The Fourth or My Prebend Sebmons Upon My Five Psalms.
PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S, JANUARY 28, 1626.
Psalm Lxv. 5.
By temble things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar oft, upon the sea.
God makes nothing of nothing now; God eased himself of that incomprehensible work, and ended it in the first Sabbath. But God makes great things of little still; and in that kind he works most upon the Sabbath; when by the foolishness of preaching1 he infatuates the wisdom of the world, and by the word, in the mouth of a weak man, he enfeebles the power of sin, and Satan in the world, and by but so much breath as blows out an hourglass, gathers three thousand souls at a sermon, and five thousand souls at a sermon, as upon Peter's preaching, in the second, and
1 l Cor. i. 21.
in the fourth of the Acts. And this work of his, to make much of little, and to do much by little, is most properly a miracle. For, the creation, (which was a production of all out of nothing) was not properly a miracle: a miracle is a thing done against nature; when something in the course of nature resists that work, then that work is a miracle; but in the creation, there was no reluctation, no resistance, no nature, nothing to resist. But to do great works by small means, to bring men to heaven by preaching in the church, this is a miracle . When Christ intended a miraculous feeding of a great multitude, he asked, Qtiot panes habetis*? first he would know, how many loaves they had; and when he found they had some, though they were but five, he multiplied them, to a sufficiency for five thousand persons. This Psalm is one of my five loaves, which I bring; one of those five Psalms, which by the institution of our ancestors in this church, are made mine, appropriated especially to my daily meditation, as there are five other Psalms to every other person of our church. And, by so poor means as this, (my speaking) his blessing upon his ordinance may multiply to the advancement, and furtherance of all your salvations. He multiplies now, farther than in those loaves; not only to feed you all, (as he did all that multitude) but to feed you all three meals.
In this Psalm (and especially in this text) God satisfies you with this threefold knowledge: first, what he hath done for man, in the light and law of nature; then, how much more he had done for his chosen people, the Jews, in affording them a law; and lastly, what he had reserved for man after, in the establishment of the Christian church. The first, (in this metaphor, and miracle of feeding) works as a breakfast; for though there be not a full meal, there is something to stay the stomach, in the light of nature. The second, that which God did for the Jews in their law, and sacrifices, and types, and ceremonies, is as that dinner, which was spoken of in the Gospel, which was plentifully prepared, but prepared for some certain guests, that were bidden, and no more; better means than were in nature, they had in the law, but yet only appropriated to thom that were bidden, to that nation, and no more. But in the third meal, God's plentiful
8 Mark vi. 38.
refection in the Christian church, and means of salvation there; first, Christ comes in the visitation of his Spirit, (Behold I come, and knock, and will sup with him3) he sups with us, in the private visitation of his Spirit; and then, (as it is added there) he invites us to sup with him, he calls us home to his house, and there makes us partakers of his blessed sacraments; and by those means we are brought at last to that blessedness which he proclaims, Blessed are all they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb4, in the kingdom of heaven. For all these three meals, we say grace in this text, By terrible things, in righteousness, wilt thou answer us, 0 God of our salvation; for all these ways of coming to the knowledge and worship of God, we bless God in this text, Thou art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off, upon the sea.
The consideration of the means of salvation afforded by God to the Jews in their law, inanimates the whole Psalm, and is transfused through every part thereof; and so it falls upon this verse too, as it doth upon all the rest; and then, for that, that God had done before in nature, and for all, is in the later part of this verse, ( Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off, upon the sea) and lastly, that that he hath reserved for the Christian church, God hath centred, and embowelled in the womb and bosom of the text, in that compilation, (0 God of our salvation) for there the word salvation, is rooted in Jashang, which Jashang is the very name of Jesus, the foundation, and the whole building of the Christian church. So then our three parts will be these; what God hath done in nature, what in the law, what in the Gospel. And when in our order we shall come to that last part, which is that, that we drive all too, (the advantage which we have in the Gospel, above nature, and the law) we shall then propose, and stop upon the Holy Ghost's manner of expressing it in this place, By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, 0 God of our salvation: but first, look we a little into the other two, nature, and law.
First then, the last words settle us upon our first consideration, what God hath done for man in nature, He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off, upon the sea,
that is, of all the world, all places, all persons in the world; all, at all times, every where, have declarations enough of his power, demonstrations enough of his goodness, to confide in him, to rely upon him. The Holy Ghost seems to have delighted in the metaphor of building. I know no figurative speech so often iterated in the Scriptures, as the name of a house; heaven and earth are called by that namo, and we, who being upon earth, have our conversation in heaven *, are called so too (Christ hath a house, which house we are3) and as God builds his house, (The Lord builds up Jerusalem, saith David7) so ho furnishes it, he plants vineyards, gardens, and orchards about it, he lays out a way to it, (Christ is the way*) he opens a gate into it, (Christ is the gate*) and when he hath done all this, (built his house, furnished it, planted about it, made it accessible, and opened the gate) then he keeps house, as well as builds a house, he feeds us, and feasts us in his house, as well as he lodges us, and places us in it. And as Christ professes what his own diet was, what ho fed upon, (My meat is to do the will of my Father") so our meat is to know the will of the Father; every man, even in nature, hath that appetite, that desire, to know God. And therefore if God have made any man, and not given him means to know him, he is but a good builder, ho is no good housekeeper, he gives him lodging, but he gives him no meat; but the eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season". All, (not only we) wait upon God; and he gives them their meat, though not our meat, (the word and the sacraments) yet their meat, such as they are able to digest and endue. Even in nature, He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off, upon the sea. That is his daily bread, which even the natural man begs at God's hand, and God affords it him.
The most precious and costly dishes are always reserved for the last services, but yet there is wholesome meat before too. The clear light is in the Gospel, but there is light in nature too. At the last supper, (the supper of the Lamb in heaven) there is no bill of fare, there are no particular dishes named there. It is impossible to tell us what wo shall feed upon, what we shall bo
5 Phi. iii. 20. * Heb. iii. fi. 1 Psalm cxLvii. 2. • John xiv. 6. 3 Matt. vii. 13. John x. 7. 10 John iv, 34. "Psalm cxlv. IS.
feasted with, at the marriage supper of the Lamb; our way of knowing God there cannot be expressed. At that supper of the Lamb, which is here, here in our way homewards, that is, in the sacramental supper of the Lamb, it is very hard to tell, what we feed upon; how that meat is dressed, how the body and blood of Christ is received by us, at that supper, in that sacrament, is hard to be expressed, hard to be conceived, for the way and manner thereof. So also in the former meal, that which we have called the dinner, which is the knowledge which the Jews had in the law, it was not easy to distinguished the taste, and the nature of every dish, and to find the signification in every type, and in every ceremony. There are some difficulties (if curious men take the matter in hand, and be too inquisitive) even in the Gospel; more in the law; most of all in nature. But yet, even in this first refection, this first meal, that God sets before man, (which is our knowledge of God in nature) because we are then in God's house, (all this world, and the next make God but one house) though God do not give Marrow and fatness, (as David speaks") though he do not feed them with the fat of the wheat, nor satisfy them with honey out of the rock", (for the Gospel is the honey, and Christ is the rock) yet, even in nature, he gives sufficient means to know him, though they come to neither of the other meals, neither to the Jews' dinner, the benefit of the law, nor to the Christian's supper, either when they feed upon the Lamb in the sacrament, or when they feed with the Lamb in the possession and fruition of heaven.
Though therefore the Septuagint, in their translation of the Psalms, have, in the title of this psalm, added this, a psalm of Jeremy and Ezekiel, when they were departing out of the captivity of Babylon, intimating therein, that it is a psalm made in contemplation of that blessed place which we are to go to, (as, literally, it was of that happy state in their restitution from Babylon to Jerusalem) and though the ancient church, by appropriating this psalm to the office of the dead, to the service at burials, intimate also, that this psalm is intended of that fulness of knowledge, and joy, and glory, which they have that are departed in the Lord; yet the Holy Ghost stops, as upon the way, before
11 Psalm Lxiii. 5. 13 Psalm ixxxi. ] 6.
we come thither, and, sineo we must lie in an inn, that is, lodge in this world, he enables the world to entertain us, as well as to lodge us, and hath provided, that the world, the very world itself, (before we consider the law in the world, or the church in the world, or glory in the next world) this very world, that is, nature, and no more, should give such an universal light of the knowledge of God, as that he should bo the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea.
And therefore as men that come to great places, and preferments, when they have entered by a fair and wide gate of honour, but yet are laid down upon hard beds of trouble and anxiety in those places, (for when the body seems in the sight of men to go on in an easy amble, the mind is every day (if not all day) in a shrewd and diseaseful trot) as those men will sometimes say, It was better with me, when I was in a lower place, and fortune, and will remember, being bishops, the pleasures they had when they were school-boys, and yet for all this intermit not their thankfulness to God, who hath raised them to that height, and those means of glorifying him: so, howsoever we abound with joy and thankfulness, for these gracious and glorious illustrations of the law, and the gospel, and beams of future glory, which we have in the Christian church, let us reflect often upon our beginning, upon the consideration of God's first benefits, which he hath given to us all in nature, that light, by which he enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world14, that he hath given us a reasonable soul capable of grace, here, (that he hath denied no man, and no other creature hath that) that he hath given us an immortal soul capable of glory hereafter, (and that, that immortality he hath denied no man, and no other creature hath that.) Consider we always the grace of God to be the sun itself, but the nature of man, and his natural faculties, to be the sphere, in which that sun, that grace moves. Consider we the grace of God to be the soul itself, but the natural faculties of man, to be as a body, which ministers organs for that soul, that grace to work by. That so, as how much soever I fear the hand of a mighty man, that strikes, yet I have a more immediate fear of the sword he strikes with; so, though I impute justly my sins, and my fears of judg
14 John i. 9.
ments for them, to God's withdrawing, or to my neglecting his grace, yet I look also upon that which is next me, nature, and natural light, and natural faculties, and that I consider how I use to use them; whether I bo as watchful upon my tongue, that that minister no temptation to others, and upon mine eye, that that receive no temptation from others, as by the light of nature I might, and as some moral men, without addition of particular grace, have done. That so, first for myself, I be not apt to lay anything upon God, and to say that he starved me, though he should not bid me to the Jew's dinner, in giving me the light of the law, nor bid me to the Christian's supper, in giving me the light of the gospel, because he hath given me a competent refection even in nature. And then, that for others, I may first say with the apostle, That they are without excuse, who do not see the invisible God, in the visible creature", and may say also with him, 0 altitude"! The ways of the Lord are past my finding out; and therefore to those, who do open their eyes to that light of nature, in the best exaltation thereof, God does not hide himself, though he have not manifested to me, by what way he manifests himself to them. For God disappoints none, and he is the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them who are afar off upon the sea.
Commit thy way unto the Lord, says David17; and he says more than our translation seems to express; the margin hath expressed it; for, according to the original word, galal, it is in the margin, not commit, but roll thy way upon the Lord; which may very well imply, and intend this precept, carry thy rolling-trench up to God, and gather upon him; as Abraham, when he beat the price with God for Sodom ", from fifty, to ten, rolled his petition upon God, so roll thy ways upon him, come up to him in a thankful acknowledgment what he had done for thee, in the gospel, in the law, and in nature; and then, as Tertullian says of public prayers, Obsidemics Deum, in the prayers of the congregation we besiege God, so this way we intrench ourselves before God, so as that nothing can beat us out of our trenches; for, if all the canons of the church beat upon me, so that I be by excommunication
15 Rom. i. 20.
17 Psalm xxxvii. 5.
"Rom. xi. 33. 18 Gen. xviii. 23.
removed from the assistances of the church, (though I be inexcusable, if I labour not my reconciliation, and my absolution) yet, before that be effected, I am still in my first trench, still I am a man, still I have a soul capable of grace, still I have the light of nature, and some presence of God in that; though I be attenuated, I am not annihilated, though by my former abuses of God's graces, and my contumacy, I be cast back to the ends of tho earth, and afar off upon the sea, yet even there, God is the confidence of all them; as long as I consider that I have such a soul, capable of grace and glory, I cannot despair.
Thus nature makes pearls, thus grace makes saints. A drop of dew hardens, and then another drop falls, and spreads itself, and clothes that former drop, and then another, and another, and become so many shells and films that invest that first seminal drop, and so (they say) there is a pearl in nature. A good soul takes first God's first drop into his consideration, what he hath shed upon him in nature, and then his second coat, what in the law, and successively his other manifold graces, as so many shells, and films, in the Christian church, and so we are sure, there is a saint.
Roll thy ways upon God; and (as it follows in the same verse) Spera in eo, et ipse faciet; we translate it, Trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass; begin at Alpha, and he shall bring it to Omega: consider thyself but in the state of hope, (for the state of nature is but a state of hope, a state of capableness; in nature we have the capacity of grace, but not grace in possession, in nature) Et ipse faciet, says that text, God shall do, God shall work; there is no more in the original but so, ipse faciet; not God shall do it, or do this, or do that, but do all; do but consider that God hath done something for thee, and he shall do all, for, He is the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar of upon the sea. Here is a new mathematics; without change of elevation, or parallax, I that live in this climate, and stand under this meridian, look up and fix myself upon God, and they that are under my feet, look up to that place, which is above them, and as divers, as contrary as our places are, we all fix at once upon one God, and meet in one centre; but we do not so upon one sun, nor upon one constellation, or configuration in the heavens; when we see it, those Antipodes do not; but they and we see God at once. How various forms of religion soever pass us through divers ways, yet by the very light and power of nature, we meet in one God; and for so much, as may make God accessible to us, and make us inexcusable towards him, there is light enough in this dawning of the day, refection enough in this first meal, the knowledge of God, which we have in nature; that alone discharges God, and condemns us; for, by that, He is, that is, he offers himself to be, the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them who are afar upon the sea; that is, of all mankind.
But then, Luna radiis non maturescit botrus, Fruits may be seen by the moonshine, but the moonshine will not ripen them. -Therefore a sun rises unto us, in the law, and in the prophets, and gives us another manner of light, than we had in nature. The way of the wicked is as darkness, says Solomon10; Wherein? It follows, They know not at what they stumble. A man that calls himself to no kind of account, that takes no candle into his hand, never knows at what he stumbles, not what occasions his sin. But by the light of nature, if he will look upon his own infirmities, his own deformities, his own inclinations, he may know at what he stumbles, what that is that leads him into temptatiou. For, though St. Paul say, That by the law is the knowledge of sin*0, and, Sin is not imputed when there is no law*'; and again, / had not known sin but by the law"; in some of these places, the law is not intended only of the law of the Jews, but of the law of nature in our hearts, (for, by that law, every man knows that he sins) and then, sin is not only intended of sin produced into act, but sin in the heart; as the apostle instances there, I had not known lust, accept the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Of some sins, there is no clear evidence given by the light of nature: that the law supplied; and more than that. The law did not only show, what was sin, but gave some light of remedy against sin, and restitution after sin, by those sacrifices, which, though they were ineffectual in themselves, yet involved, and represented Christ, who was their salvation. So then, God was to the Jews, in general, as ho was to his principal servant amongst them,
"Prov. iv. 19. "Rom. v. 13.
Rom. iii. 20.
TM Rom. vii. 7.
Moses; be saw the land of promise, but he entered not into it%s; the Jews saw Christ, but embraced him not. Abraham saw his day, and rejoiced; they saw it, that is, they might have seen it, but winked at it. Luther says well, Judwi habuere jus mendicandi, The Jews had a license to beg, they had a breve, and might gather, they had a covenant, and might plead with God; but they did not; and therefore, though they were inexcusable for their neglect of the light of nature, and more inexcusable for resisting the light of the law, that they and we might be absolutely inexcusable, if we continued in darkness after that, God set up another light, the light of the Gospel, which is our third and last part, wrapped up in those first words of our text, By terrible things, in righteousness, wilt thou answer us, 0 God of our salvation.
This word, Salvation, Jashang, is the root of the name of Jesus. In the beginning of the primitive church, when the followers of Christ left or discontinued their being called the disciples, and the faithful, and the brethren, and the professors, as they had been called before, and would bring the name of their founder, Christ Jesus, into more evidence and manifestation, yet they were not called by the name of Jesus, but from Christ; at Antioch first they were called Christians34. For it is well distinguished", that the name of Jesus, as it signifies, a saviour, first contemplates God, and the Divine nature, (which only could save us) and then hath relation to man, and the human nature, without assuming of which, the Son of God could not have saved us that way, that God had proposed, the satisfaction of his justice; and then, the name of Christ, (as it signifies anointed, and appointed to a certain purpose, as to die for us) first contemplates man, and the human nature, which only could die, and then hath relation to God, and the divine nature. So that Jesus is God, and man in him; and Christ is man, and God in him. So the name Jesus seems to taste of more mystery, and more incomprehensibleness; and the name of Christ, of more humility, and appliableness.
And with this lower name, to be called Christians from Christ,
was the church of God contented; whereas a later race of men in the Roman church, will needs take their denomination from Jesus himself; but I know not whether they mean our Jesus or not. Josephus remembers two (at least) of that name, Jesus, that were infamous malefactors, and men of blood; and they may deduce themselves from such a Jesus. And^ a Jesuit" teaches us, that it is the common opinion, that Barrabas the murderer, was by his proper name called Jesus; that his name was Jesus Barrabas; and that therefore Pilate made that difference upon our Saviour, Jesus Nazarenus, This is Jesus of Nazareth, and not Jesus Barrabas; and from that Jesus, Jesus Barrabas, they may deduce themselves. And we know also, that that mischievous sorcerer, was called by that name, Bar-jesu", The Son of Jesus. From which Jesus amongst these, they will make their extraction, let them choose. As amongst the Jesuits, the bloodiest of them all, (even to the drawing of the sacred blood of kings) is, by his name, Mariana; so all the rest of them, both in that respect, of sucking blood, and occasioning massacres, and other respects too, are rather Marianits than Jesuits, idolaters of the blessed Virgin Mary, than worshippers of Jesus.
We consist in the humility of the ancients; we are Christians, Jesus is merely a saviour, a name of mystery, Christ is anointed, a name of communication, of accommodation, of imitation; and so this name, the name of Christ, is Oleum effusum", (as the spouse speaks) An ointment, a perfume poured out upon us, and we are Christians. In the name of Jesus, St. Paul abounded, but in the name of Christ more; for, (as a Jesuit gives us the account") he repeats the name of Jesus almost three hundred times, but the name of Christ more than four hundred, in his epistles. In this church then, which is gathered in the name of Christ", (though in the power and merit of Jesus) this light which we speak of, this knowledge of God, and means of salvation, is in the highest exaltation. In the state of nature, we consider this light, as the sun, to be risen at the Molucca, in the farthest East; in the state of the law, we consider it, as the sun come to Ormus, the first quadrant; but in the Gospel, to be come
to the Canaries, the fortunate islands, the first meridian. Now, whatsoever is beyond this, is westward, towards a declination. If we will go farther than to be Christians, and those doctrines, which the whole Christian church hath ever believed, if we will be of Cephas, and of Apollos31, if we will call ourselves, or endanger, and give occasion to others to call us from the names of men, papists, or Lutherans, or Calvinists, we depart from the true glory and serenity, from the lustre and splendour of this sun; this is Tabernaculum solis, here in the Christian church, God hath set a tabernacle for the sun"; and, as in nature, man hath light enough to discern the principles of reason; so in the Christian church, (considered without subdivisions of names, and sects) a Christian hath light enough of all things necessary to salvation.
So then, still roll thy ways upon God, gather upon him nearer and nearer; for all these are emanations of lights from him, that he might be found, and seen, and known by thee. The looking upon God, by the first light of nature, is to catechise and examine thyself, whether thou do govern and employ thy natural faculties to his glory; whether thou do shut thine eyes at a temptation, stop thine ears at a blasphemy upon God, or a defamation upon thy neighbour; and withhold thy hand from blood and bribes, and thy feet from fellowship in sin. The looking upon God, by the second light, the light of the law, is to discern by that, that God hath always had a peculiar people of his own, and gathered them, and contained them in his worship, by certain visible, sensible ordinances and institutions, sacraments, and sacrifices, and ritual ceremonies, and to argue and conclude out of God's former proceedings with them, his greatness and his goodness towards the present world. And then, to see God by that last and best light, the light of the Christian church, is, to be content with so much of God, as God hath revealed of himself to his church; and (as it is expressed here) to hear him answer thee, By terrible things in righteousness; for that he does, as he is the God of our salvation, that is, as he works in the Christian church; which is our last consideration; By terrible, &c.
In this consideration, (God's proceeding with us in the Chris
1 Cor. i. xii. "Psalm xix. 4.
VOL. III. P
tian church) this observation meets us first, That God's conversation with us there, is called an answering; (he shall answer us) now if we look that God should answer us, we must say something to God; and our way of speaking to God, is by petition, by prayer. If we present no petition, if wo pray not, we can look for no answer, for we ask none. Esaias is very bold, (saith St. Paul") when he says, That God was found of them that sought him not, and made manifest to them that asked not after him; yet though it were boldly said, it was truly said; so early, and so powerful is God's preventing grace towards us. So it is a very ordinary phrase amongst the prophets, God answered, and said thus, and thus, when the prophet had asked nothing of God. But here we are upon God's proceeding with man in the Christian church; and so, God answers not, but to our petitions, to our prayers. In a sermon, God speaks to the congregation, but he answers only that soul, that hath been with him at prayers before. A man may pray in the street, in the fields, in a fair; but it is a more acceptable and more effectual prayer, when we shut our doors, and observe our stationary hours for private prayer in our chamber; and in our chamber, when we pray upon our knees, than in our beds. But the greatest power of all, is in the public prayer of the congregation.
It is a good remembrance that Damascene gives, Non quia gentes quwdam faciunt, a nobis linquenda; we must not forbear things only therefore, because the Gentiles, or the Jews used them. The Gentiles, particularly the Romans, (before they were Christians) had a set service, a prescribed form of common prayer in their temples; and they had a particular officer in that state, who was conditor precum, that made their collects, and prayers upon emergent occasions; and omni lustro, every five years, there was a review, and an alteration in their prayers, and the state of things was presumed to have received so much change in that time, as that it was fit to change some of their prayers and collects. It must not therefore seem strange, that at the first, there were certain collects appointed in our church; nor that others, upon just occasion, be added.
God's blessing here, in the Christian church, (for to that we
83 Rom. x. 20.
limit this consideration) is, that here he will answer us; therefore, here we must ask; here, our asking is our communion at prayer: and therefore they that undervalue, or neglect the prayers of the church, have not that title to the benefit of the sermon; for though God do speak in the sermon, yet ho answers, that is, applies himself by his spirit, only to them, who have prayed to him before. If they havo joined in prayer, they have their interest, and shall feel their consolation in all the promises of the gospel, shed upon the congregation, in the sermon. Have you asked by prayer, Is there no balm in Crilead? He answers you by me, Yes, there is balm; He was wounded by your transgressions, and with his stripes you are healed3',; his blood is your balm, his sacrament is your Gilead. Have you asked by prayer, is there no smith in IsraelTM? No means to discharge myself of my fetters, and chains, of my temporal, and spiritual encumbrances? God answers thee, yes, there is; he bids you but look about, and you shall find yourself in Peter's case; The angel of the Lord present, a light shining, and his chains falling offM: all your manacles locked upon the hands, all your chains loaded upon the legs, all your stripes numbered upon the back of Christ Jesus. You hava said in your prayers here, (Lord, from whom all good counsels do proceed) and God answers you from hence, The angel of the great council shall dwell with you, and direct you. You have said in your prayers, Lighten our darkness, and God answers you by me, (as he did his former people by Isaiah) The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory31. Petition God at prayers, and God shall answer all your petitions at the sermon. There we begin, (if we will make profit of a sermon) at prayers; and thither we return again, (if we have made profit by a sermon) in due time, to prayers. For, that is St. Augustine's holy circle38, in which he walks from prayers to the sermon, and from the sermon, next day to prayers again. Invocat te fides mea, says he to God; here I stand or kneel in thy presence, and in the power of faith, to pray to thee. But where had I this faith, that makes my prayer acceptable? Dedisti mihi per ministeriumpraxlicatoris; I had it at the sermon, I had it, saith he, by the ministery of the
"Isaiah Liu. 5. 35 1 Sam. xiii. 19. 3• Acts 12. 7.
*7 Isaiah Lx. 1!). "Confes. L L c. 1.
preacher; but I had it therefore, because thy spirit prepared me by prayer before; and I have it therefore, that is. to that end, that I might return faithfully to prayers again. As he is the God of our salvation, (that is, as he works in the Christian church) he answers us: if we ask by prayer, he applies the sermons; and, he answers by terrible things, in righteousness.
These two words, (terribilia per justitiam) by terrible things in righteousness, are ordinarily by our expositors taken to intimate a confidence, that God imprints by the ordinance of his church, that by this right use of prayer and preaching, they shall always be delivered from their enemies, or from what may be most terrible unto them. In which exposition, righteousness signifies faithfulness, and terrible things signify miraculous deliverances from, and terrible judgments upon his and our enemies. Therefore is God called Deus fidelis, the faithful God"; for that faithfulness implies a covenant, made before, (and there entered his mercy, that he would make that covenant) and it implies also the assurance of the performance thereof, for there enters his faithfulness. So he is called, Fidelis Creator (we commit our souls to God, as to a faithful Creator43) He had an eternal gracious purpose upon us, to create us, and he hath faithfully accomplished it. So, Fidelis quia vocavit, He is faithful in having called us"; that he had decreed, and that he hath done. So Christ is called, Fidelis pontifex, a merciful and a faithful high priest"; merciful in offering himself for us, faithful in applying himself to us. So God's whole word is called so often, so very often Testimonium fidele, a faithful witness43, an evidence that cannot deceive, nor mislead us. Therefore we may be sure, that whatsoever God hath promised to his church, (and whatsoever God hath done upon the enemies of his church heretofore, those very performances to them, are promises to us, of the like succours in the like distresses) he will perform, re-perform, multiply performances thereof upon us. Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth"; that is, whatsoever thou didst decree, was done even then, in the infallibility of that decree; and when that decree came to be executed, and actually done, in that very execution of
3• Dent. vii. 9. 40 1 Peter iv. 19. 41 1 Thes. v. 24.
«* Heb. ii. 17- 43 Psalm xix. 8. « Isaiah xxv. 1.
that former decree was enwrapped a new decree, that the same should be done over and over again for us, when soever we needed it. So that then, casting up our account, from the destruction of Babel, by all the plagues of Egypt, through the depopulation of Canaan, and the massacre in Sennacherib's army, to the swallowing of the invincible navy upon our seas, and the bringing to light that infernal, that subterranean treason in our land, we may argue, and assume, that the God of our salvation will answer us by terrible things, by multiplying of miracles, and ministering supplies, to the confusion of his, and our enemies, for, by terrible things in righteousness, will the God of our salvation answer us.
So then, his judgments are these terribilia, terrible, fearful things; and he is faithful in his covenant, and by terrible judgments he will answer, that is, satisfy our expectation. And that is a convenient sense of these words. But, the word, which we translate righteousness here, is Tzadok, and tzadok is not faithfulness, but holiness; and these terrible things are reverend things; and so Tremellius translates it, and well. Per res reverendas, by reverend things, things to which there belongs a reverence, thou shalt answer us. And thus, the sense of this place will be, that the God of our salvation, (that is, God working in the Christian church) calls us to holiness, to righteousness, by terrible things; not terrible, in the way and nature of revenge; but terrible, that is, stupendious, reverend, mysterious: that so we should not make religion too homely a thing, but come always to all acts, and exercises of religion, with reverence, with fear, and trembling, and make a difference, between religious, and civil actions.
In the frame and constitution of all religions, these materials, these elements have ever entered; some words of a remote signification, not vulgarly understood, some actions of a kind of halfhorror and amazement, some places of reservation and retiredness, and appropriation to some sacred persons, and inaccessible to all others. Not to speak of the services, and sacrifices of the Gentiles, and those self-manglings and lacerations of the priests of Isis, and of the priests of Baal, (faintly counterfeited in the scourgings and flagellations in the Roman church) in that very discipline which was delivered from God, by Moses, the service was full of mystery, and horror, and reservation, by terrible things, (sacrifices of blood in manifold effusions) God answered them, then. So the matter of doctrine was delivered mysteriously, and with much reservation, and in-intelligibleness, as Tertullian speaks. The joy and glory of heaven was not easily understood by their temporal abundancies of milk, and honey, and oil, and wine; and yet, in these (and scarce any other way) was heaven presented, and notified to that people by Moses. Christ, a Messias, a Saviour of the world, by shedding his blood for it, was not easily discerned in their types and sacrifices; and yet so, and scarce any other way was Christ revealed unto them. God says, / have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets". They were visions, they were similitudes, not plain and evident things, obvious to every understanding, that God led his people by. And there was an order of doctors amongst the Jews that professed that way, to teach the people by parables and dark sayings"; and these were the powerfullest teachers amongst them, for they had their very name (Mosselim) from power and dominion; they had a power, a dominion over the affections of their disciples, because teaching them by an obscure way, they created an admiration, and a reverence in their hearers, and laid a necessity upon them, of returning again to them, for the interpretation and signification of those dark parables. Many think that Moses cites these obscure doctors, these Mosselim, in that place, in the Book of Numbers*7, when he says, Wherefore they that speak in proverbs, say thus, and thus, and so he proceeds in a way and words, as hard to be understood, as any place in all his books. David professes this of himself often; J will open dark sayings upon my harp", and / will open my mouth in a parable". And this was the way of Solomon; for that very word is the title of his Book of Proverbs. And in this way of teaching, our Saviour abounded, and excelled; for when it is said, He taught them as one having authority", and when it is said, They were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power", they refer that to this manner of teaching, that he astonished them with these reserved and dark sayings, and by the
"Hos. xii. 10. "Sandoei Symbolica fol. 108. *7 Num. xxi. 27. * Psalm xiix. 4. "Psalm Lxxviii. 2. M Matt , vii. 29.
"Luke iv. 32.
subsequent interpretation thereof, gained a reverend estimation amongst them, that he only could lead them to a desire to know, (that dark way increased their desire) and then he only satisfies them with the knowledge of those things which concerned their salvation. For these parables, and comparisons of a remote signification, were called by the Jews, potentates, powers, powerful insinuations, as, amongst the Grecians, the same things were called axiomata, dignities; and of Christ it is said, Without a parable spake he not".
So that God in the Old, and Christ in the New Testament, hath conditioned his doctrine, ahd his religion, (that is, his outward worship) that evermore there should be preserved a majesty, arid a reverential fear, and an awful discrimination of divine things from civil, and evermore something reserved to bo inquired after, and laid up in the mouth of the priest, that the people might acknowledge an obligation from him, in the exposition and application thereof. Nay, this way of answering us by terrible things, (that is, by things that imprint a holy horror, and a religious reverence) is much more in the Christian church, than it can have been in any other religion; because, if we consider the Jews, (which is the only religion, that can enter into any comparison with the Christian, in this kind) yet, we look more directly and more immediately upon God in Christ, than they could, who saw him but by way of prophecy, a future thing that should be done after; we look upon God, in history, in matter of fact, upon things done, and set before our eyes; and so that majesty, and that holy amazement, is more to us than ever it was to any other religion, because we have a nearer approximation, and vicinity to God in Christ, than any others had, in any representations of their gods; and it is a more dazzling thing to look upon the sun, in a direct, than in an oblique or side line. And therefore the love of God, which is so often proposed unto us, is as often seasoned with the fear of God; nay, all our religious affections are reduced to that one, to a reverential fear; if he be a master, he calls for fear", and, if he be a father, he calls for honour; and honour implies a reverential fear. And that is the art that David professes to teach, Artem timendi, Come ye
children, and hearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord". That you think not divinity an occupation, nor churchservice a recreation; but still remember, that the God of our salvation (God working in the Christian church) will answer you; but yet, by terrible things; that is, by not being over-fellowly with God, nor over-homely with places, and acts of religion; which it may be an advancement to your devotion and edification to consider, in some particulars in the Christian church.
And first, consider we it, in our manners, and conversation. Christ says, Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends". But, howsoever Christ called him friend, that was come to the feast without the wedding garment, he cast him out", because he made no difference of that place from another. First then, remember by what terrible things God answers thee in the Christian church, when he comes to that round and peremptory issue, Qui non crediderit, damnabitur*1, he that believes not every article of the Christian faith, and with so steadfast a belief, as that he would die for it, damnabitur, (no modification, no mollification, no going less) he shall be damned. Consider to the nature of excommunication, That it tears a man from the body of Christ Jesus; that that man withers that is torn off, and Christ himself is wounded in it. Consider the insupportable penances that were laid upon sinners, by those penitential canons, that went through the church in those primitive times; when for many sins which we pass through now, without so much as taking knowledge that they are sins, men were not admitted to the communion all their lives, no, nor easily upon their death-beds. Consider how dangerously an abuse of that great doctrine of predestination may bring thee to think, that God is bound to thee, and thou not bound to him, that thou mayest renounce him, and he must embrace thee, and so make thee too familiar with God, and too homely with religion, upon presumption of a decree. Consider that when thou preparest any unclean action, in any sinful nakedness, God is not only present with thee, in that room then, but then tells thee, that at the day of judgment thou must stand in his presence, and in the presence of all the world, not only naked,
bat in that foul, and sinful, and unclean action of nakedness, which thou committest then; consider all this and confess, that for matter of manners, and conversation, The God of thy salvation answers thee by terrible things. And so it is also, if we consider prayer in the church.
God"1* house is the house of prayer; it is his court of requests; there he receives petitions, there he gives order upon them. And you come to God in his house, as though you came to keep him company, to sit down, and talk with him half an hour; or you come as ambassadors, covered in his presence, as though ye came from as great a prince as he. You meet below, and there make your bargains, for biting, for devouring usury, and then you come up hither to prayers, and so make God your broker. You rob, and spoil, and eat his people as bread, by extortion, and bribery, and deceitful weights and measures, and deluding oaths in buying and selling, and then come hither, and so make God your receiver, and his house a den of thieves. His house is sanctum sanctorum, the holiest of holies, and you make it only sanctuarium; it should be a place sanctified by your devotions, and you make it only a sanctuary to privilege malefactors, a place that may redeem you from the ill opinion of men, who must in charity be bound to think well of you, because they see you here. Offer this to one of your princes, (as God argues in the prophet) and see, if he will suffer his house to be profaned by such uncivil abuses; and terribilis Rex, the Lord most high is terrible, and a great king over all the earth1*; and terribilis super omnes Deos, More terrible than all other gods". Let thy master be thy god, or thy mistress thy god, thy belly be thy god, or thy back be thy god, thy fields be thy god, or thy chests be thy god, terribilis super omnes Deos, The Lord is terrible above all gods, A great God, and a great King above all gods'". You come, and call upon him by his name here, but magnum et terribile, Glorious and fearful is the name of the Lord thy God". And, as if the Son of God were but the son of some lord, that had been your school-fellow in your youth, and so you continued a boldness to him ever after, so, because you have been brought up with Christ from your cradle, and cate
chised \tt hifl nsjftle, his name becomes less revered unto you, and Sanctum et terribile", Holy and reverend, holy and terrible should his name be.
Consider the resolution that God hath taken upon the hypocrite, and his prayer; What is the hope of the hypocrite, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cryn? They hate not cried unto me with their hearts, when they have howled upon their beds34. Consider, that error in the matter of our prayer frustrates the prayer and makes it ineffectual. Zebedee's sons would have been placed at the right hand, and at the left hand of Christ, and were not heard". Error in the manner may frustrate our prayer, and make it ineffectual too. Ye ask, and are not heard, because ye ask amiss". It is amiss, if it be not referred to his will, (Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean".) It is amiss, if it be not asked in faith, (Let not him that wavereth, think he shall receive anything of the Lord33.) It is amiss, if prayer be discontinued, intermitted, done by fits, (Pray incessantly") and it is so too, if it be not vehement; for Christ was in an agony in his prayer, and his sweat was as great drops of blood10. Of prayers without these conditions, God says, When yon spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes, and when you make many prayers, I will not hear you11. Their prayer shall not only be ineffectual, but even their prayer shall be an abomination1*; and not only an abomination to God, but destruction upon themselves; for, Their prayer shall be turned to sin1i. And, when they shall not be heard for themselves, nobody else shall be heard for them: Though these three men, Noah, Job, and Daniel, stood for them, they should not deliver them14; though the whole congregation consisted of saints, they shall not be heard for him, nay, they shall be forbidden to pray for him, forbidden to mention, or mean him in their prayers, as Jeremy was. When God leaves you no way of reconciliation but prayer, and then lays these heavy and terrible conditions upon prayer, confess that though he be the God of your salvation, and do answer you, yet By terrible things doth the God of your salvation answer you. And consider this
"Psalm cxi. 4. "Job xxvii. 8, 9. * Hos. vii. 14.
"Matt. xx. 21. ** Jam. iv. 3. ** Luke v. 12.
48 Jam. i. 6, 7. ,0 1 Thess. y. 17. "Luke xxii. 44.
"Isaiah i. IS. "Prov. xxviii. 9. "Psalm cix. 7. u Ezek. xiv. 14.
again, as in manners, and in prayer, so in his other ordinance of preaching.
Think with yourselves what God looks for from you, and what you give him in that exercise. Because God calls Preaching foolishness11, you take God at his word, and you think preaching a thing under you. Hence is it that you take so much liberty in censuring and comparing preacher and preacher, nay sermon and sermon from the same preacher; as though we preached for wages, and as though coin were to be valued from the inscription merely, and the image, and the person, and not for the metal. You measure all by persons; and yet, Non erubescitis faciem sacerdotis, You respect not the person of the priest1", you give not so much reverence to God's ordinance, as he does. In no church of Christendom but ours, doth the preacher preach uncovered. And for all this good, and humble, and reverend example, (fit to be continued by us) cannot we keep you uncovered till the text be read. All the sermon is not God's word, but all the sermon is God's ordinance, and the text is certainly his word. There is no salvation but by faith, nor faith but by hearing, nor hearing but by preaching; and they that think mcanliest of the keys of the church, and speak faintliest of the absolution of the church, will yet allow, that those keys lock, and unlock in preaching; that absolution is conferred, or withheld in preaching, that the proposing of the promises of the Gospel in preaching, is that binding and loosing on earth, which binds and looses in heaven. And then, though Christ had bid us, Preach the Gospel to evert/ creature11, yet, in his own great sermon in the mount, he had forbidden us, to give holy things to dogs, or to cast pearls before swine, lest they trample them, and turn and rend us1*. So that if all those manifold and fearful judgments, which swell in every chapter, and blow in every verse, and thunder in every line of every book Of the Bible, fall upon all them that come hither, as well if they turn and rend, that is, calumniate us, the person of the preacher, as if they trample upon the pearls, that is, undervalue the doctrine, and the ordinance itself; if his terrible judgments fall upon every uncharitable misinterpretation of that which
is said here, and upon every irreverence in this place, and in this action; confess, that though he be the God of your salvation, and do answer you, yet, By terrible things doth the God of your salvation answer you. And confess it also, as in manners, and in prayers, and in preaching, so in the holy and blessed sacrament.
This sacrament of the body and blood of our Saviour, Luther calls safely, venerabile et adorabile; for certainly, whatsoever that is which we see, that which we receive is to be adored; for we receive Christ. He is Res Sacramenti, The form, the essence, the substance, the soul of the sacrament; and Sacramentum sine re sacramenti, mors est", To take the body, and not the soul, the bread, and not Christ, is death. But he that feels Christ, in the receiving of the sacrament, and will not bend his knee, would scarce bend his knee, if he saw him. The first of that royal family, which thinks itself the greatest in Christendom at this day, the house of Austrich, had the first marks of their greatness, the empire, brought into that house, for a particular reverence done to the holy and blessed sacrament80. What the bread and wine is, or what becomes of it, Damascen thinks impertinent to be inquired. He thinks he hath said enough; (and so may we do) Migrat in substantiam animw; There is the true transubstantiation, that when I have received it worthily, it becomes my very soul; that is, my soul grows up into a better state, and habitude by it, and I have the more soul for it, the more sanctified, the more deified soul by that sacrament.
Now this sacrament, which as it is ministered to us, is but a sacrament, but as it is offered to God, is a sacrifice too, is a fearful, a terrible thing. If the sacrifices of the law, the blood of goats and rams, were so, how fearful, how terrible, how reverential a thing is the blood of this immaculate Lamb, the Son of God I And though God do so abound in goodness towards us, Ut possint injuriata sacramenta prodesse reversis, (as St. Cyprian excellently expresses it) That that sacrament which we have injured and abused, received unworthily, or irreverently, at one time, may yet benefit us, and be the savour and seal of life unto us, at another, yet when you hear that terrible thunder break upon you,
M Alvares 4e Auxil, Epist, ad Phil. iii.
That the unworthy receiver eats and drinks his own damnation", that he makes Christ Jesus, who is the propitiation of all the world, his damnation; and then, that not to have come to a severe examination of the conscience before, and to a sincere detestation of the sin, and to a formed, and fixed, and deliberate, and determinate resolution against that sin, at the receiving of the sacrament, (which, alas, how few do! Is there one that does it? There is scarce one) that this makes a man an unworthy receiver of the sacrament, that thus we make a mock of the Son of God, thus we tread the blood of the covenant underfoot, and despite the spirit of grace**; and that for this, at the last day, we shall be ranked with Judas, and not only with Judas, as a negligent despiser, but with Judas, as an actual betrayer of the blood of Christ Jesus. Consider well, with what fearful conditions even this seal of your reconciliation is accompanied, and though you may not doubt, but that God, the God of your salvation does answer you, yet you must confess too, that it is by terrible things, that he does it. And, as it is so in matter of manners, and so in our prayers, and so in our preaching, and so in the sacrament, so is it also at the hour of our death, which is as far as we can pursue this meditation, (for, after death we can ask nothing at God's hands, and therefore God makes us no answer) and therefore with that conclusion of all, we shall conclude all, That by terrible things, the God of our salvation answers us, at the hour of our death.
Though death be but a sleep, yet it is a sleep that an earthquake cannot wake; and yet there is a trumpet that will, when that hand of God, that gathered dust to make these bodies, shall crumble these bodies into dust again, when that soul that evaporated itself in unnecessary disputations in this world, shall make such fearful and distempered conclusions, as to see God only by absence, (never to see him face to face) and to know God only by ignorance, (never to know him sicuti est, as he is) (for he is all mercy) and to possess immortality, and impossibility of dying only in a continual dying; when, as a cabinet whose key were lost, must be broken up, and torn in pieces, before the jewel that was laid up in it can be taken out; so thy body, (the cabinet of
1 Cor. xi. 27, 29. "Heb. x. 29.
thy soul) must be shaked and shivered by violent sickness, before that soul can go out, and when it is thus gone out, must answer for all the imperfections of that body, which body polluted it, and yet, though this soul be such a loser by that body, it is not perfectly wel}, npr fully satisfied, till it be re-united to that body again; when thou rememberest, (and, oh, never forget it) that Christ himself was heavy in his soul unto death, that Christ himself came to a Si possibile, If it be possible, let this cup pass; that he came to a quare dereliquisti, a bitter sense of God's dereliction, and forsaking of him, when thou cousiderest all this, compose thyself for death, but think it not a light matter to die. Death made the lion of Judab to roar; and do not thou think, that that which we call going away like a lamb, doth more testify a conformity with Christ, than a strong sense, and bitter agony, and cplluctation with death, doth. Christ gave us the rule, in the example; he taught us what we should do, by his doing it; and he pre-admitted a fearful apprehension of death. A lamb is a hieroglyphic of patience, but not of stupidity. And death was Christ's Consummatum est, All ended in death; yet ho had sense of death; how much more doth a sad sense of our transmigration belong to us, to whom death is no consummatum est, but an in principio; our account, and our everlasting state begins but then.
Apud tepropitiatio, ut timearis; in this knot we tie up all; With thee there is mercy, that thou mightest be feared". There is a holy fear, that does not only consist with an assurance of mercy, but induces, constitutes that assurance. Favor operantibus iniquitatem, says Solomon**; Pavor, horror, and servile fear, jealousy, and suspicion of God, diffidence, and distrust in his mercy, and a bosom-prophecy of self-destruction; destruction itself, (so we translate it) be upon the workers of iniquity; Pavor operantibus iniquitatem; and yet says that wise king, Beatus qui semper Pavidus; Blessed is that man that always fears"; who, though he always hope, and believe the good that God will show him, yet also fears the evils, that God might justly multiply upon him; blessed is he that looks upon God with assurance, but upon him
self with fear. For, though God have given us light, by which we may eee him, even in nature, (for, He is the confidence of all tie ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea) though God have given us a clearer light in the law, and experience of bis providence upon his people throughout the Old Testament, though God have abundantly, infinitely multiplied these lights and these helps to us iu the Christian church, where he is the God of salvation, yet, as he answers us by terrible things, (in that first acceptation of the words which I proposed to you) that is, gives us assurances, by miraculous testimonies in our behalf, that he will answer our patient expectation, by terrible judgments and revenges upon our enemies, In his righteousness, that is, in his faithfulness, according to his promises, and according to his performances of those promises, to his former people; so in the words, considered the other way, in his holiness, that is, in his ways of imprinting holiness in us, he answers us by terrible things, in all those particulars, which we have presented unto you; by infusing faith; but with that terrible addition, damnabitur, he that believeth not, shall be damned; he answers us, by composing our manners, and rectifying our life and conversation; but with terrible additions of censures, and excommunications, and tearings off from his own body, which is a death to us, and a wound to him; he answers us by enabling us to speak to him in prayer; but with terrible additions, for the matter, for the manner, for the measure of our prayer, which being neglected, our very prayer is turned to sin. He answers us in preaching; but with that terrible commination, that even his word may be the savour of death unto death. He answers us in the sacrament; but with that terrible perplexity and distraction, that he that seems to be a John, or a Peter, a loving, or a beloved disciple, may be a Judas, and he that seems to have received the seal of his reconciliation, may have eaten and drunk his own damnation. And he answers us at the hour of death; but with this terrible obligation, that even then I make sure my salvation with fear and trembling. That so we imagine not a God of wax, whom we can melt, and mould, when, and how we will; that we make not the church a market, that an over-homeliness and familiarity with God in the acts of religion, bring us not to an irreverence,
nor indifferency of places; but that, as the militant church is the porch of the triumphant, so our reverence here may have some proportion to that reverence which is exhibited there, where the elders cast their crowns before the throne, and continue in that holy and reverend acclamation, Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power'"'; for, (as we may add from this text) By terrible things, 0 God of our salvation, doest thou answer m in righteousness.