PREACHED AT WHITEHALL, APRIL 30, 1620.
PsALM CXLiv. 15.
[Being the First Psalm for the Day.]
Blessed are the people that be so; yea blessed are the people, whose God is
The first part of this text hath relation to temporal blessings, Blessed is the people that be so: the second part to spiritual, Yea blessed is the people, whose God is the Lord. His left hand is under my head, saith the spouse1; that sustains me from falling
1 Cant. ii. 6.
into murmuring, or diffidence of his Providence, because out of his left hand he hath given me a competency of his temporal blessings; But his right hand doth embrace me, saith the spouse there; his spiritual blessings fill me, possess me, so that no rebellious fire breaks out within me, no outward temptation breaks in upon me. So also says Solomon again, In her left hand is riches and glory, (temporal blessings) and in her right hand length of days*, all that accomplishes and fulfils the eternal joys of the saints of heaven. The person to whom Solomon attributes this right and left hand is Wisdom; and a wise man may reach out his right and left hand, to receive the blessings of both sorts. And the person whom Solomon represents by Wisdom there, is Christ himself. So that not only a worldly wiseman, but a Christian wiseman may reach out both hands, to both kinds of blessings, right and left, spiritual and temporal. And therefore, Interrogo vos, filios regni cwlorum, saith St. Augustine, Let me ask you, who are sons and heirs of the kingdom of heaven, Progeniem resurrectionis in wternum, You that are the offspring of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, and have your resurrection in his, Membra Christi, templa Spiritus Sancti, You that are the very body of Christ, you that are the very temples of the Holy Ghost, Interrogo vos, Let me ask you, for all your great reversion hereafter, for all that present possession which you have of it, in an apprehensive faith, and in a holy conversation in this life, for all that blessedness, Non est ista felicitas? Is there not a blessedness in enjoying God's temporal blessings here too? Sit licet, sed sinistra, saith that father; it is certainly a blessedness, but a lefthanded blessedness, a weaker, a more imperfect blessedness, than spiritual blessings are.
As then there is dextra, and sinistra beatitudo, a right-handed, and a left-handed blessedness in the text: so there is dextra, and sinistra inteipretatio, a right and a left exposition of the text. And as both these blessednesses, temporal and spiritual, are seals and testimonies of God's love, though not both of equal strength, and equal evidence; so both the interpretations of these words are useful for our edification, though they be not both of equal authority. That which we call sinistram interpretationem, is
• Prov. iii. 16.
that sense of these words, which arises from the first translators of the Bible, the Septuagint, and those fathers which followed them; which, though it be not an ill way, is not the best, because it is not according to the letter; and then, that which we call dextram interpretations, is that sense which arises pregnantly, and evidently, liquidly, and manifestly out of the original text itself.
The authors and followers of the first sense read not these words as we do, Beatus populus, That people is blessed, but Beatum dixerunt populum, That people was esteemed blessed; and so they refer this and all the temporal blessings mentioned in the three former verses to a popular error, to a general mistaking, to the opinions, and words of wicked and worldly men, that only they desire these temporal things, only they taste a sweetness, and apprehend a blessedness in them; whereas they who have truly their conversation in heaven, are swallowed up with the contemplation of that blessedness, without any reflection upon earth or earthly things. But the author of the second sense, which is God himself, and his direct word, presents it thus, Beatus populus, That people is truly blessed, there is a true blessedness in temporal things; but yet, this is but sinistra beatitudo, a less perfect blessedness; for the followers of both interpretations, and all translators, and all expositors meet in this, that the perfect, the accomplishing, the consummatory blessedness is only in this, That our God be the Lord.
First then, to make our best use of the first sense, that temporal things conduce not at all to blessedness, St. Cyprian's wonder is just, Deum nobis solis contentum esse, nobis non svfficere Beam; That God should think man enough for him, and man should not be satisfied with God; that God should be content with Fili da iitihi cor, My Son give me thy heart, and man should not be content with Pater da mihi Spiritum, My God, my Father, grant me thy Spirit, but must have temporal additions too. Non est castum cor, saith St. Augustine, si Beum ad mercedem colit; as he saith in another place, Non est casta uxor, quw amat quia dives, She is never the honester woman, nor the lovinger wife, that loves her husband in contemplation of her future jointure, or in fruition of her present abundancies; so he says here, Non est castum cor, That man hath not a chaste, a sincere heart towards God, that loves him by the measure and proportion of his temporal blessings. The devil had so much colour for that argument, that in prosperity there can be no trial, whether a man love God or no, as that he presses it even to God himself, in Job's case: Doth Job serve God for nought? hast not thou hedged him in, and blessed the works of his hands, and increased his substance*? How canst thou tell whether he will love thee, or fear thee, if thou shouldest take away all this from him? Thou hast had no trial yet. And this argument descended from that father to his children, from the devil there, to thoso followers of his whom the prophet Malachi reprehends for saying, It is in vain to serve God, for what profit is it, that we have kept his commandments*? When men are willing to prefer their friends, we hear them often give these testimonies of a man; he hath good parts, and you need not be ashamed to speak for him; he hath money in his purse, and you need not be sorry to speak for him; he understands the world, he knows how things pass, and he hath a discreet, a supple, and an appliable disposition, and he may make a fit instrument for all your purposes, and you need not be afraid to speak for him. But whoever casts into this scale and valuation of a man, that weight, that he hath a religious heart, that he fears God? What profit is there in that, if we consider this world only?
But what profits it a man, if he get all the world, and lose his own soul? And therefore that opinion, that there was no profit at all, no degree towards blessedness in those temporal things, prevailed so far, as that it is easy to observe in their expositions upon the Lord's Prayer, that the greatest part of the fathers do ever interpret that petition, Da nobis hodie, Give us this dag our daily bread, to be intended only of spiritual blessings, and not of temporal; so St. Hierome saith, when we ask that bread, Illum petimus, qui panis vivus est, et descendit de calo; we make our petition for him, who is the bread of life, and descended from the bosom of the Father; and so he refers it to Christ, and in him, to the whole mystery of our redemption. And Athanasius and St. Augustine too (and not they two alone) refer it to the sacra
* Job i. 9, 10. * Mai iii. 14.
mental bread; that in that petition, we desire such an application of the bread of life, as we have in the participation of the body and blood of Christ Jesus in that communion. St. Cyprian insists upon the word nostrum, our bread; for, saith he, temporal blessings cannot properly be called ours, because they are common to the saints, and to the reprobates; but in a prayer ordained by Christ for the faithful, the petition is for such things as are proper, and peculiar to the faithful, and that is for spiritual blessings only. If any man shall say, Ideo quwrenda, quia necessaria, We must pray, and we must labour for temporal things, because they are necessary for us, we cannot be without them, Ideo non quwrenda quia necessaria, says St. Chrysostom, so much of them, as is necessary for our best state, God will give us, without this laborious anxiety, and without eating the bread of sorrow in this life, Non sperandum de superfluis, non desperandum de neeessariis, says the same father; it is a suspicious thing to doubt or distrust God in necessary things, and it is an unmannerly thing to press him in superfluous things. They are not necessary before, and they are not ours after: for those things only are ours, which no body can take from us: and for temporal thing, A uferre potest inimicus homo, invito: Let the inimicus homo be the devil, and remember Job's case, Let the inimicus homo be any envious and powerful man, who hath a mind to that that thou hast, and remember Naboth's case, and this envious man can take any temporal thing from thee against thy will. But spiritual blessings cannot be taken so, Fidem nemo perdidit, nisi qui spreverit, says St. A ugustin, No man ever lost his faith, but he that thought it not worth the keeping.
But for Job's temporal estate says St. Augustine, all was lost. And lest any man should say, Uxor relicta erat, Job had not lost all, because his wife was left, Misericordem putatis diabolum, says that father, qui ei reliquit Uxorem? Do you think that Job lighted upon a merciful and good-natured devil, that the devil did this out of pity and compassion to Job, or that Job was beholden to the devil for this, that he left him his wife? Noverat per quam deceperat Adam, says he, the devil knew by what instrument he had deceived the first man, and by the same instrument he practises upon Job; Suam reliquit adjutricem, iurn mariti eonsolatricem, He left Job a helper, but a helper for his own ends, but for her husband a miserable comforter. Caro conjux, says the same father in another place, this flesh, this sensual part of ours, is our wife: and when these temporal things by any occasion are taken from us, that wife, that flesh, that sensuality is left to murmur and repine at God's corrections, and that is all the benefit we have by that wife, and all the portion we have with that wife.
Though therefore St. Hierome, who understood the original language, the best of his time, in his translation of the Psalms, do give the true, the right sense of this place, yet in his own commentaries upon the Psalms, he takes this first sense, and beats upon that doctrine, that it is but a popular error, a general mistaking, to make worldly blessings any degree of happiness: he saw so good use of that doctrine, as that he would not see the right interpretation of the words: ho saw well enough, that according to the letter of the text, temporal things were blessings, yet because they were but left-handed blessings, remembering the story in the Book of Judges, of seven hundred left-handed Benjamites*, that would sling stones at a hair's breadth, and were better mark-men than the right-handed, and considering the left-handed men of this world, those who pursue temporal blessings only, went with most earnestness, and best success to their works, to correct that general distemper, that general vehemence upon temporal things, St. Hierome, and so many of the fathers as accompany him in that interpretation, were content to embrace that sense, which is not truly the literal sense of this place, that it should be only beatum dixerint, and not beatus popuhis, a popular error, and not a truth, that any man, for any people, were blessed in temporal things; and so we have done with the first sense of these words, and the reason why so many follow it.
We are come now to the second interpretation: where there is not beatitudo falsa and vera, for both are true, but there is dextra and sinistra, a right-handed and left-handed blessedness; there is inchoativa and perfectiva, there is an introductory, and a consummatory blessedness: and in the first of these, in the lefthanded, in the less perfect blessedness, we must consider three
5 Judges xx. 16.
things. First, beatitudinem ipsam, that there is a blessedness proposed: and secondly, in quibus, in what that blessedness is placed in this text, quibus sic, blessed are they that are so, that is, so, as is mentioned in the three former verses: and thirdly, another in quibus, not in what things, but in what persons this first blessedness is placed, beatus populus, it is when all the people, the whole body, and not some ranks of men, nor some particular men in those ranks, but when all the people participate of these blessings.
Now first, for this first blessedness, as no philosophers could ever tell us amongst the Gentiles, what true blessedness was, so no grammarian amongst the Jews, amongst the Hebrews, could ever tell us, what tho right signification of this word is, in which David expresses blessedness here; whether asherei, which is the word, be a plural noun, and signify beatitudines, blessednesses in the plural, and intimate thus much, that blessedness consists not in any one thing, but in a harmony and consent of many; or whether this asherei be an adverb, and signify beate, and so be an acclamation, O how happily, how blessedly are such men provided for that are so; they cannot tell. Whatsoever it be, it is the very first word, with which David begins his Book of Psalms; beatus fir: as the last word of that book is, laudate Dominum; to shew, that all that passes between God and man, from first to last, is blessings from God to man, and praises from man to God; and that the first degree of blessedness is, to find the print of the hand of God, even in his temporal blessedness, and to praise and glorify him for them, in the right use of them.
A man that hath no land to hold by it, nor title to recover by it, is never the better, for finding, or buying, or having a fair piece of evidence, a fair instrument, fairly written, duly sealed, authentically testified; a mau that hath not the grace of God, and spiritual blessings too, is never the nearer happiness, for all his abundances of temporal blessedness. Evidences are evidences to them who have title. Temporal blessings are evidences to them, who have a testimony of God's spiritual blessings iu the temporal. Otherwise as in his hands, who hath no title, it is a suspicious thing to find evidences, and he will bo thought to have embezzled and purloined them, he will be thought to have forged and counterfeited them, and he will be called to an account for them, how he came to them, and what he meant to do with them: so to them who have temporal blessings without spiritual, they are but useless blessings, they are but counterfeit blessings, they shall not purchase a minute's peace of conscience hero, nor a minute's refreshing to the soul hereafter; and there must be a heavy account made for them, both how they were got, and how they were employed.
But when a man hath a good title to heaven, then these are good evidences: for, Godliness hath a promise of the life to come, and of the life that now is3; and if we spend anything in maintenance of that title, give, or lose anything for his glory and making sure this salvation, We shall inherit everlasting life1, says the best surety in the world; but we shall not stay so long for our bill of change*, wo shall have a hundredfold in this life. St. Augustine seems loath to take Christ at that large word, he seems to think it too great usury, to take a hundredfold for that which we have laid out for Christ: and therefore he reads that place, Accipiet septies tatum, He shall receive seven times as much, in this life. But in both the evangelists, Matthew and Mark, the overflowing bounty and retribution of God is so expressed, centuplum accipiet. God repaired Job so, as ho had been impaired; God recompensed him in specie, in the same kind as he had been damnified. And Christ testifies of himself, that his coming to us is not only, Ut vitam habeatis, sed habeatis abundantius; More abundantly; that is, as divers of the fathers interpret it, that you might have eternal life sealed to you, in the prosperity and abundancies of this lite. / am the door, says Christ, in the same chapter8: we must not think to fly over walls, by sudden and undeserved preferments, nor to sap and undermine, and supplant others; we must enter at that door, by fair and Christian means: and then, By me if any man enter, says Christ there, he shall be saved; there is a rich and blessed inheritance; but before he come to that salvation, He shall go in and out, and find pasture, says that text. Now, in heaven there is no going in and out; but in his way to heaven, in this life, he
• 1 Tim. iv. 8. 7 Matt. xix. 29.
* Folio edition, " charge." 8 John ix. 10.
shall find his interest in the next, conveyed and sealed to him in temporal blessings here.
If Plato found and acknowledged a happiness in that, quod natus homo, that he was born a man, and not a beast, (Lactantius adds in Plato's behalf, when he cites that place out of him, quod natus vir, that he was bom a man, and not a woman) if he found a farther happiness, quod Grwcus, that he was born a Grecian, and not a barbarian; quod Atheniensis, that he was born in the town which was the receptacle, and dwelling of all wisdom; and quod tempore Socratis, and that he was bora in Socrates' time, that so he might have a good example, as well as a good rule for his life: as all we owe to God an acknowledgement of blessedness, that we are born in a Christian church, in a reformed church, in a monarchy, in a monarchy composed of monarchies, and in the time of such a monarch, as is a peacemaker, and a peace-preserver both at home and abroad; so let all them who are born of nobility, or borne up to nobility upon the two fair wings of merit and of favour, all that are born to riches, and born up and born out by their riches, all whom their industry, and wisdom, and usefulness to the state, hath or may any way prefer, take heed of separating the author and the means; of separating God and the king, in the ways of favour; of separating God and their riches, in the ways of purchase; of separating God and their wisdom, in the ways of preferment; but let them always discern; and always acknowledge, the hand of God, the author, in directing and prospering the hand of his instrument in all these temporal things, and then, these temporal things are truly blessings unto them, and they are truly blessed in them.
This was our first consideration, our first branch in this part, that temporal things were seals and testimonies of blessedness; the second is, to what particular evidence this seal is annexed in this text, upon what things this blessedness is placed here; which are all involved in this one little particle, this monosyllable so, blessed are they that are so; that is, so, as a prayer is made in the three former verses, that they might be. Now as the maledictions which were threatened to David, were presented to him by the prophet in three forms, of war, of famine, of pestilence; so these blessings which are comprised-in those three verses, may well be reduced to three things contrary to those three maledictions; to the blessing of peace, contrary to David's war, that there may be no invasion; to the blessing of plenty, contrary to David's famine, that our barn s may abound with all sorts of earn; to the blessing of health, contrary to David's destroying sickness, that our sont may grow up as plants in their youth.
For the first temporal blessing of peace, we may consider the loveliness, the amiableness of that, if we look upon the horror and ghastliness of war: either in effigy, in that picture of war, which is drawn in every leaf of our own chronicles, in the blood of so many princes, and noble families, or if we look upon war itself, at that distance where it cannot hurt us, as God had formerly kindled it amongst our neighbours, and as he hath transferred it now to remoter nations, whilst we enjoy yet a Goshen in the midst of all those Egypts. In all cities, disorderly and facinorous men, covet to draw themselves into the skirts and suburbs of those cities, that so they may be the nearer the spoil, which they make upon passengers. In all kingdoms that border upon other kingdoms, and in islands which have no other border but the sea, particular men, who by dwelling in those skirts and borders, may make their profit of spoil, delight in hostility, and have an adverseness and detestation of peace: but it is not so within: they who till the earth, and breed up cattle, and employ their industry upon God's creatures, according to God's ordinance, feel the benefit and apprehend the sweetness, and pray for tho continuance of peace.
This is the blessing, in which God so very often expresses his gracious purpose upon his people, that he would give them peace; and peace with plenty; 0 that my people had hearkened unto me! says God, / would soon have humbled their enemies, (there is their peace) and I would have fed them with the fat of wheat, and with the honey out of the rock*, and there is their plenty. Persons who are preferred for service in the war, prove often suspicious to the prince. Joab's confidence in his own merit and service, made him insolent towards the king, and the king jealous of him. But no man was more suddenly nor more safely preferred than Joseph,
for his counsel to resist penury, and to preserve plenty and abundance within the land. See Basil in an homily which he made in a time of dearth and drought, in which he expresses himself with as much elegancy, as any where, (and every where I think with as much as any man) where he says, there was in the sky, Tristis severitas et ipsa puritate molesta, That the air was the worse for being so good, and the fouler for being so fair; and where he inverts the words of our Saviour, Messis magna, operariipauci, says Christ10, Here is a great harvest, but few workmen; but Operarii multi, messis parva, says Basil, Here are workmen enough, but no harvest to gather, in that homily; he notes a barrenness in that which used to be fruitful, and a fruitfulness in that which used to be barren; terra sterilis et aurum fwcundum, he prophesied of our times; when not only so many families have left the country for the city, in their persons, but have brought their lands into the city, they have brought all their evidences into scriveners' shops, and changed all their renewing of leases every seven years, into renewing of bonds every six months: they have taken a way to inflict a barrenness upon land, and to extort a fruitfulness from gold by usury. Monsters may be got by unnatural mixtures, but there is no race, no propagation of monsters: money may be raised by this kind of use; but, non hwrebit, it is the sweat of other men, and it will not stick to thine heir. Nay, commonly it brings not that outward blessing of plenty with it; for, for the most part, we see no men live more penuriously, more sordidly, than these men do.
The third of these temporal blessings is health, without which both the other are no more to any man, than the rainbow was to him who was ready to drown; Quid mihi, si peream ego? says he, What am I the better, that God hath past his word, and set to his seal in the heavens, that he will drown the world no more, if I be drowned myself? What is all the peace of the world to me, if I have the rebellions and earthquakes of shaking and burning fevers in my body? What is all the plenty of the world to me, if I have a languishing consumption in my blood, and in my marrow? The heathens had a goddess, to whom they attributed the caro of the body, deam Car nam: and we that are Christians,
acknowledge, that God's first care of man, was his hody, he made that first; and his last care is reserved for the body too, at the resurrection, which is principally for the benefit of the body. There is a care belongs to the health, and comeliness of the body. When the Romans cononized Pallorem and Febrim, Paleness and Fevers, and made them gods, they would as fain have made them devils, if they durst; they worshipped them only, because they stood in fear of them. Sickness is a sword of God's and health is his blessing. For when Hezekias had assurance enough that he should recover and live, yet he had still a sense of misery, in that he should not have a perfect state of health. What shall Isay, says he, I shall walk weakly all my years, in the bitterness of my soul11. All temporal blessings are insipid and tasteless, without health.
Now the third branch of this part, is the other in quibus, not the things, but the persons, in whom these three blessings are here placed: and it is beatus populus, when this blessedness reaches to all, dilates itself over all. When David places blessedness in one particular man, as he does in the beginning of the first Psalm, Beatus vir, Blessed is that man, there he pronounces that man blessed, If he neither walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. If he do not all, walk, and stand, and sit in the presence and fear of God, he is not blessed. So, if these temporal blessings fall not upon all, in their proportions, the people is not blessed. The city may be blessed in the increase of access; and the lawyer may be blessed in the increase of suits; and the merchant may be blessed in the increaso of means of getting, if he be come to get as well by taking, as by trading; but if all bo not blessed, the people is not blessed: yea, if these temporal blessings reach not to the prince himself, the people is not blessed. For in favorabilibusprinceps e populo, is a good rule in the law; in things beneficial, the king is one of the people. When God says by David, Let all the people bless the Lord, God does not exempt kings from that duty; and when God says by him too, God shall bless all the people, God does not exempt, not exclude kings from that benefit; and therefore where such things as conduce to the being, and the well-being, to the substance and state, to tho ceremony and majesty of the prince, bo
11 Isaiah xxxviii. 15.
not cheerfully supplied, and seasonably administered, there that blessing is not fully fallen upon them, blessed is that people that are so; for the people are not so, if the prince be not so.
Nay, the people are not blessed, if these blessings be not permanent; for, it is not only they that are alive now, that are the people; but the people is the succession. If we could imagine a blessing of health without permanency, we might call an intermitting ague, a good day in a fever, health. If we could imagine a blessing of plenty without permanency, we might call a full stomach, and a surfeit, though in a time of dearth, plenty. If we could imagine a blessing of peace without permanency, we might call a night's sleep, though in the midst of an army, peace; but it is only provision for the permanency and continuance, that makes these blessings blessings. To think of, to provide against famine, and sickness, and war, that is the blessing of plenty, and health, and peace. One of Christ's principal titles was, that he was Princeps Pacis'* and yet this Prince of Peace says, N~on zeni mittere pacem, I came not to bring you peace, not such a peace as should bring them security against all war. If .a ship take fire, though in the midst of the sea, it consumes sooner, and more irrecoverably, than a thatched house upon land: if God cast a firebrand of war, upon a state accustomed to peace, it burns the more desperately, by their former security.
But here in our text we have a religious king, David, that first prays for these blessings, (for the three former verses are a prayer) and then praises God in the acknowledgement of them; for this text is an acclamatory, a gratulatory glorifying of God for them. And when these two meet in the consideration of temporal blessings, a religious care for them, a religious confessing of them, prayer to God for the getting, praise to God for the having, Blessed is that people, that is, head and members, prince and subjects, present and future people, that are so; so blessed, so thankful for their blessings.
We come now, Ad dextram dextra?, to the right blessedness, in the right sense and interpretation of these words, to spiritual blessedness, to the blessedness of the soul. Estne Deo cura de bobus? is the apostle's question", and his answer is pregnantly
"Isaiah ix. 6. 1* 1 Cor. ix. 9.
implied, God hath care of beasts: but yet God cared more for one soul than for those two thousand hogs which he suffered to perish in the sea, when that man was dispossessed. A dram of spiritual is worth infinite talents of temporal. Here then in this spiritual blessedness (as we did in the former) we shall look first, Quid beatitudo, what it is; and then, In quibus, in what it is placed here, Ut Dew eorum sit Dominus, That their God be the Lord; and lastly, the extent of it, that all the people be made partakers of this spiritual blessedness.
This blessedness then, you see is placed last in the text; not that it cannot be had till our end, till the next life; in this case, the Nemo ante obitum fails, for it is in this life, that we must find our God to be the Lord, or else, if we know not that here, we shall meet his nescio vos, he will not know us; but it is placed last, because it is the weightiest, and the uttermost degree of blessedness, which can be had, To have the Lord for our God. Consider the making up of a natural man, and you shall see that he is a convenient type of a spiritual man too.
First, in a natural man we conceive there is a soul of vegetation and of growth; and secondly, a soul of motion and of sense; and then thirdly, a soul of reason and understanding, an immortal soul. And the two first souls of vegetation, and of sense, we conceive to arise out of the temperament, and good disposition of the substance of which that man is made, they arise out of man himself; but the last soul, the perfect and immortal soul, that is immediately infused by God. Consider the blessedness of this text, in such degrees, in such proportions. First, God blesses a man with riches, there is his soul of vegetation and growth, by that he grows in estimation, and in one kind of true ability to produce good fruits, for he hath wherewithal. And then, God gives this rich man the blessing of understanding, his riches, how to employ them according to those moral and civil duties, which appertain unto him, and there is his soul of sense; for many rich men have not this sense, many rich men understand their own riches no more than the oaks of the forest do their own acorns. But last of all, God gives him the blessing of discerning the mercy, and the purpose of God in giving him these temporal blessings, and there is his immortal soul. Now for the riches themselves, (which is his first soul) he may have them ex traduce, by devolution from his parents; and the civil wisdom, how to govern his riches, where to purchase, where to sell, where to give, where to take, (which is his second soul) this he may have by his own acquisition, and experience, and conversation; but tho immortal soul, that is, the discerning of God's image in every piece, and of the seal of God's love in every temporal blessing, this is infused from God alone, and arises neither from parents, nor the wisdom of this world, how worldly wise soever we be in the governing of our estate.
And this the prophet may very well seem to have intimated, when he saith, The generation of the righteous shall be blessed1*; here is a permanent blessedness, to the generation. Wherein is it expressed? thus; Riches and treasure shall be in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever. He doth not say, that simony, or usury, or extortion shall be in his house; for riches got so are not treasure; nor he doth not say, that riches well got, and which are truly a blessing, shall endure for ever, but his righteousness shall endure for ever. The last soul, the immortal soul endures for ever. The blessedness of having studied, and learnt, and practised the knowledge of God's purpose in temporal blessings, this blessedness shall endure for ever; when thou shalt turn from the left to the right side, upon thy death bed, from all the honours, and riches of this world, to breathe thy soul into his hands that gave it, this righteousness, this good conscience shall endure then, and then accompany thee: and when thine eyes are closed, and in the twinkling of his eye that closed thine, thy soul shall be gone an infinite way from this honour, and these riches, this righteousness, this good conscience shall endure then, and meet thee in the gates of heaven. And this is so much of that righteousness, as is expressed in this text, (because this is the root of all) That our God be the Lord.
In which, first we must propose a God, that there is one, and then appropriate this God to ourselves, that ho be our God, and lastly, be sure that we have the right God, that our God be the Lord. For, for the first, he that enterprises any thing, seeks any thing, possesses any thing without recourse to God, without
11 Psalm cxii. 2.
acknowledging God in that action, he is, for that particular, an Atheist, he is without God in that; and if he do so in most of his actions, he is for the most part an Atheist. If ho be an Atheist every where, but in his catechism, if only then he confess a God when he is asked, doest thou believe that there is a God, and never confess him, never consider him in his actions, it shall do him no good, to say at the last day, that he was no speculative Atheist, he never thought in his heart, that there was no God, if he lived a practic Atheist, proceeded in all his actions without any consideration of him. But accustom thyself to find the presence of God in all thy gettings, in all thy preferments, in all thy studies, and he will be abundantly sufficient to thee for all. Quantumlibet sis avarus, saith St. Augustine, sufficit tibi Deus, Be as covetous as thou wilt, be as ambitious as thou canst, the more the better; God is treasure, God is honour enough for thee. Avaritia terram quwrit, saith the same father, adds et caelum; wouldst thou have all this world? wouldst thou have all the next world too? Plus est, qui fecit caelum et terram, He that made heaveu and earth is more than all that, and thou mayest have all him.
And this appropriates him so near to us, as that he is thereby Deus noster. For, it is not enough to find Deum, a god; a great and incomprehensible power, that sits in luce, in light, but in luce inaccessibili, in light that we cannot comprehend. A God that enjoys his own eternity, his own peace, his own blessedness, but respects not us, reflects not upon us, communicates nothing to us. But it is a God, that is Deus noster; ours, as wo are his creatures; ours, as we are like him, made to his image; ours, as he is like us, in assuming our nature; ours, as he hath descended to us in his incarnation; and ours, as we are ascended with him in his glorification: so that we do not consider God, as our God, except we come to the consideration of God in Christ, God and man. It is not enough to find deum, a god in general, nor to find deum meum, a god so particularly my god, as that he is a god of my making: that I should seek God by any other motions, or know God by any other notions, or worship God in any other fashions, than the true church of God doth, for there he is Deus noster, as he is received in the unauime consent of the Catholic church. Sects are not bodies, they are hut rotten boughs, gangrened limbs, fragmentary chips, blown off by their own spirit of turbulency, fallen off by the weight of their own pride, or hewn off by the excommunications and censures of the church. Sects are no bodies, for thero is nihil nostrum, nothing in common amongst them, nothing that goes through them all; all is singular, all is meum and tuum, my spirit and thy spirit, my opinion and thy opinion, my God and thy God; no such apprehension, no such worship of God, as the whole church hath evermore been acquainted withal, and contented with.
It is true, that every man must appropriate God so narrowly, as to find him to be Deum suum, his God; that all the promises of the prophets, and all the performances of the Gospel, all that Christ Jesus said, and did, and suffered, belongs to him and his soul; but yet God is Deus mens, as he is Deus noster, my God, as he is our God, as I am a part of that church, with which he hath promised to be till the end of the world, and as I am an obedient son of that mother, who is the spouse of Christ Jesus: for as St. Augustine saith of that petition, Give us this day our daily bread, Unde dicimus da nostrum? How come we to ask that which is ours, Quomodo nostrum, quomodo da? if we be put to ask it, why do we call it ours? and then answers himself, Tuum confitendo, non eris ingratus, It is a thankful part to confess that thou hast some, that thou hast received some blessings; and then, Ab illo petendo, non eris vacuus, It is a wise and provident part, to ask more of him, whose store is inexhaustible; so if I feel God, as he is Dens mens, as his spirit works in me, and thankfully acknowledge that, Non sum ingratus; but if I derive this pipe from the cistern, this Deus meus, from Deut noster, my knowledge and sense of God, from that knowledge which is communicated by his church, in the preaching of his word, in the administration of his sacraments, in those other means which he hath instituted in his church, for the assistance and reparation of my soul that way, non ero vacuus, I shall have a fuller satisfaction, a more abundant refection than if I rely upon my private inspirations: for there he is Deus noster.
Now, as we are thus to acknowledge a God, and thus to appropriate that God; so we must be sure to confer this honour upon the right God, upon whom who is the Lord. Now this name of God, which is translated the Lord here, is not the name of God, which presents him with relation to his creatures: for so it is a problematical, a disputable thing, whether God could be called tho Lord, before there were any creatures. Tertullian denies absolutely that he could be called Lord till then; St. Augustine is more modest, he says, Non audeo dicere, I dare not say that ho was not; but he does not affirm that he was; howsoever tho name here, is not the name of relation, but it is the name of his essence, of his eternity, that name, which of late hath been ordinarily called Jehovah. So that we are not to trust in those Lords, whose breath is in their nostrils, as the prophet says, For, wherein are they to be esteemed? says he"; we are less to trust in them, whose breath was never in their nostrils, such imaginary saints, as are so far from hearing us in heaven, as that they are not there: and so far from being there, as that they were never here: so far from being saints, as that they were never men, but are either fabulous illusions, or at least, but symbolical and allegorical allusions. Our Lord is the Lord of life and being, who gave us not only a well-being in this life, (for that other Lords can pretend to do, and do indeed, by preferments here) nor a beginning of a temporary being in this life, (for that our parents pretend, and pretend truly to have done) nor only an enlarging of being in this life, (for that the king can do by a pardon, and the physicians by a cordial) but he hath given us an immortal being, which neither our parents began in us, nor great persons can advance for us, nor any prince can take from us. This is the Lord in this place, this is Jehovah, and Germen Jehovw13, the Lord, and the offspring of the Lord; and none is the offspring of God, but God, that is, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. So that this perfect blessedness consists in this, the true knowledge and worship of the Trinity.
And this blessing, that is, the true religion and profession of Christ Jesus, is to be upon all the people; which is our last consideration. Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance11. And here again
1S Isaiah ii. ult. "Isaiah iv. 2. "Psalm xxxiii. 12.
(as in tho former consideration of temporal blessedness) the people includes both prince and people; and then, the blessing consists in this, that both prince and people be sincerely affected to the true religion; and then, the people includes all the people; and so, the blessing consists in this, that thero be an unanimity, a consent in all, in matter of religion; and lastly, the people includes the future people; and there, the blessing consists in this, that our posterity may enjoy the same purity of religion that we do. The first temptation that fell amongst the apostles carried away one of them: Judas was transported with the temptation of money; and how much? For thirty pieces, and in all likelihood he might have made more profit than that, out of the privy purse; the first temptation carried one, but tho first persecution carried away nine, when Christ was apprehended, none was left but two, and one of these two, St. Hierome, says, Utinam fugisset et non negasset Christum, I would Peter had fled too, and not scandalized the cause more by his stay, in denying his master: for, a man may stay in the outward profession of the true religion, with such purposes, and to such ends, as he may thereby damnify the cause more, and damnify his own soul more, than if he went away to that religion, to which his conscience (though ill rectified) directs him. Now, though when such temptations, and such persecutions do come, the words of our Saviour Christ will always bo true, Fear not little flock, for it is God's pleasure to give you the kingdom", though God can lay up his seed-corn in any little corner, yet the blessing intended here, is not in that little seedcorn, nor in the corner, but in the plenty, when all the people are blessed, and tho blessed spirit blows where he will, and no door nor window is shut against him.
And therefore let all us bless God, for that great blessing to us, in giving us such princes, as make it their care, Ne bona caduca sint, ne mala recidiva, that that blessedness which wo enjoy by them, may never depart from us, that those miseries which we felt before them, may never return to us. Almighty God make always to us all, prince and people, these temporal blessings which we enjoy now, peace and plenty, and health, seals of his spiritual blessings, and that spiritual blessedness, which we enjoy now,
1* Luke xii. 32.
the profession of the only true religion, a seal of itself, and a seal of those eternal blessings, which the Lord, the righteous Judgo hath laid up for his, in that kingdom which his Son, our Saviour hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. In which glorious Son of God, &c.