PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm xxxii. 7.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.
As rhetoric is said to be a fist extended and displayed into an open hand, and logic a hand re-collected, and contracted into a fist; so the church of God may be said to be a soul dilated and diffused into many congregations, and a soul may be said to be the church contracted and condensed into one bosom. So not only the Canticle of Solomon is taken indifferently by the ancient and later expositors, by some for an epithalamium, and marriage song between Christ and his church, by others, for the celebration of the same union between every Christian soul and him, but also many other places of Scripture have received such an indifferent interpretation, and are left in suspense, whether they be to be understood of the church in general, or of particular souls; and of this nature and number is this text, Thou art my hiding place, c/c. For St. Hiorome takes these words (and the wholo psalm) to be spoken collectively, others distributively; he in the person of the church, they of every, or at least of some particular souls. To examine their reasons is unnecessary, and would be tedious; it will ask less time, and afford more profit to consider the words both ways. In them therefore, considered twice over, wo shall see a threefold state of the Christian church, and a threefold mercy exhibited by God to every Christian soul. First, wo shall Vol, n?. D
see the church under the clouds, in her low estate, in her obscurity, in her inglorious state of contempt and persecution, and yet then supported by an assurance that God overshadowed her, Tu absconsio, tu latibulum, Thou art my hiding place; and in that first part we shall consider the state of a timorous soul, a soul that for fear of temptations dares scarce look into the world, or embrace a profession. Secondly, we shall see the church emancipated, enfranchised, unfettered, unmanacled, delivered from her obscure and inglorious state, and brought to splendour, and beauty, and peace, and blessing God in that acknowledgment, Thou shalt preserve one from trouble. And in that part, we shall consider the state of that soul exalted to a holy confidence and assurance, that though she come into the world, and partake of the dangers thereof, in opening herself to such temptations, as do necessarily and inseparably accompany every calling, yet tho Lord will preserve her from trouble. And thirdly and lastly, we shall see a kind of triumphant state in the church in this world, a holy exultation, God shall compass her with songs of deliverance. In which part, we shall also see the blessed state of that soul which is come, not to a presumptuous security, but to modest certainty of continuing in the same state still. And these will be our three parts in these words, as they receive a public accommodation to the church, and a more particular application to ourselves.
We enter into these considerations, with this observation, that as God himself is eternal and cannot be considered in the distinction of times, so hath that language in which God hath spoken in his written word, the Hebrew, the least consideration of time of any other language. Evermore in expressing the mercies of God to man, it is an indifferent thing to the Holy Ghost whether he speak in the present, or in the future, or in the time that is past: what mercies soever he hath given us, be will give us over again; and whatsoever he hath done, and will do, he is always ready to do at the present. This verse is especially an exultation for mercies past, and yet the two last clauses arc delivered in the future, Thou shalt preserve me, Thou shalt compass me, and tho first is delivered without any limitation at all; the present word, Thou art, is but inserted by our translators; in the original it is only, Tu refugium, Thou my hiding place, there is no fuisti, nor es, nor eris, that ho was, or is, or will be so, but it is an expressing of a perpetual and everlasting mercy, for his mercy endureth for ever.
First then, this is an acknowledgment of the church, contemplating herself in her low estate; for the word sether implies, Tu absconsio, Though I were in the dark, it was thou that didst overshadow me, though I were in danger, it was thou that didst hide me from them. This the church hath had occasion to say more than once; once in the primitive plantation thereof, and again in her reformation: at both times God showed mercy to her that way, in hiding her.
First then God hid the primitive church from the eye of envy, by keeping her poor; and from the eye of jealousy and suspicion, by keeping her in an humble devotion towards him. But yet even her poverty, and her humility hid her not so, but that persecution found her out, and raged so against her, as that those emperors which raised the ten persecutions against the church, seem to have laboured to have gone beyond God in the ten plagues of Egypt, and to have done more at Rome than he did there. All the power of the Roman world was bent against Christians; more home-Christians slain than foreign enemies. All the criminal justice of the world bent upon them; all other men's crimes, even Nero's burning of Rome, imputed to the Christians. All the wit of the world bent against them; all their epigrammatists, and satirists, having their wits exalted, with rage, with wine, with rewards, to multiply libels, and calumnies, and defamations upon the Christians. All the mechanics of that world bent against them; all the engineers employed to invent racks and tortures for the Christians. Truly, if I were to work upon heathen men, Western Americans, or Eastern Chinese, for their conversion to Christ, I should scarce adventure to propose to them the histories of the martyrs of the primitive church, because to men that had no taste of religion before, they would rather seem fables than truths; and I should as soon be believed, that a virgin had a son, or in any main article of our religion, as that man could inflict, or that man could bear such things, as we are sure the martyrs in the primitive church did. Then God hid the church; he hid her, in a great part in the wilderness, in hermitages, and such retirings, singly one by one; and after in penurious and obscure monasteries, many of these single hermits gathering themselves together into one house; when those monasteries were both schools of learning, and shops of manufactures; they taught and wrought in them; Nemo cuiquam onerosus', No man was a burden to any others, no man fed upon another's labours, nor drunk the sweat of another's brow: but, Operabantur manibus ea, quibn s et corpus pasci pomit, \ et a Deo men s impediri non possit, They laboured in such manufactures, as might sustain their bodies, and not withdraw their minds from the service of God. So God hid the church, not that the persecution did not find and lop off many a great, and top bough, but he hid the root, and prevented the extirpation of that tree, which his own right hand had planted.
Tu absconsio, Thou art my hiding place, says the primitive church, and so may the reformed church say too. For when the lloman church had made this latibulum, this hiding place, this refuge from persecution, hermitages and monasteries, to be the most conspicuous, the most glorious, the most eminent, the richest and most abundant places of the world; when they had drawn these, at first remote comers in the wilderness, first into the skirts, and suburbs, then into the body and heart of every great city; when for revenue and possession, they will confess, that some one monastery of the Benedictine had ten thousand of our pounds of yearly rent; when they were come for their hugo opulency to that height, that they were formidable to those states that harboured them, and for their numbers, (other orders holding proportion with that one) to reckon out of ono order, fifty-two popes, two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops and bishops, and almost three hundred emperors and kings, and their children, and fifty thousand declared and approved saints; when they were come to that over-valuation of their religious orders, as to say, that a monk, a friar merited more in his very sleep, or meals, than any secular man, (though a churchman too) did in his best works, that to enter into any order of religion was a second baptism, and wrought as much as the first; their revenue,
their number, their dignity being come to this, and then their viciousness, their sensuality, their bestiality, to as great a height and exaltation, as that; yet in the midst of all these, Tu absconsio mea, may the reformed church say, the Lord was their hiding place, that mourned for this, when they could not help, and at all times, and by all means that God afforded them, endeavoured to advance a reformation. And though God exposed them as a wood to be felled, to a slaughter of twenty, of forty, of sixty thousand in a day, yet Ille abscousio, He hath been our hiding place, he hath kept the root alive all the way; and though it hath been with a cloud, yet he hath covered us.
God came unto Moses, though ho came In caligine Nubis, In a thick cloud*; when the glory of the Lord is said to have filled the tabernacle, even that glory was a cloud3; and so it was in the second place of his worship too, in Solomon's tomple, that was filled with a cloud4. St. Chrysostom6 when ho considered that Christ ascended in a clouda, and that he shall return again in a cloudb, Paternum currum deligere voluit, The Son would mako use of his Father's chariot, and show mercy, nay show glory in a cloud, as his Father had done often. Tho primitive church, the reformed church, must not complain of having been kept under clouds; for Ille abscousio, God hath made those clouds their hiding place, and wrapped up the seed, and the root safe in that cloud. Though the church were trodden upon like a worm of tho earth, yet still she might hear God in that cloud, Noli timere vermis Jacob, Be not afraid thou worm of Jacob, for I will keep thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel3. God hid her then, and hath manifested now, that there was never any time, when he had not somo of his to oppose her tyranny and her idolatry. They can name no time, when we cannot name some such; and it would be much harder for them, to name men in every age, that have professed all the doctrines of the present Roman church, than for us to find men that have opposed those points that we oppose. Will they say, that these were too few, to constitute or establish, or give name to a church? They
were never so few, as Elias thought there had been in his timo, when he said, I only am left1; no nor so few, as God, for Elias' comfort, named to him, seven thousand; they were more than so, else they could not have found so many to kill, as they did. Howsoever, since so great schoolmen amongst them as Alexander Ales, and so great canonists amongst them, as Cardinal Turrecremata, with many others, (as they themselves call them) gravissimi theologi3, of the gravest divines, asseveranter affirmant, do dogmatically affirm, that during the time that Christ lay in the grave, there was no faith, and consequently no church, but only in one, in the person of the Virgin Mary; in relation to which it is, that in the ceremonies of the church, they put out all their candles but one, in the church, at that time, to denote that all the apostles lost their faith, and one, sho alone, retained one; if the church were then in one person, they may well afford a church to have consisted of such numbers, as the Lord did hide under his wings, all the stormy time of their persecutions.
Tu absconsio, may the primitive church, and the reformed church say, Thou hast been our hiding place, and so must every timorous soul too, (for you may remember, that those words are by our expositors ascribed to particular souls in the church, as well as to the church in general) every such soul, that for fear of temptations in the world, is loath to come abroad from its retiredness, and venture on the public view, must rely upon that, Tu absconsio, The Lord is able to hide them, able to cover them.
Jovinian the heretic whom St. Hierome opposed, would needs think, or at least say, that after baptism no man was tempted of the devil: not only not overcome, but not tempted. But our baptism does not drown the devil. Pauci inter athletas inexpugnabiles*, Few wrestlers that never took fall; none that may not, since we are all at best, but wrestlers. Vita hominis piraterium, says St. Ambrose10, what copy soever he followed. Others read it, Mails life is a warfare"; and that is labour enough, and danger enough. But to be still upon so inconstant an element as the water, and still pursued by pirates, or consorted with pirates, is moro; and Vita piraterium, says he,
7 1 Kings xix. 14. 0 Bi-ondus in Apoc. e. i. q. 11. * Chrysostom. 10 Ser. xI.ii. 11 Job vii. 1.
Man's life, every man's life, is spent amongst pirates, pursued by them, or consorted with them. The devil hath not a more subtile temptation to ensnaro me with, than to bring me to think myself temptation proof; above temptation. Nemo diu fortis est, is excellently said by the samo father: no man continues strong against temptations long. For when he sees, that some temptations have dono him no harm, he grows negligent and slack towards others. Infelix ego! vietorem me puto, dum capior 1*, Miserable mistaking man that I am! I think myself able to overcome any temptation, and I am overcome oven by that temptation of thinking so. I think myself conqueror, when I am captive, and am chained to the chariot, when I think I sit in it. Tranquillitas ista tempestas est, This calm is a storm, this security is a defeat; for it is one of David's heavy imprecations, Veniat Mi laqueus quem ignorat, Let him be catched in a snare, that he suspecteth not: destruction come upon him unawares", so we read it. We are tempted, and it is well that wo are so. Qui non est tentatus, quid scit1'? He is an ignorant soul, and knows nothing, that hath passed no temptations; nothing at all; not himself; Nescit se homo, nisi tentatione discat se]>, Except ho bo taught in that school, tho school of temptations, no man ever comes to know himself. So then, Laqueus est in securitate13; If I be secure, and negligent, that is a snare; but Laqueus in timore too, says he; it is a snare cast by tho devil's own hand, if I be over timorous, if upon pretence of hiding myself from temptations, I withdraw myself from the offices of mutual society. Tu absconsio, The Lord will be my hiding place from temptations that attempt me in my calling, but not to hide me from a calling. Scito quod in medio laqworum ingrederis", Know that thou walkest in the midst of snares, but yet thou must walk, walk in a calling. So St. Chrysostom reads that; and adds, he does not say, Vide, but Scito; he does not say, see them, for they are invisible; but know that there are snares, and be wary. And then, as St. Augustine says of tho whole church, (which was our first consideration) Ecclesia Catholica inter tentationes vivit, inter tentationes crescit, The whole church is in the midst of tempta
18 Hieron. "Psalm xxxv. 8.
15 Augustine. 14 Leo.
14 Eccles. xxxiv. 9. 17 Eccles. ix. 20.
tions, but lives and grows up in the midst of them: so, hear thy God say to thy soul, (which is the consideration that we are now upon) Son of man, though briers and thorns be with thee, though thou dwell among scorpions, be not afraid of their words, nor dismayed with their looks". Proceed in a lawful calling, and God shall hide thee though with his clouds: and though he cover thee with a cloud of poverty, with sickness, with disgrace, and if ho see no other cover safe, cover thee with the cloud of death, and the grave, all is to cover thee from the tempter, and thereby to preserve thee for himself, which is our second part, Thou art my hiding place, Thou shalt preserve me from trouble.
If we content ourselves with that word which our translators have chosen here, trouble, (Thou shalt preserve me from trouble) we must rest in one of these two senses; either that God shall arm, and induo those that are his, with such a constancy, as those things that trouble others, shall not trouble them, but, At the sufferings of Christ abound in them, so their consolation also aboundeth by Christ", As unknown, and yet well known, as dying, and behold we live, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things*0; for, God uses both these ways in the behalf of his servants; sometimes to suspend the working of that that should work their torment, as he suspended the rage of the lions for Daniel, and the heat of the fire in the furnace, for the others; sometimes by imprinting a holy stupefaction, and insensibleness in the person that suffers, so St. Laurence was not only patient, but merry and facetious when he lay broiling upon the fire, and so we read of many other martyrs, that they have been less moved, less affected with their torments, than their executioners or their persecutors have been; that which troubled others never troubled them; or else the phrase must have this sense, that though they be troubled with their troubles, though God submit them so far, to the common condition of men, that they be sensible of them, yet he shall preserve them from that trouble so, as that it shall never overthrow them, never sink them into a dejection of spirit, or diffidence in his mercy; they shall find storms, but a stout and strong ship under foot; they shall feel
16 Ezck. ii. 6. 10 2 Cor. i. 6. -0 2 Cor. vi. 9.
thunder and lightning, but garlands of triumphant bays shall preserve them; they shall be trodden into the earth with scorns and contempts, but yet as seed is buried, to multiply to more. So far this word of our translators assists our devotion, Thou shah preserve me from trouble, thou shalt make me insensible of it, or thou shalt make me victorious in it.
But the original word tzur hath a more peculiar sense; it signifies a strait, a narrowness, a difficulty, a distress; / am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan, says David", in this word, when he lamented his irremediable, his irrecoverable death. So is it also, Pangs have taken hold of me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth". And so the words grow to signify, Aciem gladii, Thou hast turned the edge of the sword**, and to signify the top and precipice of a rock; he clave the rocks in the wilderness". So that the word expresses augustiam, narrowness, pressure, precipitation, inextricableness, in a word, (that will best fit us) perplexity; and, the Lord shall preserve me from perplexity; and this may tho church, and this may every good soul comfort itself in, thou shalt preserve me from perplexity.
Consider it first in the church, and then in ourselves; and first in the primitive, and then in the reformed church. When God had brought his church, ex abscondito, from his hiding place, from poverty, and contempt, and solitariness, and glorified it in the eyes of the world, by many royal endowments and possessions, with which princes (then become Christians) and other great persons, piously and graciously invested her, though these were temptations to aspire to greater, yet God preserved her from perplexities of all kinds; from perplexing of princes with her claims, that they might not marry, nor make leagues, nor levy armies, but by her permission. The church called nothing her own, but that which God had called his, and given her, that is, tythes: all tho rest, she acknowledged to have received from the bounty of pious benefactors. This was her plea, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my strength, and my buckler, and my high tower'i. In all this inventory, in all this armoury, and furniture of the church, there is never a sword: rocks, and fortresses,
and bucklers, and towers, but no sword, no material sword in the church's hand; Arma nostra preces et fletus**; The church fought with nothing but prayers and tears. And as God delivered her from these perplexities, from perplexing the affairs of princes with her interest in their government: so ho delivered her from any perplexities in her own government. No usurpation, no offer of any prince that attempted to invade or violate the true right of the church, no practice of any heretics, how subtile, how potent soever, though they equalled, though they exceeded the church in number, and in power (as at some times tho Arians did) ever brought the church to a perplexity, or to an apprehension of any necessity, of yielding to sacrilegious princes, or to irreligious heretics in any point, to procure their peace, or to enjoy their rest, but still they kept the dignity of priesthood entire, and still thoy kept tho truth of the Christian religion entire; no perplexity how they should subsist if they were so stiff, ever brought them to go less to any prevarications, or modifications, either in matter of religion towards heretics, or in the execution of their religious function towards sacrilegious usurpers. So God preserved tho primitive church from perplexity; she was ever thankful and submissive towards her benefactors; she was ever erect and constant against usurpers. And this preservation from perplexity, we consider in tho reformed church also.
"When the fulness of time was come, and that church which lay in the bowels of the putative church, the specious church, the Roman church, that is, thoso souls which groaned and panted after a reformation, were enabled by God to effect it; when tho iniquity of Babylon was come to that height, that whereas at first they took of alms, afterwards Monachi emunt et nobiles vendunt", Monks bought, and lords sold, nay monasteries bought, and the crown sold; when they went so far, as to forge a donation of Constantino, by which they laid hold upon a great temporal state, and after that so much further, as to renounce tho donation of Constantino, by which, for a long time, the Roman church claimed all their temporal state, St. Peter's patrimony, and so, at last came to say, that all tho states of all Christian princes are held of the church, and really may be, and actually
M Ambrose. "Hieron. Ep. ad Demetr.
are forfeited to her, and may, at her pleasure, be re-assumed by her; when for the art and scienco of divinity itself, they had buried it in the darkness of the school, and wrapped up that that should save our souls, in thoso perplexed and inextricable clouds of school-divinity, and their school-divinity subject to such changes, as that a Jesuit professes, that in the compass but of thirty years, since Gregory de Valentia wrote, Vere dic i posslt, novam quodammodo theologiam prognatam esse", We may truly say, that we have a new art of divinity risen amongst us; The divinity of these times, says he, is not in our church the same that it was thirty years since; since all parts of tho Christian church were so incensed, both with their heresy, and their tyranny, as that the Greek church, which generally they would make the world believe, is absolutely as they are, is by some of their own authors** confessed to be more averse from them, and more bitter against them, than Luther or Calvin; since upon all these provocations, God was pleased to bring this church, tho reformed church, not only to light, but to splendour, he hath preserved this church from perplexities. If they say, we are perplexed with differences of opinions amougst ourselves, let this satisfy them, that we do agree all, in all fundamental things: and that in things much nearer the foundation, than those in which our differences lie, they differ amongst themselves, with more acrimony and bitterness, than we do. If they think to perplex us with the fathers, we are ready to join that issue with them; where the fathers speak unanimously, dogmatically, in matters of faith, wo are content to be tried by the fathers. If they think to perplex us with councils, we will go as far as they in the old ones, and as far as they for meeting in new councils, V if they may be fully, that is, royally, imperially called, and equally proceeded in, and the resolutions grow and gathered there upon debatements, upon the place, and not brought thither upon commandment from Rome. If there be no way but force and arms, if they will admit no trial but that, God be blessed that keeps us from the necessity, but God be blessed also that he preserves us from perlexity, or not being ablo to defend his cause, if he call us
,B Tanner, in Aquin. \1. 1. ad Lector.
** Stenartius Ep. Dedic. ante Calecaui.
to that trial. And therefore let them never call it a perplexity in us, let them never say that we know not what to do, when we acknowledge the church of Rome to be truly a church: for the pest-house is a house, and theirs is such a church; but the pesthouse is not the best air to live in, nor the Roman church the best church to die in. Thou hast preserved me from perplexities, may the primitive church say, and so may the reformed too, and so also may every particular soul say, which is a consideration, that from the beginning we proposed for every part, and are now come to it in this.
When we were upon this consideration in our former part, we showed you, that no over-tender or timorous soul, might hide itself in a retired life, from the offices of society, but though every particular ago bring a new sin with it, every complexion a new sin, every occupation a new sin, every friend a new sin, that must be loved for his sake, yet para te foro, thou art bound to come abroad, and trust upon God's hiding thee there from temptations, and so assure thyself that he will preserve thee from perplexities. Now, we consider in the school, perplexities, which are such only by misunderstanding; and perplexities, which are such in the true nature of the thing. Those of the first kind, perplexities in a misunderstanding, should fall upon no man; perplexities of the second kind, in the nature of the thing itself, can fall upon no man. Of the first kind, this is an example, a man swears to conceal all his friend's secrets, and he tells him of a treasonable purpose against the state; either way he must offend; against his oath if he reveal it, or against his allegiance, if he do not. This is no perplexity; for in a right understanding he must know, that such an oath binds not. Of the second kind there was an example in Origen, who must, by the commandment of the persecutor, either offer sacrifice to an idol, or prostituto his body to an abominable abuse with another man. Which should he do? Neither. God gives a man an issue in such cases, by death; St vitam potius finire debet quam maculare*0, He is bound to give his life, rather than to stain his life. This timorous soul then fears whore no fear is. He would hide himself, he is loath to come into the world, because he thinks he must needs sin. He
needs not. Is there a necessity laid upon him, that he must die as rich as the richest of his profession, and that he cannot do without sin? That he must leave his wife such a jointure, and nis children such portions, and all that he cannot do without sin? first, all that he may do without sin: we have seen in all professions honest men die as rich, as dishonest. If thou do not, he that hath said, There is no man that hath left wife or children for my sake, but shall have a hundred fold here, and everlasting life*1, (which is a blessed codicil to a will that was abundant before) will also say, there is no man that hath left wife and children poor for my sake, but I will enlarge my providence upon them even in this life, and my glory in the next: and this was our second part, considered in the church and in ourselves, Thou shalt preserve, &c.
There remains yet a third part, that as God hides us from temptations, that they reach us not; or preserves us from intricacies, and perplexities, so that they hurt us not; so if they do, yet he compasses w with a joyful deliverance, (as our former) or with songs of deliverance, as this translation hath it, that is, imprints in us a holy certitude, a fair assurance, that he will never forsake us; and this voice we may hear from the church first, and then from every particular soul; for, to both, (as we have told you all the way) do all the parts of this psalm appertain.
As it is an exaltation of God's indignation, when he is said to compass by way of siege, (so Jerusalem complains, He hath builded against me, he hath compassed me with gall and travail, he hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out**; so God threatens, / will camp against thee round about, and I will lay siege against thee") for this intimates such a displeasure of God, as that he does not only leave us succourless, joyless, comfortless in ourselves, but cuts off those supplies which might relieve us; he compasses us, he besieges us, he camps round about us, that no relief can enter; so when his love and mercy is expressed in this phrase, that he compasses us, it signifies both an entire mercy, that no enemy shall break in in any part, whilst he doth compass us, and a permanent and durable mercy, that as no force of the enemy, so no weariness in himself, shall make him discontinue his watches, or his guard over us, but that he will compass us still.
*1 Mark x. 29. *4 Lament, iii. -". ** Isaiah xxxix. 3.
Thy faithfulness is round about thee, says David to God**; that is our first comfort, that God compasses himself with his own faithfulness, that is, is never unmindful of his own promises, and purposes; and then, he is round about our habitations"; God compasses himself with his own faithfulness, and then, he compasses us with himself: that as Satan told God one day after another, Circuivi terram, et perambulavi eam, I have compassed the earth, and walked round", but could never say that he had broke into Job's quarter, for he found the impossibility in that, The Lord had made a hedge about him, where note that God's first care is of the man; and the soul is the man; first a hedge about him, and then, about his house, and about all that he had, on every side; so day after day we shall find arguments to establish our hearts in hope, that tho Lord hath compassed us, and nothing shall break in so, as to take us from him: but God shall say to us, as to his former people, Leva in circuitu oculos tuos, Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold", (which is one great comfort, that he enables us to see and to know our enemies, to discern a temptation to be a temptation) Omnes isti congregati sunt, All these gather themselves together, and come to thee, (which is another assistance, that when we see our enemies multiply, and that there is none that fighteth for us, but only thou O God, wo make a more present recourse to him) but, Vivo ego dicit Dominis, As I live saith the Lord, velut ornamento vestieris, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and bind them on thee as a bride doth; (which is the fulness of the mercy, that as in another place, he promises his children, panis vester sunt, your enemies shall be your breadTM, you shall feed upon your enemies; so here he makes our enemies, even our spiritual enemies, our clothes, and more than that, our jewels, our ornaments, we shall he the stronger, the warmer, the richer, by tribulations, and temptations, having overcome them, as we shall, if the Lord compass us, if he continue his watchfulness over us) and that David says here, first in the church's behalf.
God from the beginning carried a wall about his church, in that assurance, Porta! inferi, The gates of hell shall not prevail
** Psalm Lxxxix. 8. "Psalm txxviii. 28. ** Job. i. 8.
"Isaiah Xlix. 18. *0 Numb. xiv. 8.
against it**. The Gentiles, the philosophers that were without the church, found a party, traitors, conspirators within, the heretics; and all these led and maintained by potent princes that persecuted the church; the gates of hell were all opened, and issued all her forces, but turn prwvaluerunt, they never prevailed. The Arians were sometimes more than the true Christians in all the world: the Martyrians, a sect that affected the name of martyrdom, could name more martyrs than the true church could, but evanuerunt, yet they vanished: the emperors of Home persecuted the bishops of Rome to death, yet when we look upon the reckoning, the emperors died faster than bishops. Thou hast compassed me, says the primitive church, and so says the reformed too.
Princes that hated one another have joined in leagues against the religion, princes that needed their subjects, have spent their subjects by thousands, in massacres, to extinguish the religion; personal assassinates, clandestine plots by poison, by fire, by water, have been multiplied against princes that favour the religion; inquisitions, confiscations, banishments, dishonours have overflown them that profess the true religion; and yet the Lord compassing his church, she enjoys a holy certainty, arising out of these testimonies of his care, that she shall never be forsaken. And this may every good soul have too.
God comes to us without any purpose of departing from us again; for the spirit of life that God breathed into man, that departs from man in death; but when God had assumed the nature of man, the Godhead never parted from that nature; no, not in death; when Christ lay dead in the grave, the Godhead remained united to that body and that soul, which were disunited in themselves; God was so united to man, as that he was with man, when man was not man, in the state of death. So when the spirit of God hath invested, compassed thy soul, and made it his by those testimonies, that spirit establishes it in a kind of assurance that he will never leave it. Old Rome had (as every city amongst the heathen had) certain gods which they called their tutelar gods, gods that were affected to the preservation of that place; but they durst never call upon those gods, by their proper names, for fear of losing them; lest if their names should be
38 Matt. xvi. 18.
known by their enemies, their enemies should win away their gods from them, by bestowing more cost, or more devotion towards them than they themselves used. So also it is said of them, that when they had brought to Rome a foreign god, which they had taken in a conquered place, Victory, they cut the wings of their new god Victory, lest he should fly from them again. This was a misery, that they were not sure of their gods when they had them. We are; if he once come to us, he never goes from us, out of any variableness in himself, but in us only; that promise reaches to the whole church, and to every particular soul, Thy teachers shall not be removed into a corner any more, but thine eye shall see thy teachers", which in the original (as is appliable to our present purpose, noted by Rabbi Moses) is, Non erunt doctores tui alati, Thy teachers shall have no wings, they shall never fly from thee, and so the great translation reads it, non avolabunt. As their great god, Victory, could not fly from Rome, so after this victory which God hath given his church in the Reformation, none of her teachers should fly to, or towards Rome. Every way that God comes to us, he comes with a purpose to stay, and would imprint in us an assurance that he doth so, and that impression is this compassing of thy soul, with songs of deliverance, in the signification and use of which word, we shall in one word conclude all.
God hath given us this certitude, this fair assurance of his perpetual residence with us, in a word of a double signification; the word is ranan, which signifies joy, exultation, singing; but it hath another sense too. Arise, cry out in the night41. And, attend unto my cry", which are voices far from singing. This God means therein, that though he give us that comfort to sit and sing of our deliverance, yet he would not have us fall asleep with that music, but as when we contemplate his everlasting goodness, we celebrate that with a constant joy, so when we look upon our own weakness and unworthiness, we cry out, Wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this body of death? For though we have the spirit of life in us, we have a body of death upon us. How loving soever my soul be, it will not stay in a diseased body;
40 Isaiah xxx. 20. (1 Lament, ii. 14. 4< Psalm xviL 1.
how loving soever the spirit of life be, it will not stay in a diseased soul. My soul is loath to go from my body, but sickness and pain will drive it out; so will sin, the spirit of life from my soul. God compasses us with songs of deliverance, we are sure he would not leave us; but he compasses us with cries too, we are afraid, we are sure, that we may drive him from us. Pray we therefore our Lord of everlasting goodness, that he will be our hiding-place, that he will protect us from temptations incident to our several callings, that he will preservo us from troubles, preserve us from them, or preserve us in them, preserve us, that they come not, or preserve us that they overcome not; and that he will compass us, so as no enemy find overture unto us, and compass us with songs, with a joyful sense of our perseverance, but yet with cries too, with a solicitous fear, that that multiplicity and heinousness of our sins may weary even the incessant and indefatigable Spirit of comfort himself, and chase him from us.