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When I had resolved, at the desire of the Honourable Judge of Assize, to publish the foregoing sermon, I remembered that, about six years before, I had preached another on the like occasion, on a subject so like, and to so like a purpose, that I conceived it not unfit to be annexed to the former. I have endeavoured to show you, in both these sermons, that Christ may be preached without Antinomianism; that terror may be preached without unwarrantable preaching the law; that the gospel is not a mere promise, and that the law is not so terrible as it is to the rebellious: as also what that superstructure is, which is built on the foundation of general redemption rightly understood; and how ill we can preach Christ's dominion in his universal propriety and sovereignty, or yet persuade men to sanctification and subjection, without this foundation. I have laboured to fit ah, or alınost all, for matter and manner, to the capacity of the vulgar. And though, for the matter, it is as necessary to the greatest, yet it is for the vulgar, principally, that I publish it; and had rather it might be numbered with those books which are carried up and down the country from door to door in ped. lars' packs, than with those that lie on booksellers' stalls, or are set up in the libraries of learned divines. And to the same use would I design the most of my published labours, should God afford me time and ability, and contentious brethren give me leave.
August 7, 1654.
ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHRIST.
PSALM ii. 10, 11, 12.
Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings ; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with
. trembling, &c.
To waste this precious hour in an invective against injustice and its associates, is none of my purpose; they are sins so directly against the principles in nature, so well known, I believe, to you all, and so commonly preached against upon these occasions, that upon the penalty of forfeiting the credit of my discretion, I am bound to make choice of a more necessary subject. What? Have we need to spend our time and studies to persuade Christians from bribery, perjury, and oppression; and from licking up the vomit which pagans have cast out? And that in an age of blood and desolation, when God is taking the proudest oppressors by the throats, and raising monuments of justice upon the ruins of the unjust. And I would fain believe that no corrupt lawyers do attend your judicatures, and that Jezebel's witnesses dwell not in our country, nor yet a jury that fear not an oath; I have therefore chosen another subject, which, being of the greatest moment, can never be unseasonable; even to proclaim him who is constituted the King and Judge of all, to acquaint you with his pleasure, and to demand your subjection.
The chief scope of the Psalm is, to foretel the extent and prevalency of the kingdom of Christ, admonishing his enemies to subunit to his government, deriding the vanity of their opposing projects and fury, and forewarning them of their ruin if they come not in.
The verses which I have read are the application of the foregoing prediction, by a serious admonition to the proudest offenders : they contain, 1. The persons admonished, “kings and judges.” 2. Their duty: 1. In general to God, “serve him ;” with the adjuncts annexed : 1. Rejoicing. 2. Fear and trembling. 2. More especially their duty to the Son, “kiss him.” 3. The motives to this duty. 1. Principally and directly expressed, “ lest he be angry,” which anger is set forth by the effect," and ye perish;" which perishing is aggravated, 1. From the suddenness and unexpectedness, “ in the way.” 2. From the dreadfulness, “ kindled.” 1. It is fire, and will kindle and burn. 2. A little of it will produce this sad effect. 3. It will be wo to those that do not escape it ; which wo is set forth by the contrary happiness of those that by submission do escape. 2. The motives subservient and implied are in the monitory words, “ be wise, be learned," q. d. else you will show and prove yourselves men of ignorance and madness, unlearned and unwise.
Some questions here we should answer for explication of the terms: as,
1. Whether the Lord in verse 11, and the Son in verse 12, be both meant of Christ the Second Person ?
2. Whether the anger here mentioned be the anger of the Father or the Son, “lest he be angry?” I might spend much time here to little purpose, in showing you the different judgment of divines of these, when in the issue there is no great difference, which ever way we take them.
3. What is meant by “kissing the Son?" I answer, according to its threefold object, it hath a threefold duty contained in it.
1. We kiss the feet in token of subjection; so must we kiss the Son.
2. We kiss the hand in token of dependence; so must we kiss the hand of Christ; that is, resign ourselves to him, and expect all our happiness and receivings from him.
3. We kiss the mouth in token of love and friendship; and so also must we kiss the Son.
4. What is meant by “perishing in the way?" I answer, (omitting the variety of interpretations,) it is their sudden unexpected perishing in the heat of their rage, and in pursuit of their designs against the kingdom of Christ.
I know no other terms of any great difficulty here.
Many observations might be hence raised : as,
1. Serving the Lord is the great work and business that the world hath to do.
2. This service should be accompanied with rejoicing. 3. So should it also with fear and trembling.
4. There is no such opposition between spiritual joy and fear, but that they may and must consist together,
5. Scripture useth familiar expressions concerning man's communion with Christ, such as this, “ kiss the Son."
6. There is anger in God, or that which we cannot conceive better of than under the notion of anger.
7. There is a way to kindle this anger; it is man that kindleth it.
8. The way to kindle it chiefly is not kissing the Son. 9. The kindling of it will be the perishing of the sinner.
10. The enemies of Christ shall perish suddenly and unexpectedly.
11. A little of God's anger will utterly undo them.
12. They are blessed men that escape it, and miserable that must feel it.
13. It is therefore notorious folly to neglect Christ, and stand out.
14. Kings, judges, and rulers of the earth, are the first men that Christ summons in, and the chief in the calamity if they stand out.
But I will draw the scope of the text, into this one doctrine; in the handling whereof I shall spend the time allotted
Doct. No power or privilege can save that man from the fearful, sudden, consuming wrath of God, that doth not unfeignedly love, depend upon, and subject himself unto the Lord Jesus Christ.
If they be the greatest kings and judges, yet if they do not kiss the mouth, the hand, the feet of Christ, his wrath will be kindled, and they will perish in the way of their rebellion and neglect.
In handling this point I shall observe this order.
1. I will show you what this love, dependence, and subjection are.
2. What wrath it is that will thus kindle and consume them. 3. Why this kissing the Son is the only way to escape it. 4. Why no power or privilege else can procure their escape,
5. The application.
For the first I shall only give you a naked description, wishing that I had time for a fuller explication.
1. Subjection to Christ is, the acknowledging of his absolute sovereignty, both as he is God, Creator, and as Redeemer over all the world, and particularly ourselves; and a hearty consent to this his sovereignty; especially that he be our Lord, and his laws our rule, and a delivering up ourselves to him to be governed accordingly.
2. This dependence on Christ is, when acknowledging the sufficiency of his satisfaction, and his power and willingness to save all that receive him, manifested in his free universal offer in the gospel, we do heartily accept him for our only Saviour, and accordingly, renouncing all other, do wait upon him believingly for the benefits of his sufferings and office, and the performance of his faithful covenant to us, in restoring us to all the blessings which we lost, and advancing us to a far greater everlasting glory.
3. This affection to Christ is, when in the knowledge and sense of his love to us, both common and especial, and of his own excellency, and the blessedness of enjoying him, and the Father and Life by him, our hearts do choose him, and the Father by him as the only happiness, and accordingly love him above all things in the world.
As this threefold description containeth the sum of the gospel, so hath it nothing but what is of necessity to sound Christianity. If any one of these three be not found in thy heart, either have I little skill in divinity, or thou hast no true Christianity, nor canst be saved in that condition.
Object. But do not the Scriptures make believing the condition of the covenant? But here is a great deal more than believing
Ans. Sometimes faith is taken in a narrower sense, and then it is not made the sole condition of the new covenant; but repentance, and forgiving others, are joined with it as conditions of our forgiveness; and obedience and perseverance, as conditions of our continued justification and salvation. But when faith is made the sole condition of the covenant, then it comprehendeth essentially, (not only supposeth as precedent or concomitant,) if not all three, yet at least the two first of the afore described qualifications ; viz., dependence and subjection, which, if it were well understood, would much free the common