A LENT SERMON PREACHED AT WHITEHALL,
FEBRUARY 12, 1618.
Ezekiel xxxiii. 32.
And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song, of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
As there lies always upon God's minister, a vw si non, woe be unto me, if I preach not the Gospel, if I apply not the comfortable promises of the Gospel, to all that groan under the burden of their sins; so there is onus vhionis, (which we find mentioned in the prophets) it was a pain, a burden to them, to be put to the denunciation of God's heavy judgments upon the people: but yet those judgments, they must denounce, as well as propose those mercies: woe be unto us, if we bind not up the broken-hearted; but woe be unto us too, if we break not that heart that is stubborn: woe be unto us, if we settle not, establish not the timorous and trembling, the scattered, and fluid, and distracted soul, that cannot yet attain, entirely and intensely, and confidently and constantly, to fix itself upon the merits and mercies I of Christ Jesus; but woe be unto us much more, if we do not shake, and shiver, and throw down the refractory and rebellious soul, whose incredulity will not admit the history, and whose security in presumptuous sins will not admit the working and application of those merits and mercies which are proposed to him. To this purpose, therefore, God makes his minister speculators; I have set thee for their watchman, says God to this prophet; that so they might see and discern the highest sins of the highest persons, in the highest places: they are not only to look down towards the streets, and lanes, and alleys, and cellars, and reprehend the abuses and excesses of persons of lower quality there; all their service lies not below stairs, nor only to look into the chamber, and reprehend the wantonnesses and licentiousness of both sexes there; nor only unto the house-top and tarries, and reprehend the ambitious machinations and practices to get thither; but still they are speculators, men placed upon a watchtower, to look higher than all this, to look upon sins of a higher nature than these, to note and reprehend those sins, which are done so much more immediately towards God, as they are done upon colour and pretence of religion: and upon that station, upon the execution of that commission, is our prophet in this text, Thou art unto them a very lovely song, &c, for they shall hear thy words, but they do them not. Through this whole chapter, he presents matter of that nature, either of too confident, or too diffident a behaviour towards God. In the tenth verse, he reprehends their diffidence and distrust in God: this they say (says the prophet) If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we live? How should you live? says the prophet: thus you should live, by hearing what the Lord of Life hath said, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. In the twenty-fifth verse he reprehends their confidence; they say, Abraham was one, and he inherited this land; we are many, this land is given us for our inheritance: but say unto them, says God to the prophet there, You lift up your eyes to idols, and you shed blood, and shall you possess the land? Ye defile one another's wife, and ye stand upon the sword, and shall ye possess the land? We were but one, and are many; it is true: God hath testified his love, in multiplying inhabitants, and in uniting kingdoms; but if there be a lifting up of eyes towards idols, a declination towards an idolatrous religion; if there be a defiling of one another's wife, and then standing upon the sword, that it must be matter of displeasure, or of quarrel, if one will not betray his wife, or sister, to the lust of the greatest person; shall we possess the land? shall we have a continuance of God's blessing upon us? we shall not. And as he thus represents their over-confident behaviour towards God; God is bound by his promise, and therefore we may be secure: and their over-diffident behaviour; God hath begun to show his anger upon us, and therefore there is no recovery: he reprehends also that distemper, which ordinarily accompanies this behaviour towards God, that is, an expostulation, and a disputing with God, and a censuring of his actions: in the twentieth verse, they come to say, The way of the Lord is not equal; that is, we know not how to deal with him, we know not where to find him; he promises mercies, and lays afflictions upon us; he threatens judgments upon the wicked, and yet the wicked prosper most of all; The ways of the Lord are equal. But, to this also God says by the prophet, / will judge every one of you after his own ways. The ways of the Lord are unsearchable; look ye to your own ways, for according to them, shall God judge you. And then after these several reprehensions, this watchman raises himself to the highest pinnacle of all, to discover the greatest sin of all, treason within doors, contemning of God in his own house, and in his presence; that is, a coming to church to hear the word of God preached, a pretence of cheerfulness and alacrity, in the outward service of God, yea a true sense and feeling of a delight in hearing of the word; and yet for all this, an unprofitable barrenness, and (upon the whole matter) a despiteful and a contumelious neglecting of God's purpose and intention, in his ordinance: for our voice is unto them but as a song to an instrument; they hear our words, but they do them not.
Though then some expositors take these words to be an increpation upon the people, that they esteemed God's ablest ministers, endued with the best parts, to be but as music, as a jest, as a song, as an entertainment; that they undervalued and disesteemed the whole service of God in the function of the ministry, and thought it either nothing, or but matter of state and government, as a civil ordinance for civil order, and no more: yet I take this increpation to reach to a sin of another nature; that the people should attribute reverence enough, attention enough, credit enough to the preacher, and to his preachings, but yet when all that is done, nothing is done: they should hear willingly, but they do nothing of that which they had heard.
First then, God for his own glory promises here, that his prophet, his minister shall be tuba, as is said in the beginning of this chapter, a trumpet, to awaken with terror. But then, he shall become carmen musicum, a musical and harmonious charmer, to settle and compose the soul again in a reposed confidence, and in a delight in God: he shall be musicum carmen, music, harmony to the soul in his matter; he shall preach harmonious peace to the conscience: and he shall be musicum carmen, music and harmony in his manner; he shall not present the messages of God rudely, barbarously, extemporally; but with such medita
Ition and preparation as appertains to so great an employment, from such a king as God, to such a state as his church: so he shall be musicum carmen, music, harmony, in re et modo, in matter and in manner: and then musicum so much farther (as the text adds) as that he shall have a pleasant voice, that is, to preach I first sincerely (for a preaching to serve turns and humours, canI not, at least should not please any) but then it is to preach acceptably, seasonably, with a spiritual delight, to a discreet and rectified congregation, that by the way of such a holy delight, they may receive the more profit. And then he shall play well on an instrument; which we do not take here to be the working upon the understanding and affections of the auditory, that the congregation shall be his instrument; but as St. Basil says, Corpus 3<i^i| hominis, Organum Dei, when the person acts that which the song says; when the words become works, this is a song to an instrument: for, as St. Augustine pursues the same purpose, Psallere O^d^ivs est ex preceptis Dei agere; to sing, and to sing to an instrument, is to perform that holy duty in action, which we speak of in discourse: and God shall send his people preachers furnished with all these abilities, to be tubw, trumpets to awaken them; and then to be carmen musicum, to sing God's mercies in their ears, in reverent, but yet in a diligent, and thereby a delightful
manner; and so to be music in their preaching, and music in their example, in a holy conversation; Eris, says God to this prophet, such a one thou shalt be, thou shalt be such a one in thyself; and then eris illis, thou shalt be so to them, to the people: to them thou shalt be tuba, a trumpet, thy preaching shall awaken them, and so bring them to some sense of their sins: to them thou shalt be carmen musicum, music and harmony; both in re, in thy matter, they shall conceive an apprehension or an offer of God's mercy through thee; and in modo, in the manner; they shall confess, that thy labours work upon them, and move them, and affect them, and that that unpremeditated, and drowsy, and cold manner of preaching, agrees not with the dignity of God's service: they shall acknowledge (says God to this prophet) thy pleasant voice; confess thy doctrine to be good, and confess thy playing upon an instrument, acknowledge thy life to be good too; for, in testimony of all this, audient (says the text) they shall hear this. Now, every one that might come, does not so; businesses, nay less than businesses, vanities, keep many from hence; less than vanities, nothing; many, that have nothing to do, yet are not here: all are not come that might come; nor are all that are here, come hither; penalty of law, observation of absences, invitation of company, affection to a particular preacher, collateral respects, draw men; and they that are drawn so, do not come; neither do all that are come, hear; they sleep, or they talk: but audient, says our text, they shall be here, they shall come, they shall hear; they shall press to hear: every one that would come, if he might sit at ease, will not be troubled for a sermon: but our case is better, audient, they shall rise earlier than their fellows, come hither sooner, endure more pains, hearken more diligently, and conceive more delight than their fellows: audient, they will hear: but then, after all (which is the height of the malediction, or increpation) non facient, they will not do it; Non facient quw dixeris, They will do nothing of that which thou hast said to them; nay, non facient quad dixerunt, They will do nothing of that, which during the time of the sermons, they had said to their own souls, they would do; so little hold shall God's best means, and by his best instruments, take of them; They shall hear thy words, and shall not do them.
These then are our parts that make up this increpation: first, the prophet shall do his part fully: secondly, the people shall do some of theirs: but then lastly, they shall fail in the principal, and so make all ineffectual. First, God will send them prophets that shall be tubw, trumpets; and not only that, but speculatores; not only trumpets which sound according to the measure of breath that is blown into them, but they themselves are the watchmen that are to sound them: not trumpets to sound out what airs the occasion of the present time, or what airs the affections of great persons infuse into them; for so they are only trumpets, and not trumpeters; but God hath made them both: and, as in civil matters, Augusta innocentia est, ad legem bomtm esse', That is but a narrow, but a faint honesty, to be no honester than a man must needs be, no honester than the law, or than his bodily sickness constrains him to be; so are these trumpets short-winded trumpets, if they sound no oftener than the canons enjoin them to sound; for, they must preach in season and out of season: if the canonical season be but once a month, the preaching between, is not so unseasonable, but that it is within the apostle's precept too. If that be done, if the watchman sound the trumpet, says the beginning of this chapter (when you see it is the watchman himself that sounds, and not another to sound him; he is neither to be an instrument of others, nor is he to sound always by others, and spare his own breath) but if the watchman do duly sound, then there is an Euge bone serve, belongs to him; Well done good and faithful servant, enter into thy Master's joy: and if he be fnot heard, or be not followed, then there is a vw Bethsaida, a woe I belonging to that city, and to that house; for, if those works had been done in Sodom, if all this preaching had been at Rome, Rome would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. I set watchmen over you, says God in another prophet8, Et dixi, audite, I said unto you, hearken to them: so far God addresses himself to them, speaks personally to them, super vos, and audite vos; I sent to you, and hear you: but when they would not hear, then he changes the person, Et dixerunt, says that text, And they said, We will not hear: after this stubbornness, God does not so much as speak to them: it is not dixistis, you said it; God will have no
1 Seneca. 'Jer. vi. 17.
more to do with them; but it is dixerunt, they said it; God speaks of them as of strangers. But this is not altogether the case in our text: God shall send prophets, trumpets, and trumpeters, that is, preachers of his word, and not the word of men; and they shall be heard willingly too; for as they are tubce, trumpets, so they shall be musicum carmen, acceptable music to them that hear them.
They shall be so, first in re, in their matter, in the doctrine which they preach. The same trumpets that sound the alarm I (that is, that awakens us from our security) and that sounds the battle (that is, that puts us into a colluctation with ourselves, with this world, with powers and principalities, yea into a wrestling with God himself and his justice) the same trumpet sounds the parley too, calls us to hearken to God in his word, and to speak to God in our prayers, and so to come to treaties and capitulations for peace; and the same trumpet sounds a retreat too, that is, a safe reposing of our souls in the merit, and in the I wounds of our Saviour Christ Jesus. And in this voice they are musicum carmen, a love-song (as the text speaks) in proposing the love of God to man, wherein he loved him so, as that he gave his only begotten Son for him. God made this whole world in such an uniformity, such a correspondency, such a concinnity of parts, as that it was an instrument, perfectly in tune: we may say, the trebles, the highest strings were disordered first; the best understandings, angels and men, put this instrument out of tune. God rectified all again, by putting in a new string, semen mulieris, the seed of the woman, the Messiah: and only by sounding that string in your ears, become we musicum carmen, true music, true harmony, true peace to you. If we shall say, that God's first string in this instrument, was reprobation, that God's first intention, was, for his glory to damn man; and that then he put in another string, of creating man, that so he might have somebody to damn; and then another of enforcing him to sin, that so he might have a just cause to damn him; and then another, of disabling him to lay hold upon any means of recovery: there is no music in all this, no harmony, no peace in such preaching. But if we take this instrument, when God's hand tuned it the second time, in the promise of a Messiah, and offer of the love and
mercy of God to all that will receive it in him; then we are truly musicum carmen, as a love-song, when we present the love of God to you, and raise you to the love of God in Christ Jesus: for, for the music of the spheres, whatsoever it be, we cannot hear it; for the decrees of God in heaven, we cannot say we have seen them; our music is only that salvation which is declared in the Gospel to all them, and to them only, who take God by the right hand, as he delivers himself in Christ.
So they shall be music in re, in their matter, in their doctrine; and they shall be also in modo, in their manner of presenting that doctrine. Religion is a serious thing, but not a sullen; religious preaching is a grave exercise, but not a sordid, not a barbarous, not a negligent. There are not so eloquent books in the world, as the Scriptures: except those names of tropes and figures, which the grammarians and rhetoricians put upon us, and we may be bold to say, that in all their authors, Greek and Latin, we cannot find so high, and so lively examples, of those tropes, and those figures, as we may in the Scriptures: whatsoever hath justly delighted any man in any man's writings, is exceeded in the Scriptures. The style of the Scriptures is a diligent, and an artificial style; and a great part thereof in a musical, in a metrical, in a measured composition, in verse'. The greatest mystery of our religion, indeed the whole body of our religion, the coming, and the kingdom of a Messiah, of a Saviour, of Christ, is conveyed in a song, in the third chapter of Habakkuk: and therefore the Jews say, that that song cannot yet be understood, because they say the Messiah is not yet come. His greatest work, when he was come, which was his union and marriage with the church, and with our souls, he hath also delivered in a piece of a curious frame, Solomon's song of songs. And so likewise, long before, when God had given all the law, he provided, as himself says, a safer way, which was to give them a heavenly song of his own making3: for that song, he says there, he was sure they would remember. So the Holy Ghost hath spoken in those instruments, whom he chose for the penning of the Scriptures, and so he would in those whom he sends for the preaching thereof: he would put in them a care of delivering God messages,
3 Deut. xxxi. 19.
with consideration, with meditation, with preparation; and not barbarously, not suddenly, not occasionally, not extemporarily, which might derogate from the dignity of so great a service. That ambassador should open himself to a shrewd danger and surprisal, that should defer the thinking upon his oration, till the prince, to whom he was sent, were reading his letters of credit: and it is a late time of meditation for a sermon, when the psalm is singing. Loquere Domine, says the prophet; Speak, 0 Lord: but it was when he was able to say, Ecce paratus, Behold I am prepared for thee to speak in me: if God shall be believed, to speak in us, in our ordinary ministry, it must be, when we have, so as we can, fitted ourselves, for his presence. To end this, then are we musicum carmen in modo, music to the soul, in the manner of our preaching, when in delivering points of divinity, we content ourselves with that language, and that phrase of speech, which the Holy Ghost hath expressed himself in, in the H Scriptures: for to delight in the new and bold terms of heretics, II furthers the doctrine of heretics too. And then also, are we musicum carmen, when, according to the example of men inspired by the Holy Ghost, in writing the Scriptures, we deliver the messages of God, with such diligence, and such preparation, as appertains to the dignity of that employment.
Now these two, to be music both these ways, in matter and in manner, concur and meet in the next, which is, to have a pleasant voice: Thou art a lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice. First, a voice they must have, they must be heard: if they silence themselves, by their ignorance, or by their laziness; if they occasion themselves to be silenced, by their contempt and contumacy, both ways they are inexcusable; for a voice is essential to them, that denominates them: John Baptist hath other great names; even the name of Baptist, is a great name, when we consider whom he baptized; him, who baptized the Baptist himself, and all us, in his own blood. So is his name of 5 preacher, the forerunner of Christ (for in that name he came before him, who was before the world;) so is his propheta, that he was a prophet, and then, more than a prophet; and then, the greatest among the sons of women; these were great names, but yet the name that he chose, is Vox clamantis, The voice of him that cries in the wilderness. What names and titles soever we receive in the school, or in the church, or in the state; if we lose our voice, we lose our proper name, our Christian name. But then, John Baptist's name is not a voice, any voice, but the voice: in the prophecy of Esay, in all the four evangelists, constantly, the voice. Christ is verbum, the word; not a word, but the word: the minister is vox, voice; not a Voice, but the voice, 'the voice of that word, and no other; and so, he is a pleasing voice, because he pleases him that sent him, in a faithful executing of his commission, and speaking according to his dictate; and pleasing to them to whom he is sent, by bringing the Gospel of peace and reparation to all wounded, and scattered, and contrite spirits.
They shall be music both ways, in matter, and in manner; and pleasing both ways, to God, and to men: but yet to none of these, except the music be perfect, except it be to an instrument, that is, as we said at first, out of St. Basil, and St. Augustine,
Iexcept the doctrine be expressed in the life too: Who will believe me when I speak, if by my life they see I do not believe myself! How shall I be believed to speak heartily against ambition and bribery in temporal and civil places, if one in the congregation be able to jog him that sits next him,'and tell him, That man offered me money for spiritual preferment! To what a dangerous scorn shall I open myself, and the service of God, if I shall declaim against usury, and look him in the face that hath my money at use! One such witness in the congregation, shall outpreach the preacher: and God shall use his tongue (perchance his malice) to make the service of that preacher ineffectual. Quam speciosi pedes Evangelizantium, says St. Paul4! (and he says that out of Esay, and out of Nahum too, as though the Holy Ghost had delighted himself with that phrase in expressing it) how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel! Men look most to our feet, to our ways: the power that makes men admire, may lie in our tongues; but the beauty that makes men love, lies in our feet, in our actions. And so we have done with all the pieces that constitute our first part: God, in his promise to that nation, prophesied upon us, that which he hath abun
4 Rom. x.
dantly performed, a ministry, that should first be trumpets, and then music: music, in fitting a reverent manner, to religious matter; and music, in fitting an instrument to the voice, that is, their lives to their doctrine. Eris, said God here to this prophet, All this thou shalt be: and that leads us into our second part.
Now, in this second part, there is more; for it is not only eris, thou shalt be so in thyself, and as thou art employed by me; but eris illis, thou shalt be so unto them, they shall receive thee for such, acknowledge thee to be such: God provides a great measure of ability in the prophet, and some measure of good inclination in the people. Eris illis tuba, thou shalt be to them, they shall feel thee to be a trumpet: they shall not say in their hearts, i there is no God; they shall not say, Tush, the Lord sees us not, or he is a blind, or an indifferent God, or, the Lord is like one of us, he loves peace, and will be at quiet; but they shall acknowledge, that he is Dominus exercituum, the Lord of hosts, and that the prophet is his trumpet, to raise them up to a spiritual battle. Eris illis tuba, thou shalt be to them a trumpet, they shall not be secure in their sins; and eris illis carmen musicum, by thy preaching they shall come to confess, that God is a God of harmony, and not of discord; of order, and not of confusion; and that, as he made, so he governs all things, in weight, and number, and measure; that he hath a succession, and a hierarchy in his church; that it is a household of the faithful, and a kingdom of saints, and therefore regularly governed, and by order, and that in this government no man can give himself orders, no man can baptize himself, nor give himself the body and blood of Christ Jesus, nor preach to himself, nor absolve himself; and therefore they shall come to thee, whom they shall confess to be appointed by God, to convey these graces unto them: eris illis carmen musicum: from thee they shall accept that music, the orderly application of God's mercies, by visible and outward means in thy ministry in the church. Eris illis vox suavis, they shall confess thou preacliest true doctrine, and appliest it powerfully to their consciences; and eris illis vox ad citharam, thou j shalt be a voice to an instrument: they shall acknowledge thy life to be agreeable to thy doctrine; they shall quarrel thee, . challenge thee in neither, not in doctrine, not in manners.
Such as God appoints thee to be, eris, thou shalt be; and eris Mis, they shall respect thee as such, and reward thee as such: and they shall express that, in that which follows, audient, they shall hear thy word. The_worldIy man, though it trouble him to hear thee, though it put thorns and brambles into his conscience, yet though it be but to beget an opinion of holiness in others, audiet, he will hear thee. The fashional man, that will do as he sees great men do, if their devotion, or their curiosity, or their service and attendance, draw him hither, audiet, he will come with them, and he will hear. He that is disaffected in his heart, to the doctrine of our church, rather than incur penalties of statutes and canons, audiet, he will come, and hear: yea, there is ij more than that, intended, audient, they shall hear willingly; and I more than that too, audient, they shall hear cheerfully, desirously.
Here is none of that action which was in St. Stephen's per- Aat.fl5'! • secutors, continuerunt aures", they withheld their ears, they withdrew themselves from hearing, they kept themselves out of \ distance; here is no such recusancy intended; neither is there _ any of their actions, Qui obturant aures, as the Psalmist says0, The serpent does, who (as the fathers note often) stops one ear with laying it close to the ground, and the other with covering it with his tail: here is none of their action, qui in durant, nor qui Ij^ ri^ declinanf; none that turneth away his ear (for even his prayer ' * shall be an abomination, says Solomon8; his very being here is a ^inj_here, in our case, in our text, is none of these indispositions; but here is a ready, a willing, and (in appearance) a religious D coming to hear: expectation, acceptation, acclamation, congratuI lation, remuneration, in a fair proportion; we complain of no want in any of these now. Sumus, God hath authorized us, and God hath exalted us, in some measure, to deliver his messages; and sumus vobis, you do not deny us to be such; you do not refuse, but you receive us, and his messages by us; you do hear our words. And that is all that belonged to our second part. . Now in both these former parts, who can discern, who would | suspect any foundation to be laid for an increpation, any preparaI tion for a malediction or curse! God will send good preachers
8 Acts vii. 57.
7 Jer. vii. 26.
*Psalm Lviii. 8 Prov. xxviii. 9.
to the people, and the people shall love their preaching ; and yet, as he said to Samuel, He will do a thing, at which both the ears of him that hears it shall tingle8. Now, what is that in our case? This; he will aggravate their condemnation, therefore, because they have been so diligent herein, et non fecerunt, they have done nothing of that which they have heard. As our very repentance contracts the nature of sin, if we persevere not in that holy purpose; but, as though we had then made even with God, sin on again upon a new score: so this hearing itself is a sin, that is, such an aggravating circumstance, as changes the very nature of the sin, to them that hear so much, and do nothing. This is not a preparation of that curse in Kzekiel10; whether they will hear or forbear, yet they shall know, that a prophet
Ihath been among them; that is, hear, or hear not, subsequent judgments shall bring them to see, that they might have heard: but here God accompanies them with a stronger grace, than so; audient, they will hear. There are vipers in the Psalm that will not hear, how wisely soever the charmers charm; but there is a generation of vipers11 which do hear, and yet depart with none of their viperous nature: 0 generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come! says John Baptist, there to the Pharisees and Sadducees, that came to his baptism. They had apprehended tubam, a warning, and they did come; but when they were come, he found them in their non faciunt, without any purpose of bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance.
IHere then is St. Paul's Judarns in abscondito, a Jew inwardly Here is the true recusant, and the true non-conformitan; audiunt, sed non faciunt: he comes to hear, but never comes to do; there is recusancy: he confesses that he hath received good instruction, but he refuses to conform himself unto it; there is non-conformity. First, non facient quw dixeris, they will not do those things which thou hast said; and yet, that is strange, since they confess thou sayest true: but yet that is not so strange; for they may be duri sermonis; though it be true that we say, it may be hard, and it may trouble them, and perchance damnify them in their profit, or mortify them in their pleasures. It may be we
9 1 Sam. iii. 11. 10 Ezek. ii. 5.
11 Matt. iii. 7. i* Rom. ii. 29.
ymay say, that thy relapsing into a sin formerly repented, submits Uthee again to all the punishment due to the former sin; and that is durus sermo, a hard saying: it may be we may say, that a repentance which hath all other formal parts of a true repentance, if it reach not to all the branches, and to all the specifying differences and circumstance of thy sins, so far as a diligent examination of thy conscience can carry thee, is a void repentance; and that is darus sermo, a hard saying. It may be we may say, that though thou hast truly and entirely repented, though thou do leave the practice of the sin, yet if thou do not also leave that which
Ithou hast corruptly got by the ways of that sin, the sin itself lies upon thee still; and that is durus sermo, a hard saying: and Christ' s own disciples forsook him, and forsook him for ever, quia ^ durus sermo13, because that which Christ said, seemed to them a hard saying. This we may say; and they may come to hear, and come to say we say true, and yet non facient quw dixeris, never do any of that which we say, quia duri sermones, because we press things hardly upon them.
But yet that is not so strange, as non facere quw dixerint, not to do those things which they have said themselves. That when, as the apostle says of the Corinthians, Vos estis, You are our * epistle, not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living i God: so a man, by hearing, is become evangelium sibi, a gospel | to himself; and by the preaching of the Gospel, is come to say, Non amplius, I will go, and sin no more, lest a worse thing fall unto me: yet he goes and sins again, fall what will, or can fall; and non facit quw dixerit, he does not perform his own promise to himself. He is affected with some particular passage in a sermon, and then he comes to David's secundum innocentiam; O 3<'' Lord, deal with me according to my future innocence; show thy \-; \ mercy to me, as I keep myself from that sin hereafter; and then, abominantur eum vestimenta ejus", his old clothes defile him again, his old rags cast vermin upon him, his old habits of sin throw new dirt upon him. He goes out of the church as that man's son went from his father, who sent him to work in the vineyard, with that word in his mouth, Bo Domine, Sir, 1 go15;
13 John vi. 60. u Job ix. 31. 15 Matt xxi. 28.
but he never went, he turns another way, non facit quw dixerat, i he keeps not his own word, with his own soul: when he is gone out of his right way, a sickness, a disgrace, a loss overtakes him, the arrows of the Almighty stick in him, and the venom thereof drinks up his spirit; temporal afflictions, and spiritual afflictions meet in him, like two clouds, and beat out a thunder upon him; like two currents, and swallow him; like two millstones, and grind him; and then he comes to his Domine quid retribuam? Lord, what shall I give thee, to deliver me now? and non facit quae dixerat, he pays none of those vows, performs no part of that which he promised then. Christ had his consummatum est, and this sinner hath his: Christ ends his passion, and he ends his action; Christ ends his affliction, and n he ends his affection: Distulit securim, attulit securitatem, says St. Augustine of this case; As soon as the danger is removed, his devotion is removed too. The end of all is, that what punishment soever God reserves for them, who never heard of the name of his Son Christ Jesus at all, or for them who have pretended to receive him, but have done it idolatrously, superstitiously; we
Ithat have heard him, we that have had the Scriptures preached and applied to us sincerely, shall certainly have the heavier condemnation, for having had that which they wanted: our multiplicity of preachers, and their assiduity in preaching; our true interpretation of their labours, when we do hear, and our diligent coming, that we may hear, shall leave us in worse state than they found us, si non fecerimus, if we do not do that which we hear. And to do the Gospel, is to do what we can for the preservation of the Gospel. I know what I can do, as a minister of the Gospel, and of God's Word; out of his Word I can preach against linseywoolsey garments; out of his Word I can preach against ploughing with an ox, and with an ass, against mingling of religions. I know what I can do, as a father, as a master; I can preserve my family from attempts of Jesuits. Those that are of higher place, magistrates, "know what they can do too: they know they can execute laws; if not to the taking of life, yet to the restraining of liberty: and it is no seditious saying, it is no sauciness, it is no bitterness, it is no boldness to say, that the spiritual death of those souls, who perish by the practice of those
seducers, whom they might have stopped, lies upon them. And how knows he, who lets a Jesuit escape, whether he let go but a fox, that will deceive some simple soul in matter of religion; or a wolf, who, but for the protection of the Almighty, would adventure upon the person of the highest of all? Non facient quw dixeris, is as far as the text goes; They will not do that we say: but quw dixerint, is more; they will not do that which themselves have said: but, quw juraverint, is most of all; if they will not do that, which for the preservation of the Gospel, they have taken an oath to do, the increpation, the malediction intended by God, in this text, that all our preaching, and all our hearing shall aggravate our condemnation, will fall upon us: and therefore, this being the season, in which, especially, God affords you the performance of that part of this prophecy, assiduous, and laborious, and acceptable, and useful preaching; where all you, of all sorts, are likely to hear the duties of administration towards others, and of mortification in yourselves, powerfully represented unto you, this may have been somewhat necessarily said by me now, for the removing of some stones out of their way, and the chafing of that wax, in which they may thereby make the deeper and clearer impressions; that so, we may not only be to you, as a lovely song, sung to an instrument; nor you only hear our words, but do them. Amen.