel. And to this purpose our angel in the text is said to have cried with a loud voice, (He cried with a loud voice to the four angels).

For our security therefore that this wind shall blow still, that this preaching of the Gospel which we enjoy shall be transferred upon our posterity in the same sincerity, and the same integrity, there is required an assiduity, and an earnestness in us, who are in that service now, in which this angel was then, in our preaching. Clamavit, our angel cried, (it was his first act, nothing must retard our preaching) and Voce magna, He cried with a loud voice; (he gave not over with one calling) What is this crying aloud in our angel ? Vocis modum, audientium necessitas definit**; The voice must so loud, as they, to whom we speak, are quick or thick of hearing. Submissa, quce ad susurrum proprie accedit, damnanda, A whispering voice was not the voice of this angel, nor must it be of those angels that are figured in him; for that is a voice of a conventicle, not a church voice. That is

" John iii. 8. » Basil.

a loud voice that is heard by them whom it concerns. So the catechizing of children, though in a familiar manner, is a loud voice, though it be not a sermon : so writing in defence of our religion, is a loud voice, though in the mean time a man intermit his preaching : so the speaking by another, when sickness or other services withhold him that should, and would speak, is a loud voice even from him.

And therefore though there be no evident, no imminent danger of withholding these winds, of inhibiting or scanting the liberty of the Gospel, yet because it is wished by too many, and because we can imagine no punishment too great for our neglecting the Gospel, it becomes us, the ministers of God, by all these loud voices, of catechizing, of preaching, of writing, to cry, and to cry, (though not with vociferations, or seditious jealousies and suspicions of the present government) yet to cry so loud, so assiduously, so earnestly, as all whom it concerns (and it concerns all) may hear it: hurt not the earth, withhold not the winds, be you no occasions, by your neglecting the Gospel of Christ Jesus, that he suffer it to be removed from you; and know withal, that you do neglect this Gospel, (how often soever you hear it preached) if you do not practise it. Nor is that a sufficient practice of hearing, to desire to hear more, except thy hearing bring thee to leave thy sins ; without that, at the last day thou shalt meet thy sermons amongst thy sins ; and when Christ Jesus shall charge thee with false weights and measures in thy shop all the week, with prevarication in judgment, with extortion in thy practice, and in thine office, he shall add to that, and besides this, thou wast at church twice that Sunday; when he shall have told thee, Thou didst not feed me, thou didst not clothe me, he shall aggravate all with that, Yet thou heardst two sermons that Sunday, besides thine interlineary week lectures. The means to keep this wind awake, (to continue the liberty of the Gospel) is this loud voice, (assiduous and pertinent preaching) but sermons unpractised are three-piled sins, and God shall turn, as their prayers, so their preaching, into sin. For this injunction, this inhibition which this angel serves upon the four angels, That they should not hurt the world by withholding the winds, that js, not hinder the propagation and passage pf the Gospel, was not perpetual; it was limited with a donee, till something were done in the behalf and favour of the world, and that was, till the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads, which is our last consideration.

The servants of God being sealed in their foreheads in the sacrament of baptism, when they are received into the care of the church, all those means which God hath provided for his servants, in his church, to resist afflictions and temptations, are intended to be conferred upon them in that seal; this sealing of them is a communicating to them all those assistances of the Christian church : then they have a way of prevention of sin, by hearing; a way to absolution, by confession ; a way to reconciliation, by a worthy receiving the body and blood of Christ Jesus: and these helps of the Christian church, thus conferred in baptism, keep open still, (if these be rightly used) that other seal, the seal of the Spirit; After ye heard the Gospel, and believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise": and so also, God hath anointed us, and sealed us, and given us the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts"- So that besides the seal in the forehead, which is an interest and title to all the assistances and benefits of the church, public prayer, preaching, sacraments and sacramental helps, there is a seal of the Spirit of God, that that Spirit bears witness with my spirit, that I perform the conditions passed between God and me, under the first seal, my baptism. But because this second seal, (the obsignation and testification of the inward spirit) depends upon the good use of the first seal, (the participation of the helps of the church, given me in baptism) therefore the doneo in our text, (Hurt them not till they be sealed) reaches but to the first seal, the seal of baptism, and in that, of all God's ordinary graces, ordinarily exhibited in hie ordinances.

So then, this angel takes care of us, till he have delivered us over to the sweet and powerful helps of that church, which God hath purchased with his blood ; when he hath placed us there, he looks that we should do something for ourselves, which, before we were there, and made partakers of God's graces in his church by baptism, we could not do; for in this, this angel's commission

57 Ephes. i. 13. TM 2 Cor. L 22.

determines, that we be sealed in the foreheads, that we be taken from the common, into God's inclosures, impaled in his park, received into his .church, where our salvation depends upon the good use of those means. Use therefore those means well; and put not God to save thee, by a miracle, without means. Trust not to an irresistible grace, that at one time or other God will have thee, whether thou wilt or no. Tolle voluntatem, et lion estinfernusM; If thou couldst quench thine own will, thou hadst quenched hell; if thou couldst be content, willing to be in hell, hell were not hell. So, if God save a man against his will, heaven is not heaven ; if he be loath to come thither, sorry that he shall be there, he hath not the joy of heaven, and then heaven is not heaven. Put not God to save theo by miracle ; God can save an image by miracle; by miracle he can make an image a man ; if man can make God of bread, certainly God can make a man of an image, and so save him; but God hath made thee his own image, and afforded thee means of salvation : use them. God compels no man. The master of the feast invited many"1; solemnly, before hand; they came not: he sent his servants to call in the poor, upon the sudden; and they came: so he receives late comers. And there is a compella intrare, he sends a servant to compel some to come in. But that was but a servant's work, the master only invited; he compelled none. We the servants of God, have certain compulsories, to bring men hither ; the denouncing of God's judgments, the censures of the church, excommunications, and the rest, are compulsories. The state hath compulsories too, in the penal laws. But all this is but to bring them into the house, to church; compelle intrare. We can compel them to come to the first seal, to baptism; we can compel men, to bring their children to that sacrament; but to salvation, only the master brings; and (in that parable) the master does only invite; he compels none : though his corrections may seem to be compulsories, yet even his corrections are sweet invitations; his corrections are so far from compelling men to come to heaven, as that they put many men further out of their way, and work an obduration, rather than an obsequiousness.

» Bernard. M Luke xiv. 23.

With those therefore that neglect the means, that he hath brought them to, in sealing them in the forehead, this angel hath no more to do, hut gives them over to the power of the four destroying angels. With those that attend those means, he proceeds; and, in their behalf, his donee, (Spare them till I have sealed them) becomes the blessed Virgin's donee", she was a Virgin till she had her child, and a Virgin after too; and it becomes our blessed Saviour's donee", He sits at his Father's right hand, till his enemies be made his footstool, and after too; so these destroying angels, that had no power over them till they were sealed, shall have no power over them after they are sealed, but they shall pass from seal to seal; after that seal on the forehead, Ne erubetcant evanaelium, (We sign him with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified") he shall come also to those seals, which our Saviour recommends to his spouse, Set me as a seal on thy heart, and as a seal on thine arm"; St. Ambrose collects them, and connects them together, Sianaculum Christi in corde, ut di/iaamus, infronte, ut confiteamur, in brachio, ut operemur; God seals us in the heart, that we might love him, and in the forehead, that we might profess it, and in the hand, that we might declare and practise it; and then the whole purpose of this blessed angel in our text, is perfected in us, and we ourselves arc made partakers of the solemnity of this day, which we celebrate, for we ourselves enter in the communion of saints, by these three seals, of belief, of profession, of works and practice.