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Christ Jesus unto good works, which he hath ordained that we should walk in them." Let it therefore be our chief care and study to live to the praise of his glorious grace, and to shew forth the virtues of him, that hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. The more glory we bring unto our Lord on earth, the more glory doth he provide for us in heaven.
TOUCHING THE USE OF
Preached in Mercers'-Chapel, at the Funeral of that learned gentleman, Mr. JOHN LANGLEY, late Schoolmaster of Paul's School in London, on the 21st day of September, 1657.
TO THE HONOURABLE
SIR HENRY YELVERTON, BARONET.
There is none amongst all my noble friends, unto whom the dedication of this Sermon doth more properly belong, than unto yourself; for beside that debt of honour which I owe to your family, not only for the favours received from yourself, but from your noble father and grandfather, now with God;-when I consider the very great love and high esteem which your father did bear to that good man at whose funeral the Sermon was preached; unto whose care he intrusted the two props of his family, yourself and your most hopeful brother (whom God took from that school to a celestial academy), and withal your own hereditary possession of the same love and esteem, as a grateful return unto this learned man for his special care in your education;—and when I further remember the noble thoughts and singular honour which this worthy man ever had towards your father, yourself, and all the relations of your family; it was not possible for me to look farther for a name to inscribe before this small book. I have therefore assumed the boldness to
put so poor a testimony of those honourable affections, which I owe unto you, and of that great love which I bear to the name of that good man, who was so dear unto you, into your hands; as knowing withal how much the argument of this Sermon would be acceptable unto you, who can experimentally subscribe to the excellency and use of that learning which it pleadeth for, and, as an eye and ear-witness, can attest the character of that worthy person, to whose obsequies this last office of love was performed. My hearty prayer for you unto God is, that he will crown all those great blessings which he hath bestowed upon you, with a more abundant greatness of his heavenly grace, that you may be eminently serviceable to his great name, and may so tread in the steps of your worthy progenitors (which I persuade myself you do), as not only to keep up the life and power of godliness in your own heart and family, but, further, to be a comforter, countenancer, and encourager (as they were) both of learned and godly ministers, and of others who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. To his gracious protection and blessing I commend you, and all yours, desiring to be es
Your most faithful and humble servant,
ACTS VII. 22.
And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
In the former chapter, we read of a dispute between Stephen, and the members of a certain synagogue in Jerusalem, called the Synagogue of the Libertines; of such Jews, who, having been servants to the Romans, were manumitted and made free; for such the Romans called Libertines':-of which sort of Jews, coming out of several parts of the world, that college, or convention, seemeth to have been made up: or,
■ Justin. Instit. 1. 1. tit. 5. Vid. Rosin. Antiq. Rom. 1. 1. c. 20. Et Calvini Lexic. Juridic.
as Grotius supposeth, was built by them at Jerusalem for their countrymen and proselytes, as there are at Rome and Rheims colleges for English papists.
The issue of this disputation was, that, being worsted at arguments, these Libertines betake themselves to calumnies b and false accusations: as the Pharisees, when their reasons were spent, were wont to take up stones to throw at Christ. They bring him from a scholastical to a judicial defence; from the college to the council; and, by false witnesses, charge him with blasphemy against Moses and God. Whereupon, being, pro forma,' permitted to make his defence (for persecutors will manage their cruelties under a form of law, that they may appear the more specious), he doth it largely with much wisdom and courage.
The scope of the Sermon is to shew (upon a fair issue with his accusers) that he was not guilty of the charge given in against him; that it did not follow, because he affirmed that Christ would destroy the temple, and change the customs which Moses delivered, that therefore he blasphemed either Moses or God. The argument of his justification is by an historical induction. 1. If Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, worshipped God without a temple, and without such customs as Moses delivered,-and Moses did, without blasphemy against them, make that alteration which God was pleased to command him to make;-then the worship of God is not peremptorily confined to an outward temple, or a Mosaical ministration: but Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, by obeying the commands, and believing the promises of God, did acceptably worship him without a temple, or Mosaical ceremonies: therefore it is no blasphemy to say, that God may so be worshipped. 2. Again, If Moses, a great, a learned, a mighty ruler and deliverer, did assure the people that a Prophet God would raise,' who should do as he had done, make new institutions, and set up a more excellent way of worship; then it was no blasphemy against Moses, or God, to say, that the customs, by him introduced, should be, by that prophet, altered. But Moses himself did teach the people thus to believe: therefore Stephen, teaching the
b Istaæ sunt hereticorum machine, ut, convicti de perfidia, ad maledicta se conferant : Hier. Apol. 2. adver. Ruff.
same, did not blaspheme Moses. 3. Again, That which was not blasphemy to affirm of the tabernacle, though it were set up by God's special appointment unto Moses, is not blasphemy to affirm of the temple: but it was not blasphemy to affirm the use of the tabernacle to have been temporary, and consequently alterable: therefore to affirm the same of the temple is not blasphemy; especially since the Lord hath said, that "he dwelleth not in temples made with hands."
Together with these strong arguments, are interwoven apologetical reprehensions; Stephen justifying himself against their accusations now, by the same argument whereby Moses was to be justified against their fathers before." Moses did, by wonders and signs in Egypt, in the Red Sea, in the Wilderness, prove himself to be a ruler and judge, sent of God; and yet your fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and made a calf to worship. Now the Lord hath raised up the Prophet whom Moses foretold, who, by signs and wonders, did prove himself to be of God; but you thrust him from you, and resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did. And your refusing of Jesus is no more argument against his doctrine and institutions, than their refusing of Moses was an argument against his inasmuch as you are not able to allege any thing, why your fathers should have believed Moses, which we are not able to allege, why you ought to believe Christ."
Unto this strong defence of Stephen, neither the judges, nor his accusers, make any reply by way of argument: but though he professed himself to be, at that time, an eye-witness of the truth of Jesus' being in glory, yet, in a rage and outery, they cast him out of the city, and stoned him. The stronger were his arguments for the truth, the more excessive was their malice against him for it.
The words of the text are a branch of the second argument, drawn from the testimony of Moses, and the historical narration touching him: and they contain the fruit which followed upon the noble education which he received from the hand and care of Pharaoh's daughter; he so prospered under it, that "he became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and was a mighty man both for oratory and action :—