صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

you low-minded neither, to glue your hearts, to bend your affections to things below. Let them make you heavenlyminded, and then they will make you humbly-minded. The more of heaven in any mind, the more of humility.

"Not to trust in riches," not to let his gifts be used to his own degrading. Who would trust in an unstable thing, which he cannot keep? Riches are uncertain."-In a false thing which he cannot credit? Riches are deceitful.-In a nothing which is not? He that trusts in riches, makes them an idol, and "an idol is nothing in the world."-Who would trust in a dead idol, that hath a living God to trust in? Who would trust in a useless nothing, who hath a bountiful God who gives all things, to trust in?

[ocr errors]

You have another charge, " To do good, to be rich in good works;" to do them cheerfully, to do them diffusively. And though God might stop at the charge, his sovereignty and dominion would bear him out, to command you only; yet being full of love and mercy, he is pleased to encourage as well as command you. He encourageth you ' antecedenter,' by that which goes before your duty, his own example ;—he encourageth you consequenter,' by that which follows after your duty, his great reward. His example you have; he gives, you do but lend; he gives, you do but render back to him of his own. He gives to you "all things;" the earth empties into your coffers her silver and her gold: the pastures send you in cattle; the fields, corn; the sea, fish; the air, fowl; one country sends you in wine, and another, spices; one, silks,—and another, furs; one, delicates,-another, ornaments. He gives you the light of the sun, the influences of the stars, the protection of angels, the righteousness of his Son, the grace of his Spirit, the hope of his glory. He gives you himself, and his own allsufficiency for your portion. And now, if heaven and earth be all, if grace and glory be all, if God and Christ be all; he hath given you "all things richly to enjoy:" for many of these gifts bring their joy and fruition with them. So the example far exceeds the imitation: you lend, you do not give; you lend something, you do not give all things: you lend to the necessities of your brother, you do not give to his delights and

[blocks in formation]

replenishment: you clothe him, you do not adorn him: you feed him, you do not fill him, much less pamper him. This is one encouragement, a great example.'

You have another encouragement, A full reward,' good measure, shaken together, pressed down, running over into your bosoms. You give money, God gives life: you, things uncertain, which you could not keep, but by giving; God gives a foundation, mansions, a city which hath foundations, "the sure mercies of David." You lay out to your brother; God lays up for you: you give perishing things to your brother; God, an abiding, an abounding life to you: you, a cottage, or a coat to your brother; God, a kingdom and a crown to you: you, such things to your brother, which neither you nor he can keep; God, such things to you, which when once laid hold on, you cannot lose.

So this double encouragement sets on the duty by a threefold love: If you love God,-imitate his example, be merciful as he is merciful. If you love your brother, -refresh his bowels, make his back and belly your repositories. He can repay you with prayers; and prayers are as good as gold. If you love yourselves,-do what the most covetous man would do, lay up, lay up for yourselves, not only for your heirs, your children,-it may be, for strangers, for enemies. Lay up, surely, that which you may lay hold on, that which will stay by you, a foundation. Lay up for the future, that which time, which death, which rust, moth, thief, cannot take away; for life, which is more worth than wealth; for eternal life, which is more durable than wealth. If you do not thus by your wealth, lay up a foundation unto eternal life; your thick clay will load you with many sorrows, and drown you in destruction and perdition. You have your wealth for this end; you have your life and salvation with this homage, and quit-rent upon it. If you do not give, you shall not live: if you do not do good, you shall not receive good: if you do not lay out, you shall not lay up. Here is your option;keep your money, and perish with it; return it unto heaven, and be gainers by it. If you love God, or your neighbour, or yourselves, or your very riches themselves, -do good, be rich in good works; you do not only comfort your brother, but you keep your God: you save yourselves; you lengthen your lives; you preserve your estates unto all eternity.

GOD'S FIDELITY,

THE

CHURCH'S SAFETY.

Opened in a SERMON preached before the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common. Council, at St. Lawrence-Jury Church, upon a day of Humiliation by them appointed.

EZRA IX. 15.

O Lord God of Israel, thou art righteous; for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day. Behold, we are before thee in our trespasses; for we cannot stand before thee, because of it.

In the former part of this paper, we have a narration of many great mercies of God to his people, after their long and sore captivity.

1. The edict of Cyrus for return of the people, building the temple, restoring of the holy vessels; Chap. i.

2. The pursuance of that edict, in the return of 49,000 and upward; Chap. ii.

3. The beginning of the restitution of God's worship, setting up the altar, offering sacrifices, laying the foundations. of the house with trumpets and joy; Chap. iii.

4. The special assistance and encouragement they received in the work by the prophets, notwithstanding the opposition of the adversaries; Chap. v. 1, 6, 14.

5. The gracious decree of Darius for promoting the building, after it had been obstructed; his princely munificence thereunto; the command given to the enemies to be serviceable to the work; the finishing and dedication of the house, and keeping of the passover; Chap. vi.

6. The gracious commission of Artaxerxes to Ezra, for further promoting the worship of God at Jerusalem; his indulgence to priests and Levites, ordering of magistrates and judges; Chap. vii.

7. The expedition of Ezra, and divers others, with this commission; the delivery of the silver, gold, and vessels which the king, his counsellors, lords, and all Israel, had offered to the house of the Lord, into the hands of twelve select men of the priests: the gracious preservation of Ezra and his company in their journey, from the hands of those that lay in wait for them, after they had solemnly sought God by prayer and fasting; their safe arrival; delivery of the offering to the House of the Lord; success of the commission; Chap. viii.

Thus far things went comfortably on, and with good success, notwithstanding the opposition and obstruction given to the work for a time, by the enemies thereof, of which we read, Chap. iv.

But in this ninth chapter, we meet with a far more dangerous obstruction, than any had before been; a horrible sin committed by priests, levites, people, wherein the hands of the princes and rulers had been chief, in mingling the holy seed in marriage with the people of those lands, contrary to an express command, Deut. vii. 1, 3 "Thou shalt not make marriages with them," &c. Whereby the worship of God, now newly restored, was in danger to be speedily subverted again, (Deut. vii. 4. Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16) as we find by the example of Solomon. (1 Kings xi. 4, 8) Hereupon Ezra is affected with zeal, sorrow, and astonishment, verse 3, 4, 5: And "unto him were assembled every one that trembled at the word of the God of Israel, to humble" themselves before God; and to consult what, in so desperate a case, was necessary to be done for diverting that wrath which they had provoked; verse 3, 4. Ezra prepareth and composeth himself in a solemn manner to pray; rends his garments; falls on his knees; spreads forth his hands; stirs up his faith; takes the fittest season, the time of the sacrifice,' when God might be minded, by the blood of atonement, to receive his prayer with favour; verse 5.

[ocr errors]

• Vid. Serarium in Josh. 6. quæst. 50.-Pined. de Rebus Solom. lib. 7. cap. 4. et 6.

In the prayer we have these particulars;

[ocr errors]

1. His abasement of himself, his shame, and consternation of spirit, a temper essential to true humiliation: "I will remember my covenant," saith the Lord; " and thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed." (Ezek. xvi. 60, 61) And again, "you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed." (Ezek. xx. 43)

2. A general confession of their sins, and the sins of their fathers; (as Nehem. ix. 34. Dan. ix. 8) the greatness, the growth, the continuance of them; "our iniquities are increased over our heads;" (as Psalm xxxviii. 4) a metaphor from the swelling of waters. (Psalm exxiv. 4, 5) Our trespasses are grown up to heaven;" a further and stronger expression of the authority of them, (as 2 Chron. xxviii. 9)

[ocr errors]

b

3. An acknowledgment of the justice of God in the punishment of their iniquities, on kings, priests, and people, in captivity, poverty, and contempt, (verse 7, as Psal. xliv. 9-14, and lxxix. 1-4)

[ocr errors]

6

4. A thankful acknowledgment of restored mercies out of free and rich grace, unto a small remnant of distressed bondmen, whom God had not forsaken in their bondage," but extended mercy unto; who were, 1. escaped out of their captivity. 2. Settled in their own land, as a nail in a sure place.' (as Isa. xxii. 23) 3. Comforted after their darkness and sorrow, by lightning their eyes,' who had been long in Babylon as in a dungeon; (Zech. ix. 11) by reviving and giving them a resurrection, who had lain in captivity as dry bones in a grave.' (Ezek. xxxvii. 12) 4. Aided and assisted by the special favour of the king of Persia, to set up the house of God, and repair the desolations thereof.' (verse 9) 5. Compassed about with his protection, as with a wall, from the violence of enemies; (verse 8, 9, as Isa. xxvi. 1. Zech. ii. 5) by all which considerations, the greatness of their sins was exceedingly aggravated.

[ocr errors]

5. A particular confession of the present sin, under the guilt whereof they did now lie.

Wherein are considerable.

(1.) A pathetical acknowledgment that they are wholly

■ Jer. iii. 5, et xxxi. 19. Dan. ix. 7, 8. Luke xviii. 13.

b 'Ως δ ̓ ὅτε χει· μαῤῥοι ποταμοὶ, κατ' ὄρεσφι ρέοντες, Ές μισγάγκειαν συμβάλλετον ὤδριμοι· ε we, Homer. Iliad. 1. 152.

« السابقةمتابعة »