Page images
PDF
EPUB

therefore, and for our soul's sake, let us be wiser, and renew our covenant with God; and, seeing this is a day of gifts, let my Vewyear's-gift to you be this holy advice from Goul, which may make you happy for ever. Let your New-year's-gift to God be your hearts, the best part of yourselves, the center of yourselves, to which all our actions are circumferences: and, if they be such a present, as we have reason to fear God will not accept, because they are sinful; yet, if they be humbled, if penitent, we know he will receive them; A contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise ; Psalm lj. 17. And, if we cannot give him our hearts, yet give him our desires, and he will take our unworthy hearts from us; I will take the stony hearts out of their bodies, Ezek. xi. 19; and he will graciously return a happy New-year’s-gift to us, I will put a new spirit within their bozeels, and will give them a heart of flesh; Ezek. xi. 14. He will create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us; so, as he will make a new heaven for us, he will make us new for this heaven: he will make his tabernacle in us, that he may make ours with him: Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, &c.

The superstitious Lystrians cried out amazed, that gods were come down to them in the likeness of men : but we Christians know, that it is no rare thing for God to come and dwell with men; Fe are the Temples of the living God, and I will duell among them and walk there; 2 Cor. vi. 16. The faithful heart of man is the tabernacle of God. But because, though God be ever with u.;, we are not always so with him; yea, while we are at hu me in the body, ue are absent from the Lord, as St. J'aul complains; therefore will God vouchsafe us a nearer cohabitation, that shall not be capable of any interposition, of any absence: Belwld, the Tabernacle of God is with men.

But, besides this tabernacle of flesh, time was when God dwelt in a material visible house with men. He had his tabernacle first, which was a moving temple; and then his temple, which was a fixed tabernacle; 2 Chron. vii. 16: both of them had one measure; both one name. But, as one said upon that, Ezek. xlii. Mensus est similitudinem domus ; that both the Tabernacle and Temple (570) were similitudes of God's house, rather than the house itself: so say I, that they were intended for notable resemblances both of the holy Church of God upon earth, 1 Pet. ii. 5; and of the glorious Sanctuary of heaven. This is the true 53'7 of Goi, which word signifieth both a Temple, Ezra iv. 1, and a Palace, Dan. i. +; because he dwells where he is worshipped, and he is magnificent in both. It is the material tabernacle which is alluded to; the iminaterial, which is promised: a tabernacle, that goes a thousand times more beyond the glittering Temple of Solomon, than Soo’LOS Temple went beyond the Tabernacle of Moses.

Neither ie it trouble any man, that the name of a Tabernacle implies flui uncertainty. For as the Temple, howsoever it were called

.), A house of Ages; yet lasted not (either the first, I mean, or ses 2 unto five hundred years: so this house, though God cit.

bernacle, yet he makes it an everlasting habitation; camun wiórios, Luke xvi. 9; for he tells us, that both age and deathi are gone, before it come down to men.

But why rather doth the tabernacle of God descend to men, than men ascend to it? Whether this be in respect of John's vision, to whom the New Jerusalem seemed to descend from heaven; descendi, as one saith, innotescenda, and therefore it is resembled by all the riches of this inferior world, gold, precious stones, pearl: or, whether heaven is therefore said to descend to us, because it meets us in the air, when Christ Jesus, attended with innumerable angels, shall descend to fetch his elect; 1 Thess. iv.. 16: or, whether this phrase be used for a greater expression of love and mercy, since it is more for a prince to come to us, than for us to go to his court: certainly, God means only in this to set forth that perpetual and reciprocal conversation, which he will bare with men; They shall dwell with God, God shall dzeell with them. Our glory begins ever in grace: God doth dwell with all those in grace, with whom he will dwell in glory. Every Christian carries in his bosom a shrine of God: know ye not that Christ Jesus is in you? saith St. Paul; 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Wheresoever God dwells, there is his Temple: “Wilt thou pray in the Temple? pray in thyself,” saith Austin.

Here is the Altar of a clean heart, from which the sweet incense of our prayers, as a pleasant perfume, is sent up into the nostrils of God. Here are the pure Candles of our faith ever burning before God, night and day; never to be extinguished. Here is the spiritual Shew-Bread, the bread of life standing ever ready upon the table of the soul. Here doth the Ark of the heart, in the inwardest of the breast, keep the Law of God, and that Manna that came down from heaven.' Here God dwells, and here he is worshipped.

Behold, what need we care whither we go, while we carry the God of Heaven with us? He is with us as our companion, as our guide, as our guest. No impotency of person, no cross of estate, no distance of place, no opposition of men, no gates of hell, can separate him from us: He hath said it, I will not leare, nor forsake thee. We are all now parting one from another; and now is loosing a knot of the most loving and entire fellowship, that ever meet in the Court of any Prince. Our sweet Master, that was compounded of all loveliness, infused this gracious harmony into our hearts. Now we are saluting our last; and every one is, with sorrow enough, taking his own way. How safe, how happy shall we be, if each of us shall have God to go with him! Certamly, my Dear Fellows, we shall never complain of the want of masters, of friends, while we find ourselves sure of him: nothing can make us miserable, while we are furnished with him. Shall we think he cannot fare ill, that hath money in his purse; and shall we think he can miscarry, that hath God in his heart? How shall not all com. fort, all happiness accompany that God, whose presence is the cause of all blessedness? He shall counsel us in our doubts, direct

[ocr errors]

us in our resolutions, dispose of us in our estates, cheer us in our distresses, prosper us in our lives, and in our deaths crown us.

And if such felicity follow upon God's dwelling with us in these smoky cottages of our mortality, where we, through our unquiet corruptions, will not suffer ourselves to have a full fruition of God; what happiness shall there be in our dwelling with God, in those eternal tabernacles of rest and glory! Beloved, there is no loss, no misery, which the meditation of heaven cannot digest.

We have lived in the eve of a Prince, whose countenance was able to put life into any beholder. How oft bath that face shined upon us, and we have found our heart warm with those comfortable beams! Behold, we shall live with that God, in whose presence is the fulness of joy.

We have lived in the society of worthy men; yet, but men; subject to all passions, infirmities, self-respects: which of us all can hare escaped without some unkindnesses, detractions, emulations? Earthly Courts can be no more without these, than these can be without corruption: there, we shall live in the company of innumerable angels, and the spirits of just and perfect men; neither can there be any jar in those Hallelujahs, which we shall all sing to God; Rev. xix. 3.

We have lived to see the magnificence of earthly princes, and to partake of it; in their buildings, furnitures, feasts, triumphs; in their wealth, pomp, pleasures : but, open your eyes, and see the New Jerusalem, the City of the great King of Saints, and all these sublunary vamties shall be contemnd. Here you shall see a foursquare city; the walls of jasper; the foundations garnished with all precious stones; twelve gates of twelve pearls; the houses and streets of pure gold, like shining glass: a crystal river runs in the midst of it; and on the banks of it grow's the tree of life, ever green, ever fruitfiel: this is for the Eye. The tar shall be filled with the melody of angels, ever singing, Tlolij

, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. The Taste shall be satisfied with manna, the food of angels; with the fruit of the tree of life; with that new wine, which our Saviour hath promised to drink with us in his kingdom. These are the dim shadows of our future blessedness. right hand, () God, are pleasures for evermore; and such pleasures, as if they could be expressed or conceived, were not worthy of our longings, nor able to satisfy us. Oh, that we could so much the more long to enjoy them, by how much less we are able to comprehend thein!

When St. Paul made his Farewell Serion to the Ephesians, he fetched tears from the eyes of his auditors, so full of holy passion was his speech; especially with that one clause, And now, behold, I know, ihat henceforth you all, through whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more ; Acts xx. 25. A sad clause indeed, You shall see my face no more! The mind of man cannot endure to take a final leave of any thing that oflends it not: but the face of a friend, of a companion, hath so much pleasure in it, that we cannot without much sorrow think of seeing it our last.

At thy

But what if we shall meet here no more? what if we shall no more see one another's face ? Brethren, we shall once meet together above: we shall once see the glorious face of God, and never look off again.

Let it not over-grieve us, to leave these tabernacles of stone, since we must shortly lay down these tabernacles of clay, and enter into tabernacles not made with hands, eternal in ihe heavens. Till then, farewell, my Dear Brethren, farewell in the Lord. Go in peace; and live as those that have lost such a Master, and as those that serve a Master whom they cannot lose: And the God of Peace go with you, and prosper you in all your ways; and so fix his Tabernacle in you upon earth, that you may be received into those Tabernacles of the New Jerusalem, and dwell with him for ever, in that glory which he hath provided for all that love him. Amen.

SERMON VI.

A HOLY PANEGYRIC:

A SERMON PREACHED AT PAUL'S CROSS, UPON THE ANNIVERSARY SO.

LEMNITY OF THE HAPPY INAUGURATION OF OUR DREAD SOVEREIGN LORD, KING JAMES, MARCH 24, 1613.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

SIR JOHN SIVINERTON, KNIGHT,

LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON,

ALL GRACE AND HAPPINESS.

RIGHT HONOURABLE:

My own forwardness, whereof it repenteth me not, hath sent forth other of my labours unbidden; but this, your effectual importunity hath drawn forth into the common light. It is a holy desire, that the eye may second the ear, in any thing that may help the soul ; and we, that are fishers of men, should be wanting to ourselves, if we had not baits for both those senses. I plead not the disadvantage of a dead letter, in respect of that life, which elocution puts into

any discourse. Such as it is, I make it both public, and yours. I have caused my thoughts, so near as I could, to go back to the very terms wherein 1 expressed them; as thinking it better to fetch those words I have let fall, than to follow those I must take up. That, therefore, which it pleased your Lordship to hear with such putient attention, and with so good affection to desire, I not unwillingly suffer abroad ; that these pupers may speak that permanently to the eyes of all our Countrymen, which in the passage found such favour in the ears of your Citizens, and such room in so many hearts. Besides your first and vehement motion for the press, your known love to learning deserves a better acknowledgement, and no doubt finds it from more worthy hands. And, if my gratulation would add any thing, those should envy you, which will not imitate you. For the rest, God give your Lordship a wise, understanding, and courageous heart ; that you may prudently and strongly manage these wild times upon which you are fallen ; and, by your holy example and powerful endeavours, help to shorten these reins of licentiousness : that so

« PreviousContinue »