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served indeed: and so did he serve, that he endured all sorrow, and fulfilled all righteousness. So every Christian is a son and heir to the King of Heaven; and his word must be, “I serve.”
We all know what service means. For we all are, or were, I imagine, either servants of masters, or servants of the public, or masters of servants, or all these. We cannot therefore be ignorant, either what we require of ours, or what our superiors require of us. If service consisted only in wearing of liveries, in taking of wages, in making of courtesies, and kissing of hands, there were nothing more easy, or more common. All of us wear the cognizance of our Christianity in our Baptism: all live upon God's trencher in our maintenance: all give him the compliments of a fashionable profession. But, be not deceived: the life of service is work; the work of a Christian is obedience to the Law of God. The Centurion, when he would describe his good servant in the Gospel, needed to say no more but this; I bid him do this, and he doth it. Service then briefly is nothing but a readiness to do as we are bidden; and therefore both Solomon, and He, that was greater. than Solomon, describe it by keeping the commandments: and the Chosen Vessel gives an everlasting rule; His servants ye are to whom ye obey; Rom. vi. 16.
Now I might distinguish this service into habitual and actual: Habitual; for, as the servant, while he eats or sleeps, is in service still, so are we to God: Actual; whether universal in the whole carriage of our lives (which Zachariah tells us is in holiness, and righteousness; Luke i. 75; holiness to God, righteousness to men); or particular, either in the duties which are proper to God, invo cation and attendance on his ordinance, (which by an excellence is termed his service,) or in those which are proper to us, as we are pieces of a family, church, commonwealth; the station whereof God hath so disposed, that we may serve him in serving one ano ther. And thus you see I might make way for an endless discourse; but it shall content me, passing over this world of matter, to glance only at the generality of this infinite theme.
As every obedience serves God, so every sin makes God serve us. One said wittily, that the angry man made himself the judge, and God the executioner. There is no sin, that doth not the like. The glutton makes God his caterer, and himself the guest, and his belly his god; especially in the new-found feasts of this age, wherein profuseness and profaneness strive for the table's end. The lascivious man makes himself the lover; and, as Vives says of Mahomet, God the pander. The covetous man makes himself the usurer, and God the broker. The ambitious makes God his stale, and honour his God. Of every sinner doth God say justly, Servire me fecisti; Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; Isa. xliii. 24.
There cannot be a greater honour for us, than to serve such a master, as commands heaven, earth, and hell; whom it is both dis
* Lud. Vives de verit. Relig. 1. iv.
honour and baseness not to serve *. The highest style that king David could devise to give himself, not in the phrase of a frivolous French compliment, but in the plain speech of a true Israelite, was, Behold, I am thy servant; Psalm cxvi. 16: and he, that is Lord of many servants of the Devil, delights to call himself "The servant of the servants of God." The angels of heaven rejoice to But there cannot be be our fellows in this service; Rev. xxii. 9.
a greater shame, than to see servants ride on horseback, and princes walking as servants on the ground; Eccl. x. 7: I mean, to see the God of Heaven made a lacquey to our vile affections; and, in the lives of men, to see God attend upon the world.
Brethren, there is service enough in the world, but it is to a wrong master. In med patria Deus venter, as Jerome + said. Every worldling is a papist in this, that he gives deλtív, service, to the creature; which is the lowest respect that can be: yea, so much more humble than latria, as it is more absolute, and without respect of recompence. Yea, I would it were uncharitable to say, that many, besides the savages of Calecut, place Satan in the throne, and God on the footstool. For, as witches and sorcerers converse with evil spirits in plausible and familiar forms, which in ugly shapes they would abhor; so, many a man serves Satan under the forms of gold and silver, under the images of saints and lightsome angels, under glittering coats, or glorious titles, or beauteous faces, whom they would defy as himself. And, as the freeborn Israelite might become a servant, either by forfeiture upon trespass, or by sale, or by spoil in war; so, this accursed servitude is incurred the same ways, by them which should be Christians: by forfeiture; for, though the debt and trespass be to God, yet tradet lictori, he shall deliver the debtor to the jailor, Matt. xviii. 34: by sale; as Ahab sold himself to work wickedness; 1 Kings xxi. 20. sold under sin, saith the apostle: by spoil; Beware, lest any man make a spoil of you, ovλaywywv, saith Paul to his Colossians; Col.
Alas, what a miserable change do these men make, to leave the Living God, which is so bountiful, that he rewards a cup of cold water with eternal glory, to serve him that hath nothing to give but his bare wages: and what wages! The wages of sin is death: and what death! not the death of the body, in the severing of the soul; but the death of the soul, in the separation from God. There is not so much difference betwixt life and death, as there is betwixt the first death and the second. O woeful wages of a desperate work! Well were these men, if they might go unpaid, and serve for nothing but as the mercy of God will not let any of our poor services to him go unrewarded; so will not his justice suffer the contrary service go unpaid; in flaming fire rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and those that obey not the Gospel of our
Non reputes magnum, quòd Deo servis; sed maximum reputa, quòd ipse dignatur te in servum assumere sibi. Bernard. † In meá patriá Deus venter est, et in diem vivitur, et sanctior est ille qui ditior est, Hier, ad Chrematium.
Lord Jesus; 2 Thess. i. 8. Beloved, as that worthy Ambrose said on his death-bed," we are happy in this, that we serve a good Master;" how happy shall it be for us, if we shall do him good service, that, in the day of our account, we may hear, Euge, serce bone, Well done, good servant, enter into thy Master's joy!
Now he, that prescribes the act, Service; must also prescribe the manner, Truly, totally. God cannot abide we should serve him with a double heart, a heart and a heart; that is, hypocritically: neither that we should serve him with a false heart; that is, niggardly and unwillingly; but, against doubling he will be served in truth; and, against halving, he will be served with all the heart.
To serve God and not in truth, is mockery. To serve him truly, and not with the whole heart, is a base dodging with God. This óaμodλɛía, eye service, is a fault with men; but let us serve God but while he sees us, it is enough. Behold, he sees us every where, If he did not see our heart, it were enough to serve him in the face; and, if the heart were not his, it were too much to give him a part of it: but now that he made this whole heart of ours, it is reason he should be served with it; and now that he sees the inside of the heart, it is madness not to serve him in truth.
Those serve God, not in truth, which, as Seneca * says of some auditors, come to hear, not to learn; which bring their tablets to write words, not their hearts for the finger of God to write in; whose eyes are on their bible, while their heart is on their countbook; which can play the saints in the Church, ruffians in the tavern, tyrants in their houses, cheaters in their shops: those dames, which, under a cloke of modesty and devotion, hide nothing but pride and fiendishness.
Those serve God, not with all their heart; whose bosom is like Rachel's tent, that hath teraphim, idols, hid in the straw; or rather like a Philistine's temple, that hath the Ark and Dagon under one roof; that come in ever with Naaman's exceptives, Only in this: those, that have let down the world, like the spies, into the bottom of the well of their heart, and cover the mouth of it with wheat; I mean, that hide great oppressions, with the shew of small beneficences: those, which, like Solomon's false courtesan, cry Dividatur, and are willing to share themselves betwixt God and the world. And, certainly, this is a noble policy of the Devil; because he knows he hath no right to the heart, he can be glad of any corner: but withal he knows, that if he have any, he hath all; for where he hath any part, God will have none. This base mindedness is fit for that Evil One. God will have all, or nothing. It was a heroical answer, that Theodoret + reports of Valentinian, whom when the soldiers had chosen to be emperor, they were consulting to have another joined with him. No, my soldiers," said he, "it was in your power to give me the empire, while I had it not; but now when I have it, it is not in your power to give me a partner."
Epist. 108. Quidam veniunt ut audiant, non ut discant: Aliqui cum pugillaribus veniunt, non ut res excipiant, sed verba. + Theod. 1. iv. c. 4.
We ourselves say, The bed and the throne can abide no rivals. May we not well say of the heart, as Lot of Zoar, Is it not a little one? Alas, it is even too little for God! What! do we think of taking an Inmate into this cottage? It is a favour and happiness, that the God of Glory will vouchsafe to dwell in it alone. Even so, O God, take thou up these rooms for thyself; and enlarge them for the entertainment of thy Spirit: have thou us wholly, and let us have thee. Let the world serve itself: O let us serve thee, with all our hearts.
3. God hath set the heart on work to Fear, the hands on work to Serve him: now, that nothing may be wanting, he sets the head on work to CONSIDER; and that, not so much the Judgments of God, (yet those are of singular use, and may not be forgotten) as his Mercies; What great things he hath done for you, not against you. He, that looked upon his own works, and saw they were good, and delighted in them, delights that we should look upon them too; and applaud his wisdom, power, and mercy, that shines in them. Even the least of God's works are worthy of the observation of the greatest angel in heaven; but, the magnalia Dei, the great things he hath done, are more worthy of our wonder, of our astonishment.
Great things indeed that he did for Israel! he meant to make that nation a precedent of mercy, that all the world might see what he could do for a people. Heaven and earth conspired to bless them. What should I speak of the wonders of Egypt? Surely, I know not whether their preservation in it, or deliverance out of it, were more miraculous. Did they want a guide? himself goes before them in fire. Did they want a shelter? his cloud is spread over them for a covering. Did they want way? the sea itself shall make it; and be, at once, a street and a wall to them. Did they want bread? heaven itself shall pour down food of angels. Did they want meat to their bread? The wind shall bring them whole drifts of quails into their tents. Do they want drink to both? the very rocks shall yield it them. Do they want suits of apparel? their very clothes shall not wax old on their backs. Do they want advice? God himself shall give his vocal oracle between the cherubims. Do they want a law? God shall come down upon Sinai, and deliver it in fire, thundering, smoke, earthquakes; and write it with his own finger, in tables of stone. Do they want habitations? God shall provide them a land, that flows with milk and honey. Are they persecuted? God stands in fire between them and their harms. Are they stung to death? the brazen serpent shall cure them. Are they resisted? the walls of Jericho shall fall down alone; hail stones brain their enemies. The sun shall stand still in heaven, to see Joshua's revenge and victory. O great and mighty things, that God did for Israel!
II. And, if any nation under heaven could either parallel or second Israel in the FAVOURS of God, this poor little Island of ours is it. The cloud of his protection hath covered us. The bloodred sea of persecution hath given way to us, and we are passed
it dry shod. The true Manna from heaven is rained down abundantly about our tents. The water of life gusheth forth plenteously to us. The better law of the Gospel is given us from heaven, by the hand of his Son. The walls of the spiritual Jericho are fallen down before us, at the blast of the trumpets of God; and cursed be he, that goes about to build them up again. Now, therefore, that we may come more close to the task of this day, let me say to you, as Samuel to his Israelites; Consider with me what great things the Lord hath done for us; and, as one wished that the envious had eyes in every place, so could I seriously wish that all which have ill will at our Sion had their ears with me but one hour, that, if they belong not to God, they might burst with Judas, which repine with Judas at this seasonable cost of the precious ointment of our praises.
If I should look back to the ancient mercies of God, and shew you that this kingdom, though divided from the world, was one of the first that received the Gospel; that it yielded the first Christian Emperor, that gave peace and honour to the Church; the first and greatest lights, that shone forth in the darkest of popery, to all the world; and that it was the first kingdom that shook Antichrist fully out of the saddle; I might find just matter of praise and exultation: but I will turn over no other Chronicles, but your memory.
This day alone hath matter enough of an eternal gratulation. For this is the communis terminus, wherein God's favours meet upon our heads; which therefore represents to us, both what we had, and what we have; the one to our sense, the other to our remembrance. This day was both Queen Elizabeth's Initium gloria, and King James's Initium regni. To her, Natalitium salutis, as the Passion days of martyrs were called of old; and Natalis Imperii to him. These two names, shew us happiness enough to take up our hearts for ever.
1. And first, why should it not be our perpetual joy and rejoicing, that we were her subjects? O blessed Queen, the mother of this nation, the nurse of this Church, the glory of womanhood, the envy and example of foreign nations, the wonder of times, how sweet and sacred shall thy memory be to all posterities! How is thy name not Parables of the Dust, as the Jews * speak; nor written in the earth as Jeremiah speaks, but in the living earth of all loyal hearts, never to be razed. And, though the foul mouths of our adversaries stick not to call her miseram fæminam, as Pope Clement did; nor to say of her, as Evagrius † says uncharitably of Justinian the great lawgiver, ad supplicia justo Dei judicio aprid inferos luenda profecta est; and those, that durst not bring her on the stage living, bring her now dead, as I have heard by those that have seen it, into their processions, like a tormented ghost antenaed with fiends and firebrands, to the terror of their ignorant beholders: yet, as we saw she never prospered so well, as when she was most cursed by their Pius Vth.; so now we hope she is rather so much Evagr. I. v. c. 1.
*Job xiii. 12. on 'bwa.