Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Now, in the second place, for Us of the Holy Tribe, we are stars too : and if not Stars, Rev. i. 16; yet Candles, Matt. v. 15: how.' ever; Lights we must be; and that, both in life and doctrine. If the, First, there are stars of several magnitudes: some, goodly, and great ones, that move in orbs of their own; others, small and scarce visible in the galaxy of the Church : but all are stars, and no star is without some light. If but the Second ; there are large tapers and rush-candles : one gives a greater light than the other, but all give some. Never let them go for either stars' or candles, that neither have nor give light. And, woe is me! if the Light, that is in us, be darkness; how great, how dangerous is that darkness! Blessed be God, we have a learned, able, and flourishing Clergy, as ever this Church had ; or, I think I may boldly say, any other, since the Gospel looked forth into the world. There have not been clearer lamps in God's Sanctuary, since their first lighting, than our days have seen. Yet, why should we stick to confess that, which can neither be concealed nor denied, that there are some amongst so many, whose wick is too much for their oil; yea, rather, whose snuff is more than their light: I mean, whose offensive lives shame their holy doctrines, and reproach the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These, as we lament, so we desire to have topped by just censures. But hear you, my Worthy Brethren: do not you, where you see a thief in the candle, call presently for an extinguisher: for personal faults, do not you condemn a holy calling. Oh, be you wisely charitable; and let us be ex. emplarily holy.

Lastly, for you Christian Hearers: think not, that this light may be put off to public and eminent persons only. Each of you must shine too, at the least tanquam faces, Phil. ii. 15. If they be as cities up a hill, the meanest of you must be as cottages in a valley; though not high-built, yet wind-tight and water-tight. If they be beacons, you must be lanterns. Every one must, both have a light of his own, and impart it to others. It is not a charge appropriated to public teachers, that the Apostle gives to his Hebrews, Exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ; Heb. ii. 13. Even the privatest person may shine forth in good counsel. He, that is most obscure, may and must do good works in his place, and improve his graces to others' good. These, these, my Beloved, are the Light, which we must both have and give. Not to have, were to have no fellowship with God: to have and not to give it, were to engross and monopolize grace; which God cannot abide. Hath any of you Knowledge ? let him communicate it, and light others' candle at his. Hath any man worldly Riches? let him not be Condus, but Promus; To do good and distribute, forget not. Hath any man Zeal? Zeal, I say, not fury, not frenzy: let him not glow only, but shine : let him say, with Jehu, Come, see my Zeal for the Lord. Hath any man true Piety and Devotion! let him, like a fiaming brand, enkindle the next. Thus, thus shall we approve ourselves the sons of that Infinite and Communiz cative Light. Thus shall wė so have fellowship with the God, who is Light; that, shining like him and from him here in grace, we may shine with him hereafter above in everlasting glory : which the sámé God grant to us, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Righteous : To whom, with Thee, O God the Father, and Thy Blessed Spirit, One Infinite and Incomprehensible Lord, be given all praise, honour, and glory, nów and for ever. Amen.

SERMON XXXIII.

THE MISCHIEF OF FACTION, AND THE

REMEDY OF IT. LAID FORTH IN A SERMON BEFORE HIS MAJESTY, IN THE COURT-YARD

AT WHITEHALL, ON THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT, 1641.

BY JOSEPH EXON.

PSALM IX. 2. Thou hast made the earth to tremble ; thou hast broken it: heal the

breaches thereof, for it shaketh.

My Text is a complaint; and a suit: a complaint of an evil; and a suit for a remedy: an evil deplored; and an implored redress.

The evil complained of is double: the concussion or unsettlement of the state of Israel; and the division of it. For, it hath been the manner of the prophets, when they would speak high, to express spiritual things by the height of natural allusions; fetched from those great bodies of heaven, sea, earth; the most conspicuous and noted pieces of God's Almighty Workmanship.

It were to no purpose to exemplify, where the instances are num berless. Open your Bibles where you will, in all the Sapiential or Prophetical books, your eyes cannot look beside them.

And thus it is here. I suppose no man can be so weak, as to think David intends here a philosophical history of earthquakes; although these dreadful events, in their due times and places, are worthy of no less than a prophet's, either notice or admiration, But here, it is not in his way. It is an analogical, moral, or political earthquake, that David here speaks of: and so our usual and ancient Psalter Translation takes it well; while, for you, the Earth, it reads the Land, by a just synecdoche; and, for inaking the Earth to tremble, reads moving the Land; and, for broken, reads divided ; and, for breaches, sores : so as, by comparing of both translations, the Earth is the Land; the tremblings are the violent motions of it, whether by way of action or passion; the divisions thereof are breaches; and those breaches, sores; which the hand of God doth makes and heals. · Shortly, then, here is, first, An EARTHQUAKE, such as it is: se

condly, The EFFECTS of that Earthquake; breaches, or sores: thirdly, The AUTHOR of both; Thou hast made the Earth to tremblè; thou hast broken it: fourthly, The REMEDY of both: with the Author of it; Heal thou the sores, or breaches; and, lastly, the Motive of the remedy; for it shaketh.

The Text falls into these parts so naturally, that there is none of you, who hear me this day, but were able to divide it for nie: which I shall desire to follow, with all perspicuous brevity, and pro fitable enforcement.

I. And, first; hear and consider, that the motions of the distempers or public calamities of states, are EARTHQUAKES; either, or both: for this earthquake is either out of a fear or sense of judgment, or out of the strife of contrary affections; the one we may call a Passive, the other an Active earthquake.

1. Earthquakes, we know, are strange and unnatural things, There is no part of all God's great creation save the earth, that is ordained for rest and stability. The waters are in perpetual agitation of flux and refluxes: even when no wind stirs, they have their neap and spring tides. The air cannot stand still, while the heavens whirl about. The heavens, or any part of them, never stood still, but once, since they were made. But the earth was made for fisędness and stability. Hence ye find so oft mention of the foundations of the earth: and the stile of it is, nescia moveri, The earth that cannot be moved; and, that stands fast for ever. And, therefore, for the earth to move, it is no less prodigy, than for the heavens to stand still.

Neither is it more rare, than formidable. If we should see the heavens stand still but one hour, we should, as we well inight, expect a dissolution of all things: neither hath it less horror in it, to feel the earth stagger under us. Whose hair doth not start up at this trepidation? And, the more a man knows, the more is his astonishment. He hangeth the earth upon nothing ; saith Job; xxvi. 7. For a man to feel the earth, that hangs upon nothing, but as some vast ball in the midst of a thin yielding air, totter under him; how can his soul choose, but be possessed with a secret fright and confusion? Methinks, I tremble but to think of such a trembling.

Such are the distempers and public calamities of states, though even of particular kingdoms: but, so much more as they are more universal, they are both unnatural and dreadful. They are politicly unnatural: for, as the end of all motion is rest, so the end of all civil and spiritual agitations is peace and settledness. The very name of a State implies so much: which is, we know,' a stando; from standing, and not from moving. The man riding upon the red horse which stood among the myrtle trees; Zech. i. 11. de. scribes the condition of a peaceful government: Behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. And Micah, They shall sit still every man under his vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid ; Micah iv. 4. Particular men's affairs are like the clouds: public government is as the earth. The clouds are always in motion: it were strange for any of them to stand still in one point of the air; so it were to see pri

váte men's oecasións void of some movings of quarrels or change.. The public state is or should be as the earth, a great and solid body, whose chief praise is settledness and consistence. Now, therefore, when public stirs and tumults arise in a well ordered Church or Cominonwealth, the State is out of the socket: or, when common calamities of war, famine, pestilence seize upon it; then, the hearts of men quake and shiver within them; then, is our prophet's earthquake, which is here spoken of: Thou hast made the earth 10 tremble.

1. To begin with the PASSIVE MOTIONS, OF PUBLIC CALAMITIES: they are the shakings of our earth. So God intends them: so must we account them, and make use of them accordingly. What are we, I mean all the visible part of us, but a piece of earth? Besides, therefore, that magnetical virtue, which is operative upon all the parts of it, why should' or can a piece stand still, when the whole moveth?

Denominations are wont to be, not from the greater, but the better part; and the best part of this earthen world is man: and, therefore, when men are moved, we say the earth is so; and, when the earth in a generality is thus moved, good reason we should be so also. We must tremble, therefore, when God makes the earth to do so. What shall we say then to those obdured hearts, which are no whit affected with public evils ? Surely, he were a bold man, that could sleep, while the earth rocks him; and so were he, that could give hinself to a stupid security, when he feels any vehement concussations of government, or public hand of God's afflictive judgment. But it falls out too usually, that, as the philosopher said in matter of affairs, so it is in matter of calamities, Communia negliguntur. Men are like Jonas in the storm, sleep it out, though it mainly concern them: surely, besides that we are men, bound up each in his own skin, we are limbs of a community; and that body is no less entire and consistent of all his members, than this natural: and no less sensible should we be of any evil that afflicts it. If but the least toe do ache, the head feels it; but, if the whole body be in pain, much more do both head and feet feel it. Tell me, can it be, that, in a common earthquake, any house can be free; or, is the danger less, because the neighbours' roofs rattle also? Yet, too many men, because they suffer not alone, neither are singled out for vengeance, are insensible of God's hand: surely, such men, as cannot be shaken with God's judgment, are fit for the centre, the lowest parts of the earth, where there is a constant and eternal unrest; not for the surface of it, which looks towards a heaven, where are interchanges of good and evil..

It is notable and pregnant, which the prophet Isaiah hath: hear it, all ye secure hearts, and tremble. In that day did the Lord of Hosts call to weeping, and mourning, and baldness, and girding with sackcloth ; and, behold, joy and gladness, slaying of oxen, and killing of sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine. And what of that? Surely, this iniquity shall not be purged till you die, saith the Lord God of Hosts. What shall we say to this, Honourable and Beloved?

« PoprzedniaDalej »