The First Sermon After Our Dispersion By The Sickness.
A SERMON PREACHED AT ST. DUNSTAN'S, JANUARY 15, 1628.
Exodus xii. 30.
For there was not a house where there was not one dead.
God intended life and immortality for man: and man by sin induced death upon himself at first: when man had done so, and that now man was .condemned, man must die; yet God gave him, though not an absolute pardon, yet a long reprieve; though not a new immortality, yet a life of seven and eight hundred years upon earth: and then, misery, by sin, growing upon man, and this long life which was enlarged in his favour being become a burden unto him, God abridged and contracted his seven hundred to seventy, and his eight hundred to eighty years, the years of his life came to be threescore and ten; and if misery do suffer him to exceed those, even the exceeding itself is misery. Death then is from ourselves, it is our own; but the executioner is from God, it is his, he gives life; no man can quicken his own soul, but any man can forfeit his own soul: and yet when he hath done so, he may not be his own executioner; for as God liveth, so he killeth, says Moses there: not as the cause of death, for death is not his creature; but because he employs what person he will, and executes by what instrument it pleases him to choose, age or sickness, or justice, or malice, or (in our apprehension) fortune. In that history from whence we deduce this text, which was that great execution, the sudden death of all the first-born of Egypt; it is very large, and yet we may usefully, and to good purpose enlarge it, if we take into our consideration spiritual death, as well as bodily: for so in our houses from whence we came hither, if we left but a servant, but a child in the cradle at home, there is one dead in that house. If we have no other house but this which we carry about us, this house of clay, this tabernacle of flesh, this body, yet if we consider the inmate, the sojourner within this house, the state of our corrupt and putrefied soul, there is one dead in this house too. And though we be met now in the house of God, and our God be the God of life, yet even in this house of the God of life, and the ground enwrapped in the same consecration; not only of every such house, but let every man's length in the house be a house; of every such space this text will be verified, There is not a house where there is not one dead.
God is abundant in his mercies to man, and as though he did but learn to give by his giving, as though he did but practise to make himself perfect in his own art, which art is bountiful mercy; as though all his former blessings were but in the way of earnest, and not of payment; as though every benefit that he gave, were a new obligation upon him, and not an acquittance to him; he delights to give where he hath given, as though his former gifts were but his places of memory, and marks set upon certain men, to whom he was to give more. It is not so good a plea in our prayers to God, for temporal or for spiritual blessings, to say, Have mercy upon me now, for I have loved thee heretofore, as to say, Have mercy upon me, for thou hast loved me heretofore. We answer a beggar, I gave you but yesterday; but God therefore gives us to-day, because he gave us yesterday: and therefore are all his blessings wrapped up in that word, Panis quotidianus, Give us this day our daily bread: every day he gives; and early every day; his manna falls before the sun rises, and his mercies are new every morning. In this consideration of his abounding in all ways of mercy to us, we consider justly how abundant he is in instructing us. He writes his law once in our hearts, and then he repeats that law, and declares that law again in his written Word, in his Scriptures. He writes his law in stone tables once; and then those tables being broken, he repeats that law, writes that law again in other tables. He gives us his law in Exodus and Leviticus, and then he give us a Deuteronomy, a repetition of that law, another time in another book. And as he abounds so in instructing us, in going the same way twice over towards us, as he gives us the law a second time, so he gives us a second way of instructing us; he accompanies, he seconds his law with examples. In his legal books we have rules; in the historical, examples to practise by. And as he is every way abundant, as he hath added law to nature, and added example to law, so he hath added example to example; and by that text which we have read to you here, and by that text which we have left at home, our house and family, and by that text which we have brought hither, ourselves, and by that text which we find here, where we stand, and sit, and kneel upon the bodies of some of our dead friends or neighbours, he gives to us, he repeats to us, a full, a various, a multiform, a manifold catechism, and institution, to teach us that it is so absolutely true, that there is not a house in which there is not one dead, as that (taking spiritual death into our consideration) there is not a house in which there is one alive.
That therefore we may take in light at all these windows that God opens for us, that we may lay hold upon God by all thcso handles which he puts out to us, we shall make a brief survey of these four houses; of that in Egypt, where the text places it; of that at home, in which we dwell; of this, which is ourselves, where we always are, or always should be within; and of this in which we are met, where God is in so many several temples of his, as are above and under ground: so that this sermon may be a general funeral sermon, both for them that are dead in the flesh, and for ourselves, that are dead in our sins; for of all these four houses it is true, and by useful accommodation, appliable to all, There is not a house where there is not one dead.
First then to survey the first house, the house in Egpyt, Pharaoh, by drawing upon himself and his land this last and heaviest plague of the ten, the universal, the sudden, the midnight destruction of all, all the first-born of Egypt, hath made himself a monument, and a history, and a pillar everlasting to the end of the world, to the end of all place in the world, and to the end of all time in the world, by which all men may know, that man, how perverse soever, cannot weary God; that man cannot add to his rebellions so many heavy circumstances, but that God can add as many, as heavy degrees to his judgments. First, God turns their rivers into blood; Pharaoh sits * that process, and more, many more; and then in this bloody massacre of all their first-born, God brings blood out of the channels of their rivers, into their chambers, into all their chambers: not only to cut off their children from without, and the young men from the streets1 (as the prophet speaks) but (as he says also there) Death came in at their windows, and entered into their palaces. As Christ says of Mary Magdalen's devotion, that wheresoever his Gospel should be preached in the world, there should also this which this woman had done, be told for a memorial of her*: so we may say of man's obduration, Wheresoever the Book of God shall be read, Pharaoh shall be an example, that God will have his ends, let man be possessed with the spirit of contradiction as furiously, with the spirit of rebellion as ragefully as he will. Fremuerunt gentes, says David in the beginning of the second Psalm, The heathen rage, and they break their sleep to contrive mischief. And within three verses more we find, The Lord sits still in heaven, and laughs, and hath them in derision. The building of the tower of Babel did not put God to build another tower to confront it; God did nothing, and brought all their labours and their counsels to nothing. God took no hammer in hand to demolish and cast down Nebuchadnezzar's image8, but a stone
• i. «. I suppose, "sits out," abides, endures. But this sense is not in the dictionaries.—Ed.
1 Jer. ix. 21. 'Matt. xxvi. 13. * Dan. ii. 34.
that was cut out without hands, smote the image, and broke it in pieces. Si inceperit, if God once set bis work on foot, If I begin, I tcill also make an end, says God to Samuel'; if he have not begun, si juraverit, if the Lord have sworn it, it shall be, (those whom the Lord swore should not enter into his rest, never entered into his rest). If he have not sworn, si locutus fuerit, that is security enough, the security that the prophet Esay gives through all his prophecy, os Domini, thus and thus it must be, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it: if he have not gone so far, si cogitaverit, if he have purposed it, as that word is used in Esay5; if he have determined it, as the word is used in the Chronicles*: if he have devised such a course, as the word is in Jeremy7; God Kill accomplish his work, if he have begun it; his oath and word, if he have said or sworn it; his purpose and determination, if ho have intended it; nothing shall frustrate or evacuate his purpose, he will achieve his ends, though there be never a soul that doth not sigh, never a heart that doth not ache, never a vein that doth not bleed, never a house in which there is not one dead.
In the building of the material temple, there was no hammer, nor tool of noise used: in the fitting and laying of us, the living stones of the mystical temple, God would use no hammer, no iron, no occasion of noise, or lamentation; but there are dispositions which will not be rectified without the hammer, and are not malleable neither, not fit to be rectified by the hammer, till a hot fire of vehement affliction have mollified them. Thespesius, they say, was a man desperately vicious, irrecoverably wicked; his friends asked the oracle whether ever he would mend I The oracle answered, he would when he was dead; he died of a sudden fall, at least to the eyes, and in the understanding of the world he died; but ho recovered, and came to life again, and then reported such fearful visions which he had seen in the other world, upon the souls of some of his companions, and of his own father, as that out of the apprehension of those terrors in his ecstasy, in his second life, he justified the oracle; and after he had been dead, lived well. Many such stories are in the legends; but I take this at the fountain where they take most of theirs, that
is, out of Plutarch; for Plutarch and Virgil are two principal evangelists of the legendaries. The moral of them all is, that God will imprint a knowledge of his majesty, and a terror of his judgments, though the heart be iron: he would bring the Egyptians to say with trembling, We are dead men, though they would not be brought to say it, till there was not a house in which there was not one dead.
But as in a river that is swelled, though the water do bring down sand and stones, and logs, yet the water is there still; and the purpose of nature is to vent that water, not to pour down that sand, or those stones: so though God be put to mingle his judgments with his mercies, yet his mercy is there still, and his purpose is, ever in those judgments, to manifest his mercy. Where the channel is stopped by those sands, and stones, and logs, the water will find another channel; where the heart is hardened by God's corrections, and thereby made incapable of his mercy, (as in some dispositions, even God's corrections do work such obstructions and obdurations, as in Pharaoh's case it was) yet the water will find a channel, the mercy of God will flow out, and show itself to others, though not to him; his mercy will take effect somewhere, as (in Pharaoh's case) it did upon the children of Israel. And yet God would not show mercy to them, but so, as that at the same time they also might see his judgments, and thereby be brought to say, God hath a treasury of both, mercy and justice; iind God might have changed the persons, and made the Egyptians the objects of his mercies, and us of his justice.
The first act of God's mercy towards me, when I see him execute a judgment upon another, is to confess, that that judgment belonged to me, and thereby to come to a holy fear, being under the same condemnation; as the one thief said to the other, upon their several crosses; Fearest not thou, being under the same condemnation? At this time God delivered his children out of Egypt; then was fulness of mercy: but God let them see his power and his powerful indignation upon others, for their instruction. God brought them out; there was fulness of mercy towards them: but he brought them out in the night. God would mingle some shadow, some signification of his judgments in his mercies, of adversity in prosperity, of night in day, of death in life. The persecuting angel entered into none of their houses, God let them live; but God, though he let them live, would not let them be ignorant, that he could have thrown death in at their windows too: For they came not intg a house where there was not one dead.
We stay no longer upon this first survey of the first house, that in Egypt: the next is, our own house, our habitation, our family. We have in the use of our church, a short, and a larger catechism; both instruct the same things, the same religion, but some capacities require the one, and some the other. God would catechise us in the knowledge of our mortality; sinco we have divested our immortality, he would have us understand our mortality; since we have induced death upon ourselves, God would raise such a benefit to us, out of death, as that by the continual meditation thereof, death might the less terrify us, and the less damnify us. First, his law alone does that office, even his common law, Morte morieris, and stipendium peccati mors est: All have sinned, and all must die. And so his statute law too, Statutum est, it is enacted, it is appointed to man once to die9: and then as a comment upon that law, he presents to us, either his great catechisms, Sennacherib's catechism*, in which we see almost two hundred thousand soldiers, (more by many than both sides arm and pay, in these noiseful wars of our neighbours) slain in one night; or Jeroboam's catechism10, where twelve hundred thousand being presented in the field, (more by many, than all the kings of Christendom arm and pay) five hundred thousand men, chosen men, and men of mighty valour, (as the text qualifies them) were slain upon side in one day; or David's catechism", where threescore and ten thousand were devoured of the pestilence, we know not in how few hours; or this Egyptian catechism, of which we can make no conjecture, because we know no number of their houses; and there was not a house, in which there was not one dead; or God presents us his catechism in the Primitive church, where every day may be written in red ink, every day the church celebrated five hundred, in some copies five
thousand martyrs every day, that had writ down their names in their own blood, for the Gospel of Christ Jesus; or God presents us his catechism in the later Roman church; where, upon our attempt of the Reformation, they boast to have slain in one day seventy millions, in another two hundred millions of them that attempted and assisted the Reformation; or else God presents his lesser catechisms, the several funerals of our particular friends in the congregation; or he abridges this catechism of the congregation to a less volume than that, to the consideration of every particular piece of our own family at home: For so, there is not a house, in which there is not one dead.
Have you not left a dead son at home, whom you should have chastened1", whilst there was hope, and have not? Whom you should have beaten with the rod, to deliver his soul from hell, and have not? Whom you should have made an Abel, a keeper of sheep; or a Cain, a tiller of the ground"; that is, bestowed him, bound him, to some occupation, or profession, or calling, and have not? You may believe God without an oath; but God hath sworn, That because Eli restrained not the insolences of his sons, no sacrifice should purge his house for ever1*. And scarce shall you find in the whole book of God, any so vehement an intermination, any judgment so vehemently imprinted, as that upon Eli, for not restraining the insolences of his sons: for in that case God says, / will do a thing in Israel, at ithich, both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle: that is, he would inflict a sudden death upon the father, for his indulgence to his sons. Have ye not left such a dead son, dead in contumacy, and in disobedience, at home? Have you not left a dead daughter at home? A daughter whom you should have kept at home, and have not; but suffered, with Dinah, to go out to see the daughters of the land, and so expose herself to dangerous temptations, as Dinah did"? Have ye not left a dead servant at home, whom ye have made so perfect in deceiving of others, as that now he is able to take out a new lesson of himself, and deceive you? Have you left no dead inmates, dead sojourners, dead lodgers at home? Of whom, so they advance your profit, you take no care how
18 Prov. xix. 18; and xxxiii. 13.
14 1 Sam. iii. 13.
"Gen. iv. 2. 15 Gen. xxxiv. I.
vicious in themselves they be, or how dangerous to the state. Gather men, and women, and children, and strangers within thy gate, says God, that they may all learn the law of the Lord". If thy care spread not over all thy family, whosoever is dead in thy family by thy negligence, thou shalt answer" the king that subject, that is, the King of heaven that soul.
We have (as we proposed to do) surveyed this house in Egypt, where the text lays it, and the house at home where we dwell; there is a third house, which we are, this house of clay, and of mud walls, ourselves, these bodies. And is there none dead there? not within us? The house itself is ready to fall as soon as it is set up: the next thing that we are to practise after we are born, is to die. The timber of this house is but our bones; and, My bones are waxen old, says David1*; and perchance not with age, but as Job says, His bones are full of the sins of his youth". The loam walls of this house are but this flesh; and Our strength is not the strength of stones, neither is our flesh brass"; and therefore, Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm". The windows of this house are but our eyes; and, The light of mine eyes is gone from me, says David; and we know not how, nor how soon. The foundation is but our feet; and, besides that Our feet stumble at noon, (as the prophet complains") David found them so cold, as that no art nor diligence could warm them. And the roof and covering of this house, is but this thatch of hair; and it is denounced by more than one of the prophets, That upon all heads shall fall baldness": the house itself is always ready to fall; but is there not also always some dead in this house, in ourselves? Is not our first-born dead? Our first-born (says St. Augustine) are the offspring of our beloved sin; for we have some concubine sins, and some one sin that we are married to: whatsoever we have begot upon that wife, whatsoever we have got by that sin, that is our first-born, and that is dead: how much the better
'« Deut. xxxi. 12.
17 This elliptical sense of " answer," " to give account, to ... for . . . "is not noticed in the dictionaries.—Ed.
"Psalm xxxii. 3. "Job xx. 11. "Job vi. 12.
81 Jer. xvii. 5. "Isaiah i.ix. 10. "* Isaiah xv. 23; Jer. XLviiL 37.
The fourth house falling under this survey, is this house in which we are met now, the house of God; the church and the ground wrapped up in the same consecration: and in this house you have seen, and seen in a lamentable abundance, and seen with sad eyes, that for many months there hath scarce been one day in which there hath not been one dead. How should there be but multiplicity of deaths? Why should it be, or be looked to be, or thought to be otherwise? The master of the house, Christ Jesus, is dead before; and now it is not so much a part of our punishment, for the first Adam, as an imitation of the second Adam, to die; death is not so much a part of our debt to nature, or sin, or Satan, as a part of our conformity to him who died for us. If death were in the nature of it merely evil to us, Christ would have redeemed us, even from this death, by his death. But as the death of Christ Jesus is the physic of mankind, so this natural death of the body is the application of that physic
** He had said above (p. 58) that Plutarch and "Virgil were the evangelists of the legendaries. This " mischievous invention" seems to have been borrowed from the latter:—
Mortua quinetiam jungebat corpora vivis, &c. Aen, viii. 485.
to every particular man, who only by death can be made capable of that glory which his death hath purchased for us. This physic, all they whom God hath taken to him, have taken, and (by his grace) received life by it. Their first-born is dead; the body was made before the soul, and that body is dead. Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not. If these children, and parents, and friends, and neighbours of ours were not, if they were resolved into an absolute annihilation, we could not be comforted in their behalf; but Christ, who says, he is the life, lest we should think that to belong only to this life, says also that he is the resurrection. We were contracted to Christ in our election, married to him in our baptism, in the grave we are bedded with him, and in the resurrection estated and put into possession of his kingdom: and therefore, because these words do not only affect us with that sad consideration, that there is none of these houses in which there is not one dead; but minister withal that consolation, that there is none so dead, but may have a resurrection. We shall pass another short survey over all these houses.
Thus far we have surveyed these four houses, Egypt, our families, ourselves, and the church, as so mamy places of infection, so many temporal or spiritual pesthouses, into which our sins had heaped powder, and God's indignation had cast a match to kindle it. But now the very phrase of the text, which is, That in every house there was one dead, There was, invites us to a more particular consideration of God's mercy, in that, howsoever it were, it is not so now; in which we shall look how far this beam of mercy shines out in every of these houses, that it is not so now, there is not one dead in every house now; but the infection, (temporal and spiritual infection) is so far ceased, as that not only those that are alive, do not die, as before; but those whom we called dead, are not dead; they are alive in their spirits, in Abraham's bosom; and they are alive in their very bodies, in their contract and inherence in Christ Jesus in an infallible assurance of a joyful resurrection.
Now in the survey of the first sort of houses, of Egypt, herein we are interrupted. Here they were dead, and are dead still: we see clearly enough God's indignation upon them; but we see neither of those beams of mercy, either that there die no more, or that we have the comfort of a joyful resurrection in them who are dead: for this fearful calamity of the death of their first-born wrought no more upon them, but to bring them to that exclamation, that vociferation, that voice of despairful murmuring, Omnes moriemur, We are all dead men: and they were mischievous prophets upon themselves; for, proceeding in that sin which induced that calamity and the rest upon them, they pursued the children of Israel through the Red Sea, and perished in it; and then they came not to die one in a house, but as it is expressed in the story, and repeated in the Psalms, There remained not so much as one of them alive"; so that in their case there is no comfort in the first beam of mercy, that this phrase, they were dead, or they did die, should intimate, that now they did not die, now God's correction had so wrought upon them, as that God withdrew that correction from them, for it pursued them, and accompanied them to their final and total destruction. And then for the other beam of mercy, of transferring them which seemed dead in the eyes of the world, to a better life, by that hand of death, to present happiness in their souls, and to an assured resurrection to joy and glory in their bodies, in the communion of God's saints, Moses hath given us little hope in their behalf; for thus he encourageth his countrymen in that place, The Egyptians whom you have seen this day, you shall see no more for ever": no more in this world, no more in the world to come. Beloved, as God empaled a Goshen in Egypt, a place for the righteous amongst the wicked; so there is an Egypt in every Goshen, nests of snakes in the fairest gardens, and even in this city (which in the sense of the Gospel, we may call, the holy city; as Christ called Jesusalem, though she had multiplied transgressions, the holy city, because she had not cast away his law, though she had disobeyed it: so howsoever your sins have provoked God, yet as you retain a zealous profession of the truth of his religion, I may in his name, and do in the bowels of his mercy, call you, the holy city) even in this city, no doubt but the hand of God fell upon thousands in this deadly infection,
who were no more affected with it, than those Egyptians, to cry out, Omnes moriemur, We can but die, and we must die: and, Edamus, et bibamus, eras moriemur, Let us eat and drink, and take our pleasure, and make our profits, for to-morrow we shall die, and so were cut off by the hand of God, some even in their robberies, in half-empty houses; and in their drunkenness, in voluptuous and riotous houses ; and in their lusts and wantonness, in licentious houses; and so took in infection and death, like Judas' sop, death dipt and soaked in sin. Men whose lust carried them into the jaws of infection in lewd houses, and seeking one sore perished with another; men whose rapine and covetousness broke into houses, and seeking the wardrobes of others, found their own winding-sheet, in the infection of that house where they stole their own death; men who sought no other way to divert sadness, but strong drink in riotous houses, and there drank up David's cup of malediction, the cup of condemned men, of death, in the infection of that place. For these men that died in their sins, that sinned in their dying, that sought and hunted after death so sinfully, we have little comfort of such men, in the phrase of this text, they were dead; for they are dead still: as Moses said of the Egyptians, I am afraid we may say of these men, We shall see them no more for ever.
But God will give us the comfort of this phrase in the next house; this next house is domus nostra, our dwelling-house, our habitation, our family; and there, they were dead; they were, but by God's goodness they are not. If this savour of death have been the savour of life unto us; if this heavy weight of God's hand upon us have awakened us to a narrower survey, and a better discharge of our duties towards all the parts of our families, we may say, to our comforts and his glory, There was a son dead in disobedience and murmuring; there was a daughter dead in a dangerous easiness of conversation; there was a servant dead in the practice of deceit and falsifying; there was, but the Lord hath breathed a new life into us, the Lord hath made even his tempest a refreshing, and putrefaction a perfume unto us. The same measure of wind that blows out a candle, kindles a fire; this correction that hath hardened some, hath entendered a ud mollified us; and howsoever there were dead sons, and dead
VOL. vi. P
daughters, and dead servants, this holy sense of God's judgments shall not only preserve for the future, that we shall admit no more such dead limbs into our family, but even give to them who were (in these kinds) formerly dead, a new life, a blessed resurrection from all their sinful habits, by the power of his grace, though reached to them with a bloody hand, and in a bitter cup, in this heavy calamity; and as Christ said of himself, they shall say in him, I was dead, but am alive; and by that grace of Ood, I am that I am.
The same comfort also shall we have in this phrase of the text, in our third house; the third house is not domus nostra, but domus nos, not the house we inhabit, but the house we carry; not that house which is our house, but that house which is ourselves: there also, they were dead; they were, but are not. For, beloved, we told you before in our former survey of these several houses, that our first-born, (for still ye remember, they were the first-born of Egypt, that induce all this application;) our first-born in this house, in ourselves, is our zeal; not merely and generally our religion, but our zeal to our religion. For religion in general, is natural to us; the natural man hath naturally some sense of God, and some inclination to worship that power, whom he conceives to be God, and this worship is religion. But then the first thing that this general pious affection produces in us, is zeal, which is an exaltation of religion. Primus actus voluntatis est amor; Philosophers and divines agree in that, that the will of man cannot be idle, and the first act that the will of man produces, is love; for till it love something, prefer and choose something, till it would have something, it is not a will; neither can it turn upon any object, before God. So that this first, and general, and natural love of God, is not begotten in my soul, nor produced by my soul, but created and infused with my soul, and as my soul; there is no soul that knows she is a soul, without such a general sense of the love of God. But to love God above all, to love him with all my faculties, this exaltation of this religious love of God, is the first-born of religion, and this is zeal. Religion, which is the worship of that power which I call God, does but make me a man; the natural man hath that religion; but that which makes me a father, and gives me an offspring, a first-born, that is zeal: by religion I am an Adam, but by zeal I am an Abel produced out of that Adam. Now if we consider times not long since past, there was scarce one house, scarce one of us, in whom this first-born, this zeal was not dead. Discretion is the ballast of our ship, that carries us steady; but zeal is the very freight, the cargason*7, the merchandise itself, which enriches us in the land of the living; and this was our case, we were all come to esteem our ballast more than our freight, our discretion more than our zeal; we had more care to please great men than God; more consideration of an imaginary change of times, than of unchangeable eternity itself. And as in storms it falls out often that men cast their wares and their freights overboard, but never their ballast, so soon as we thought we saw a storm, in point of religion, we cast off our zeal, our freight, and stuck to our ballast, our discretion, and thought it sufficient to sail on smoothly, and steadily, and calmly, and discreetly in the world, and with the time, though not so directly to the right haven. So our first-born in this house, in ourselves, our zeal, was dead. It was; there is the comfortable word of our text. But now, now that God hath taken his fan into his hand, and sifted his church, now that God hath put us into a straight and crooked limbeck, passed us through narrow and difficult trials, and set us upon a hot fire, and drawn us to a more precious substance and nature than before; now that God hath given our zeal a new concoction, a new refining, a new inanimation by this fire of tribulation, let us embrace and nurse up this new resurrection of this zeal, which his own Spirit hath begot and produced in us, and return to God with a whole and entire soul, without dividing or scattering our affections upon other objects; and in the sincerity of the true religion, without inclinations in ourselves, to induce, and without inclinableness, from others, upon whom we may depend, to admit, any drams of the dregs of a superstitious religion; for it is a miserable extremity, when we must take a little poison for physic. And so having made the right use of God's corrections, we shall enjoy the comfort of this
87 Cargason (from the Spanish eargacon), a cargo. Todd, in his edition of Johnson, says he has not found it except in liowell.—Ed.
phrase, in this house, ourselves, our first-born, our zeal was dead; it was, but it is not.
Lastly, in this fourth house, the house where we stand now, the house of God, and of his saints, God affords us a fair beam of this consolation, in the phrase of this text also, they were dead. How appliable to you, in this place, is that which God said to Moses, Put off thy shoes, for thou treadest on holy ground; put off all confidence, all standing, all relying upon worldly assurances, and consider upon what ground you tread; upon ground so holy, as that all the ground is made of the bodies of Christians, and therein hath received a second consecration. Every puff of wind within these walls, may blow the father into the son's eyes, or the wife into her husband's, or his into hers, or both into their children's, or their children's into both. Every grain of dust that flies here, is a piece of a Christian; you need not distinguish your pews by figures; you need not say, I sit with so many of such a neighbour, but I sit within so many inches of my husband's, or wife's, or child's, or friend's grave. Ambitious men never made more shift for places in court, than dead men for graves in churches; and as in our later times, we have seen two and two almost in every place and office, so almost every grave is oppressed with twins; and as at Christ's resurrection some of the dead arose out of their graves, that were buried again; so in this lamentable calamity, the dead were buried, and thrown up again before they were resolved to dust, to make room for more. But are all these dead? They were, says the text; they were in your eyes, and therefore we forbid not that office of the eye, that holy tenderness, to weep for them that are so dead. But there was a part in every one of them, that could not die; which the God of life, who breathed it into them, from his own mouth, hath sucked into his own bosom. And in that part which could die, they were dead, but they are not. The soul of man is not safer wrapt up in the bosom of God, than the body of man is wrapt up in the contract, and in the eternal decree of the resurrection. As soon shall God tear a leaf out of the book of life, and cast, so many of the elect into hell-fire, as leave the body of any of his saints in corruption for ever. To what body shall Christ Jesus be loth to put to his hand, to raise it from the grave, then, that put to his very Godhead, the divinity itself, to assume all our bodies, when in one person, he put on all mankind in his incarnation? As when my true repentance hath re-engrafted me in my God, and re-incorporated me in my Saviour, no man may reproach me, and say, Thou wast a sinner: so, since all these dead bodies shall be restored by the power, and are kept alive in the purpose of Almighty God, we cannot say, they are, scarce that they were dead. When time shall be no more, when death shall be no more, they shall renew, or rather continue their being. But yet, beloved, for this state of their grave, (for it becomes us to call it a state; it is not an annihilation, no part of God's saints can come to nothing) as this state of theirs is not to bo lamented, as though they had lost anything which might have conduced to their good, by departing out of this world; so neither is it a state to be joyed in so, as that we should expose ourselves to dangers unnecessarily, in thinking that we want anything conducing to our good, which the dead enjoy. As between two men of equal age, if one sleep, and the other wake all night, yet they rise both of an equal age in the morning; so they who shall have slept out a long night of many ages in the grave, and they who shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord Jesus in the air, at the last day, shall enter all at once in their bodies into heaven. No antiquity, no seniority for their bodies; neither can their souls who went before, be said to have been there a minute before ours, because we shall all be in a place that reckons not by minutes. Clocks and sun-dials were but a late invention upon earth; but the sun itself, and the earth itself, was but a late invention in heaven. God had been an infinite, a super-infinite, an unimaginable space, millions of millions of unimaginable spaces in heaven, before the creation. And our afternoon shall be as long as God's forenoon; for, as God never saw beginning, so we shall never see end; but they whom we tread upon now, and we whom others shall tread upon hereafter, shall meet at once, where, though we were dead, dead in our several houses, dead in a sinful Egypt, dead in our family, dead in ourselves, dead in the grave, yet we shall be received, with that consolation, and glorious consolation, You were dead, but are alive. Enter ye blessed into the kingdom, prepared for you, from the beginning. Amen.