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to take so much pains in reforming religion, (2 Chron. xxxiv. 1-7) to cause all the people to stand to a covenant, (ver. 22) to command and encourage the Priests in the work of the passover? (2 Chron. xxxv. 2) How came Nehemiah to seal a covenant, (Nehem. x. 1 to 8) enter into an oath to keep the sabbath and maintain religion, (ver. 29) to take care of the portions of the Levites, (Chap. xiii. 10) to threaten the violators of the sabbath, (ver. 21) to command the Levites to cleanse themselves, (ver. 22) to contend, and curse, and smite those that had married strange wives? (ver. 23, 30, 31) To say nothing of the laws and edicts of Christian Emperors, to restrain heresies and idolatry; of which we read in St Austin. Was it zeal and duty in these men to take care of religion, and to purge corruption out of the church, and is it not so now? Was it a fault in the church of Thyatira, to suffer Jezebel to teach and seduce unto idolatry; (Rev. ii. 20) and is it holiness now, to leave all men free to write, proclaim, publish, without control, doctrines wholly contrary to the interests of Christ, and the truths of religion? It were no hard matter to shew you the rise, and to dive to the bottom, of this dangerous opinion. I shall only give you a marginal note in Baronius*, "Nulla facultas Imperatoribus de rebus Ecclesiæ decernendi,” (just the language of Donatus,) that emperors have no power to determine any thing in church-matters; and elsewhere, That nothing is valid which a king ordereth in churches, without the bishop of Rome.
4. Reverence the oaths of God which are upon you. They are not, as Lysander profanely said ", to be played with as boys do with skittle-pins. It is the character of good men to fear an oath. (Eccles. ix. 2) And a most severe punishment was brought upon Zedekiah, for violating an oath. (Ezek. xvii. 13-19) How observant was Joshua of his oath, though fraudulently procured by the Gibeonites ! (Josh. ix. 19) It is not safe to distinguish ourselves out of the obligation of solemn oaths, or, after vows, to make en
Epist. 48, 50. et 166. contra Crescon. Gram. 1. 3. c. 51. de Civ. Dei. 1. 1. Baron. An. 528. sect. 7. An. 681. sect. 72. b Plutarch. Apoph. Οὐ γὰρ ἐπὶ ψεύδεσσι πατὴς Ζεὺς ἔσσε ἀρωγός· ̓Αλλ ̓ οἶπες πρότεροι ὑπὲρ ὅρκια δηλήσαντο, Τῶν ἦτοι αὐτῶν τέρενα χρόα γῦπες ἔδονται· Homer. Iliad. 4. 235. Vid. Exempl. Philip. Maced. Regis, Paus. 1. 8. p. 465.
quiry. (Prov. xx. 25) A good man, though he swear to his own hurt, changeth not. (Psalm xv. 4) How much more when he swears to preserve the laws, and other the great interests and privileges of a city or nation, as you magis
Lastly, Consider in this our day, what are the things which belong to our peace. (Luke xix. 42) It is a great wisdom in evil days to redeem time.' (Eph. v. 15, 16) It is noted of the men of Issachar that they had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do. (1 Chron. xii. 32) As Mordecai said to Esther, Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?' (Esther iv. 14) Surely in such a time as this, a day of trouble and rebuke, it is necessary for every man to beg of God to shew him his way, to advise with the word of God, what wisdom, or counsel, or help he may put in to keep God with us, and to prevent this dismal wo of God's removing our candlestick, and departing from us. Must I write? must I speak? must 1 counsel ? must I pray? must I do judgement amd justice? Lord, we seek of thee a right way; be thou entreated of us! (Ezra viii. 21, 23) In evil and dangerous days, as all men, so especially Moses and Phinehas, magistrates and ministers, are, by their fidelity and zeal, to stand in the gap, and to obviate those judgements which are impendent over us.
I conclude with the prophet Zechary. (Zech. ii. 5) "The Lord is a wall of fire round about, where he is the glory in the midst of a people. He will encamp about his house." (Zech. ix. 8) Upon all his glory there shall be a defence; (Isai. iv. 5) in token whereof the cherubims were on the walls of the temple, to note their protection about God's people. (2 Chron. iii. 7. Psalm xxxiv. 7) But if we do not resolve to hold God fast; if the glory of his truth, worship, and presence be once gone from us; if we once come to know the difference between the service of God, and the kingdoms of the countries; we shall with horror subscribe to the truth and dreadfulness of this dismal threatening, Wo also to them, when I depart from them!"
2 Chron. xii. 8.
WALL AND GLORY OF JERUSALEM :
A SERMON preached in St. Paul's Church, London, before the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Lord General, Aldermen, Common Council, and Companies of the Honourable City of London, February 28, 1659. Being a day of Solemn Thanksgiving unto God, for restoring the Parliament and Common-Council, and for preserving the City.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON,
THE COURT OF ALDERMEN AND COMMON-COUNCIL.
AMONGST all the exceeding great and precious promises which the Lord hath made unto his people, these are of a very radiant lustre and special magnitude-That he would appoint a place for them, and plant them, that they should dwell in a place of their own, and move no more, neither should the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as before time: That he would build them, and not pull them down; and plant them, and not pluck them up; and give them a heart to know him, and to return unto him with their whole heart. Whereby we understand, that stability and sanctity, healing and holiness, are two most eminent and signal mercies of God unto a people, who have been long exercised with breach upon breach, and emptied from vessel into vessel. How sad the condition of those discomposed and dilacerated nations hath been! how doleful the earthquakes and concussions both in church and state! how
daring the insolences and attempts of men of unstable minds, destitute of solid and steady principles, acted by the various and quotidian conduct of changeable and domestical interests, have been against our Jachin and our Boaz, authority in our parliaments, and ministry in our churches,-hath been so well known both at home and abroad, as to render these nations a shame to themselves, and a ludibrium to the world! What the great works are which the Lord by the wonderful series and vicissitudes of Providence is doing in the midst of us, the hearts of his servants, hanging in suspense between hope and fear, do tremulously attend upon, and labour to understand. When we consider the maturity of our mighty sins, we have great reason to fear his wrath; and when we observe the progress of his wonderful works, we have some comfortable encouragement to hope for the reward of his mercy: and that so much the rather, because he hath stirred up your hearts in this great city to return unto him the glory due unto his name, for his goodness to these nations, in restoring the parliament, and unto yourselves, in restoring your council, and healing the wound inflicted on the honour of this renowned city. That the Lord will be graciously pleased to crown and consummate the mercies which he hath begun, in guiding the hearts of the people to choose for this next parliament, men of eminency for piety and prudence; who may come with healing spirits, and make it their business to repair our breaches, and be the restorers of paths to dwell in; who may lay to heart the interest of Christ and his church, and promote purity of doctrine and worship, due administration of holy ordinances, and whatever may conduce to the power of godliness and the comfort of all that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity; that he will be pleased to set his eyes and his heart upon this city for good, and to dwell in it night and day, to be a wall of fire about it, and the glory in the midst of it, to appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks unto it, is and shall be the hearty prayer of,
Your most humble and faithful servant in the Lord,
March 14, 1659.
ZECH. ii. 5.
For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
Two gracious visions the Lord giveth our prophet in the former chapter: one, of a 'man riding amongst the myrtle trees' in the bottom; Christ in his despised church at Babylon;-the other, of 'four carpenters,' sent to fray and cast out the horns, which had scattered the church:-by both, giving an assurance, that he would disappoint the enemies of his afflicted people.
We have here, in this chapter, another vision, of a man with a measuring line in his hand,' to shew that the Lord was now in a readiness to build and restore the city and temple; the former, we find accordingly done by the care of Nehemiah, Chap. iii, and Chap. vi. 15; the latter by Joshua and Zerubbabel, Ezra vi. 14, 15.
Now whereas it is here said, ver. 4, That Jerusalem should be inhabited as towns without walls,' which may seem, 1. to cross the history, Neh. vi. 15, where we find that the wall was finished;-2. to discourage the people, who having such potent and malicious adversaries round about, as they had, should by that means be exposed to all the assaults and impressions which they should make upon them:-The meaning is, that though the city within the walls were very spacious, yet the people should return in so great abundance, (as Josephus reports they did) that multitudes should be constrained to lie without the walls, unto whom the Lord promiseth to be himself a wall and defence. b
They were now called to build the city and temple; two great discouragements they meet with in that enterprize, danger and scorn. (Neh. iv. 8, and i. 3, 7, 8, 9. Neh. vi. 1, 10. Ezra iv. 4, 5) The Lord here, by a gracious promise, fortifieth them against the fear of both; against the fear of 'danger,' by promising to be their protection; and against
Antiq. l. 11. c. 4.
b Isai. lx. 22. Jer. xxxi. 27.