« السابقةمتابعة »
neither did they say, Where is the Lord that brought us out of Egypt? (Psalm lxxviii. 11, 42, 43. Psalm cvi. 14, 21, 22. Jer. ii. 6)
Secondly, The ardent zeal of the psalmist, to have God receive his due. The duller men's hearts are, the more importunity should God's messengers use to draw them unto duty. "When the iron is blunt, we must put to the more strength." (Eccles. x. 10) Hence those frequent iterations. in scripture, to awaken men out of their dulness,-"Samuel, Samuel;" "Saul, Saul ;" "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord." (Jer. xxii. 29) "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isai. xxviii. 13) It is called 'whetting of the law,' with stroke upon stroke, often and earnest inculcating of it; (Deut. vi. 7) fastening of nails,' with blow upon blow. (Eccles. xii. 11) One threatening will not awaken stubborn sinners; we have seven upon seven. (Lev. xxvi. 18, 21, 24, 28) One curse will not startle the heart of a proud Pharisee; they must have woe upon woe. (Matth. xxiii. 1329) When the psalmist hath recounted various mercies, he doth rather wish and persuade, than expect a return of praise, and that with a quadruple ingemination, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." (Psalm cvii. 8, 15, 21, 31)
Thirdly, The great necessity of this duty; when the Lord calleth for one thing, we must needs conclude that it is 'unum necessarium,' one very necessary thing. The Hebrew expression of a superlative, is by doubling the word, "good, good;" that is, "exceeding good :"-" Holy, holy, holy," that is, "most exceeding holy." Thou shalt follow "justice, justice," that is, thou shalt be "most just." So here
praise, praise," seems to note a more than ordinary excellency and necessity in this duty.
Fourthly, The manner and measure how this duty is to be performed, "Again, again;" with redoubled affections. There is no affection more copious and multiplying than that of joy. (Phil. iv. 4) It enlargeth and expandeth the heart; it breaketh out into serenity of countenance, into fluency of expressions, into active and vigorous gestures, as David's, into leaping and dancing before the ark. If we look into all the scriptures, we shall seldom find so frequent and emphati
cal ingeminations, as in this of praising God. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the Gods? Who is like thee? glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Erod. xv. 11) "Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song; arise, Barak," &c. (Judges v. 12) "Bless the Lord, O my soul; all that is within me, bless his holy name: bless the Lord, O my soul; bless the Lord, ye his angels; bless the Lord, ye his hosts; bless the Lord, all his works; bless the Lord, O my soul." (Psalm ciii. 1, 2, 20, 21, 22) In the last psalm, containing but six verses, we are called upon thirteen times to praise the Lord. Jewels are made of divers precious stones couched together: praise is a jewel, a comely, a beautiful thing; (Psalm xxxiii. 1) and we find one of these jewels is made up of no fewer than six and twenty ingeminations. (Psalm cxxxvi) Praise him for his greatness, he is Praise him for his goodness, he is
thy God.' If a man shew me a precious and stately thing, I shall be thankful out of curiosity, as for a favour: but if he shew it, and then give it, I shall be a thousand times thankful, as for a rare bounty. Great and good, and mine: nothing will move thankfulness, if excellency and property will
The greatness of his power mine to keep me; the greatness of his wisdom mine to counsel me; the greatness of his grace mine to sanctify me; the greatness of his glory mine to save me ;-who should be thankful, if not they who want nothing? And who can be said to want any thing who have God for their God? "The Lord," saith David, "is my shepherd; I shall not want." (Psalm xxiii. 1)
Of this excellent doctrine, I shall make these two uses, and then speak a little to the present occasion, and so conclude.
First, We should learn from hence to bewail our long and great unthankfulness under as many and wonderful mercies, as scarce any nation under heaven is able to parallel. Unthankfulness is, not setting so high a price as we ought upon a good land, quiet habitations, fair estates, peaceable borders, flourishing fields, abundance of men, cattle, wealth, trade, strength, and all other good things. Unthankfulness for that which the apostle calleth the riches of the world,' and the salvation of the Gentiles ;' (Rom. xi. 11, 12) for the oracles of God, the ark of his presence, the glorious light of
his gospel, and powerful means of grace and salvation, in abundance of which, I know not whether any countries on earth can outvie and surpass this of ours. Unthankfulness (which is worse) in abusing mercies, waxing fat by them, and then kicking against the author of them; filling ourselves in our pastures, and then forgetting God; making them rather the fuel of our lusts against him, than the arguments of our love unto him; turning peace into security, and plenty into excess, and grace into lasciviousness, and pardoning mercy into presumption of sinning; multitudes making little. other use of the gospel than that which the gospel doth abominate, to "continue in sin, that grace may abound ;" to drink poison the more freely, because they have an antidote by them;-nay, which is yet more prodigious, not using nor improving mercies when we were in danger to lose them, when war and desolation should have taught us to value them; to weep, and bleed, and languish, and have grey hairs upon us, to be set on fire round about P, and even then to lay nothing to heart, nor to return to the Lord, nor seek him for all that; to cement our souls and our lusts together with mortar tempered with our own blood and tears, to be wanton and dally with mercies, when they were ready to depart from us; and now when there is respite, and the Lord hath given us a little reviving, and put the sword into the scabbard; to become thereupon like Agag, proud and delicate, because the bitterness of death seemeth to be past; to abuse outward and inward liberty, not only with sensual excess and luxury, but with prodigies of wild and wanton errors, with a civil war of doctrines, as before of blood;-this is an aggravation of unthankfulness, than which I know not whether there can be a higher given. The not using a mercy, is to be unthankful for it: how much more sad account must men give of abused mercies? of requiting the goodness of the Lord with forsaking of him; the culture and husbandry, the rain and dew which he hath bestowed upon them, with thorns and briars? (Deut. xxxii. 6. Luke xiii. 7. Heb. vi. 7) As the greater heat of the sun doth more speedily ripen fruit, so do great mercies hasten the maturity of sin, and make
• Hos. vii. 9, 10. ix. 8.
P Isai, xlii. 25.
b Jer. xlvii. 6.
q Exod. viii. 15. c 1 Sam. xv. 32.
them as the rod of an almond tree, which blossometh before other trees; (Jer. i. 11) or as a basket of summer fruit, which is quickly ripe. (Amos viii. 1) It is a swinish thing at the same time to feed on blessings, and to trample them under foot; to live upon them, and yet to defile and despise them.
Secondly, We should be exhorted unto the careful practice of this excellent duty. I shall not go out of the text for motives hereunto.
1. He hath "strengthened the bars of our gates :" we are not by the power or machinations of enemies devoured or dissolved; we have yet the face of a potent nation, notwithstanding the devices of any to dissipate our laws, or to reduce us to confusion.
2. He hath" blessed our children within us :" though the sword hath devoured thousands, and might justly have swallowed the blood of many more, should the Lord have dealt with us according to our provocations; yet our streets, our fields, our cities, our churches are still full, old men with their staves, little children playing in the streets, with as much security as before.
3. He hath given "peace in our borders." When Ephraim was against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim, no man spared his brother, when the land did eat the flesh of its own arms, when the strength of battle was poured out in every corner, as if the Lord would have consumed us all at once; then was he pleased to try us once again with the keeping of so rich a jewel as peace. And when thereafter he raised up against us new enemies and troubles by sea, whereby trade was obstructed, treasure exhausted, protestant religion in danger to be weakened, and unhappy hostilities like to have continued amongst neighbour-nations, which had been before confederate and in amity; this evil likewise the Lord put a stop unto, and made the sea, which wrought and was tempestuous, quiet and calm again; and thus hath confirmed peace in our borders, and abated the hopes which the enemies of the reformed religion had entertained upon those unhappy differences.
4. He hath" fed us with the fat and marrow of the wheat," crowned the year with his goodness; the fields and the pastures sing; he hath sent a plentiful rain, and refreshed the earth; the fields, and the clouds, and the sun, have been
confederate and at an agreement to empty the blessings, wherewith God hath filled them, into our bosom, according to those gracious promises, Hos. ii. 21, 22. Zech. viii. 12.
5. He suffereth us yet to call him our God:" he is still in the midst of us; we have yet the custody of his oracles, and liberty of his worship; he hath not yet given us a bill of divorce, nor cast us out of his sight, as our sins have deserved. What great reason have we to ingeminate praises, when the Lord is pleased to multiply mercies! Who would ever mistrust such a God, who can so powerfully and so suddenly help! Who would ever provoke such a God, who can as easily and as speedily destroy! Who would trust in bars and gates, in castles and armies, in ships and navies, and leave him out who is the strength of them all! Who would not trust in him who is a God near, and a God afar off, a God in the gate, in the city, in the field, in the border, on the land, on the sea, whose way is in the sanctuary, and his path in the great waters? "Who would not fear thee, O king of nations, and glorify thy name? for unto thee it doth appertain, who alone art glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders."
I shall conclude all with a few words unto you, the officers and representatives of this great city, into whose hearts the Lord hath put so worthy and pious a resolution as to appoint this day, in the which to recount his mercies, and to speak good of his name. And albeit yourselves, who are best acquainted with the state of the city, and God's dealings therewith, can more abundantly present to your own thoughts, variety of particulars of divine goodness, than I, who am but a stranger, can,-yet give me leave to be your remembrancer in these few.
1. Be pleased to look back on those bloody Marian days, when the streets of this city were defiled with the blood of Martyrs; when the blessed members of Christ were drawn from coal-houses and prisons to stakes and flames; and consider the indefatigable and crafty endeavours which have been, from time to time, by that party used (and no doubt they are as unwearied now as ever, though haply they are under new shapes and disguises) to reduce us back again. And consider the purity of Evangelical doctrine and worship, and the great liberty you now enjoy therein. The Lord pardon, pity, and rebuke those, who, either through ignorance