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or profaneness, do play the wantons with such a benefit, and abuse it, to the rending and causing of breaches in the church of Christ.
2. Look to the sore plagues, which have heretofore reigned in this place, emptying the city of all that could fly, and sending armies of those that remained weekly to the grave. The city is probably now much more populous, many thousands of houses being since that time newly erected, and few either of the old or new without inhabitants; yet, for these many years, this raging disease hath been banished from this place, when probably it might have been a double judgement unto you; and you have that blessing which the Lord promised Jerusalem, (Zech. viii. 5) made good unto you, "The streets of the city full of boys and girls, playing in those streets," where, in the days of pestilence, grass grew for emptiness and desolation.
3. Look on the late bloody wars, when the Lord poured out on the nation the strength of battle, and set it on fire round about, Ephraim Manasseh, and Manasseh Ephraim; when the people were as the fuel of the fire: you here heard not the prancing of the horses, nor the rattling of the wheels; you saw not the glittering of the swords, nor the displaying of the banners; you were not witnesses of the confusions, which other places saw and felt: Your houses were not shaken with the roaring of the cannon, nor your wives made widows, or your children orphans by the edge of the sword: your city was then like the top of the hill at Rephidim, where Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses; no hands lifted up here to fight, but only to pray; no siege here, but that about the throne of grace, " ut ad Deum, quasi manu factâ, precationibus ambiamus' orantes;" no warring or wrestling here but that of Jacob with the angel. This city was, as it were, the chapel, the oratory of the nation.
4. Look back on the late heavy blows by fire in this city; that sad and sudden blast by gunpowder in Tower-street, whereby divers persons perished; those dangerous fires afterwards in other places, unto which the Lord could have given a commission to have spread and diffused itself into a universal conflagration; the merciful rebuke which was upon
the fire then, and the safety you have since enjoyed from such dangers. And truly when I consider how many trades there are in this city which deal in combustible matters, as gunpowder, flax, hemp, pitch, tar, turpentine, hops, tallow, paper, oil, and many other like; the casualties and carelessness which may be in many amongst so great a multitude, by knocking of links, by misplacing of candles, by falling down or sparkling of fire, by blowing out of tobacco, and other miscarriages not easily enumerable; it is an evident demonstration of God's watching over such a city, and being himself a wall of fire about it, and giving his ministers, who are a flame of fire, a special charge over it, that other fires do not break out in it.
5. Consider the goodness of God to this city, in giving it zealous and faithful magistrates, who make it their business to be vigilant over the good of this place; who lay next their hearts the prosperity thereof, to encourage virtue, to punish and suppress wickedness, to preserve peace, to prevent profaneness, to look to the health and good order of the place.
6. Consider the goodness of God unto you in a learned. and faithful ministry; what endeavours some have used to cry them down, and to leave this nation as sheep without shepherds; the copious and abundant light of the gospel which shineth on this place, this city being "filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." If any city in the world may at this day be called, as Jerusalem once was, "a city of truth, a holy mountain," in regard, I mean, of the doctrine of truth and holiness preached therein,-then certainly this may. Insomuch that foreigners, Hungarians, Germans, Batavians, others learn our language, and come over to this city, that they may hear your preachers, and read your English divines.
In one word, look unto the concurrence with all countries at home, all foreign nations abroad to join in, to send variety of blessings and comforts unto this city. As the beams of the sun are united in a burning-glass, so a variety of blessings meets from a wide circumference in such a centre as this. The sea sends you in fish, and the air fowl, the fields. corn, and the pastures cattle. Some countries adorn you with silks and jewels; some warm you with furs and cottons; some heal you with drugs and balsams; others com
fort and refresh you with wines and spices; some send in materials to build your houses; others send you in furniture for your ships. Read Ezek. xxvii. and that will shew you the benefits of a celebre emporium.'
And when you have viewed these mercies, look on the many and prodigious sins whereby the Lord is provoked in this place to withdraw these mercies from it. Sins are made the more atrocious by the mercies and light, they are committed. (John xv. 22. Amos iii. 2)
Now, then, as the Lord hath put into your hearts to consecrate this day unto his praise, and to stir up one another 'to speak good of his name,' be pleased to set yourselves seriously about it. Consider, it is not the work of the lips alone, though it consist much in uttering the loving kindness, and in singing aloud of the goodness of the Lord. Remember what David, that great artist in divine praises, did, Psalm ciii. 1: He calls upon his soul, and upon all that was within him, to bless God's holy name. Our minds should bless him by meditation on his goodness, and admiration of his mercy; our heads should study and contrive what to do, to bring honour unto the name of so great a God; our hearts, wills, and affections, should resolve to take the cup of salvation, to call upon his name, to love the Lord because he bath heard our supplication; (Psalm cxvi. 1) to fear the Lord and his goodness; (Hos. iii. 5) considering how great things he hath done for us. (1 Sam. xii. 24) Our mouths should make report what he hath done for our souls, for our families, for our cities, for our people. Our hands should praise the Lord, by rendering back out of his own blessings (for of his own only do we give him, 1 Chron. xxix. 14) some homage and acknowledgement that we hold all from him. We read of the Lord's offering, Exod. xxxv. 21, and of the Lord's tribute, Num. xxxi. 28. Lev. v. 15. The ancients called them Tà xugiaxà, 'things belonging unto the Lord.' It is true, "our goodness extendeth not unto him;" a man cannot be profitable unto God; yet we must obey him, though we cannot do him good. First, therefore, let us give ourselves unto him, and, by a solemn covenant, become the Lord's people; (2 Chron. xxiii. 16. 2 Cor. viii. 5) resolving, as a purchased people, to live to him, and not unto ourselves; (Rom. xiv. 7, 8) and when we have given our
selves to God, we shall more readily give him whatever else he requireth; for every thing else will follow a man's self. Let us therefore labour for large hearts towards God, to be "rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate." No riches are durable, but those that are consecrated unto God. (Isa. xxiii. 18) Manna in the house had worms; manna in the tabernacle endured. Rust seizeth on metal that lies still keep it in motion, and it never rusteth. "There is a scattering," Solomon saith, "which tendeth to increase." (Prov. xi. 24) "He hath dispersed," saith the psalmist," he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour." (Psalm exii. 9) Men will buy great honour at a dear rate. (Acts xxii. 28) Here alms-deeds, which use not be very great sums, exalt a man unto honour. Riches take wings; righteousness only endureth. Our glory will not go after us; we shall carry none of our wealth with us; (Psalm xlix. 17) but our works will follow us into another world. (Rev. xiv. 13) When you trade unto other nations, you cannot transport there money and treasure; but if you turn them into other commodities, then you may transport to another country: so our silver and gold we cannot carry to heaven with us; but turn them into good works, and they will fol low you as far as heaven. In trading, I suppose, you esteem it a very fair return, if you get one in five; but, in sowing, you part with one, and haply reap ten in the harvest and to be sure when the sowing is on earth, and the reaping in heaven, we shall have a better return than Isaac had, who reaped a hundred fold. (Gen. xxvi. 12) As sanctuary-measure was double to other measures, so sanctuary-returns are double, centuple to other returns.
Ask then your souls the question, "What shall I render unto the Lord?" what shall I do for so good a God? I have my life, my comforts, my soul, my heaven, from him; what shall I do for his name?-Remember you have the truth of God, a precious depositum, which Solomon bids us buy and not sell. (Prov. xxiii. 23) Countenance it, propagate it, as you are able. Hypocrites will be at great charges for a false way to heaven; "thousands of rams, rivers of oil." (Mic. vi. 7, 8) Be ye ready with heart and hand to further the
truth. You have it; many places want it; there are places where two, three, four towns belong to one parish; where the maintenance of the gospel is not twenty pounds a-year; many a soul may go to hell in such places, for want of the gospel. Many haply of you are risen to great estates, who may remember such famished congregations in the countries where you were born. O then, if you have seen and tasted how good the Lord is to your souls, endeavour to snatch others out of the fire, that they may taste of God's goodness too! Haply it may lie in your way and power to stir up superiors, to take some course in so necessary a work as this. Shew yourselves valiant for the truth; study what may be done to preserve it, and to remove that deluge of errors which would plunder you of it. Remember David, Josiah, Nehemiah, what they did for the house of God, and the officers thereof. You have the messengers and ambassadors of Christ; remember what Hezekiah did; "He spake comfortably to those who taught the good knowledge of the Lord." (2 Chron. xxx. 22) Remember what yourselves in this city have been famous for, in this business of encouraging your faithful ministers; and as the Lord, speaking of the distress of Jerusalem, which should have no parallel to liken it unto, said, "Ariel shall be as Ariel;" (Isa. xxix. 2) so let London, in this particular, be as London ;-continue to love, to countenance, to esteem "beautiful the feet of those that bring glad tidings of peace." Shew your honour to the Lord, by your love to his officers: it will be so much the more your crown and comfort, by how much the more they are reproached by others.
Lastly, You have the poor members of Christ amongst you. He, indeed, who was once poor, and was ministered unto himself, (Luke viii. 3) is now in glory: but he is cold, and hungry, and naked, and sick, and suffers in many of his members still. (Col. i. 24) Help them with your bounty, as Christians; help them with your orders and authority, as magistrates: where you can do neither, help them with your prayers, with your comforts, as fellow members: "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep." Remember, "None of us lives to himself, none of us dies to himself;" we are "the Lord's workmanship, created in