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and lieutenants, the way, or the time to beg of him, that he will imprint in them, such counsels, and such resolutions, as his wisdoms knows best to conduce to his glory, and the maintenance of his Gospel. Amen.
THE FIRST OF THE PREBEND OF Chiswick's Five Psalms; WHICH
FIVE ARE APPOINTED FOR THAT PREBEND; AS THERE ARE FIVE
PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S, MAY 8, 1625.
Psalm lxii. 9.
Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie ; to be
laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. We consider the dignity of the Book of Psalms, either in the whole body together, or in the particular limbs and distribution thereof. Of the whole body, it may be enough to tell you that which St. Basil saith, That if all the other books of Scripture could perish, there remained enough in the Book of Psalms for the supply of all: and therefore he calls it Amuletum ad profligandum dæmonem; Any psalm is exorcism enough to expel any devil, charm enough to remove any temptation, enchantment enough to ease, nay to sweeten any tribulation. It is abundantly enough that our Saviour Christ himself cites the psalms, not only as canonical scripture, but as a particular, and entire, and noble limb of that body; All must be fulfilled of me (saith le) which is written in the law, in the prophets, and in the psalms'. The law alone was the Sadducees' scripture, they received no more: the law and the prophets were (especially) the Scribes’ scripture, they interpreted that: the Christian's Scripture, in the Old Testa
· Luke xxiv, 44.
ment, is especially the Psalms. For (except the prophecy of Isaiah be admitted into the comparison, no book of the Old Testament is so like a gospel, so particular in all things concerning Christ, as the Psalms.
So hath the Book of Psalms an especial dignity in the entire body, altogether. It hath so also in divers distributions thereof into parts. For even amongst the Jews themselves, those fifteen psalms which follow immediately and successively after the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm, were especially distinguished, and dignified by the name of Gradual Psalms; whether because they were sung upon the degrees and stairs ascending to the altar, or because he that read them in the temple, ascended into a higher and more eminent place to read them, or because the word gradual implies a degree of excellency in the Psalms themselves, I dispute not; but a difference those fifteen psalms ever had above the rest, in the Jewish and in the Christian church too. So also hath there been a particular diguity ascribed to those seven psalms, which we have ever called the Penitential Psalms; of which St. Augustine had so much respect, as that he commanded them to be written in a great letter, and hung about the curtains of his death-bed within, that he might give up the ghost in contemplation, and meditation of those seven psalms. And it hath been traditionally received, and recommended by good authors, that that hymn, which Christ and his apostles are said to have sung after the institution and celebration of the sacrament", was a hymn composed of those six psalms, which we call the Hallelujah Psalms, immediately preceding the hundred and nineteenth.
So then, in the whole body, and in some particular limbs of the body, the church of God hath had an especial consideration of the Book of Psalms. This church in which we all stand now, and in which myself, by particular obligation serve, hath done so too. In this church, by ancient constitutions, it is ordained, that the whole Book of Psalms should every day, day by day, be rehearsed by us, who make the body of this church, in the ears of Almighty God. And therefore every prebendary of this church, is by those constitutions bound every day to praise God in those
, Matt. xxvi. 30.
five psalms which are appointed for his prebend. And of those five psalms which belong to me, this, out of which I have read you this text, is the first. And, by God's grace, (upon like occasions) I shall here handle some part of every one of the other four psalms, for some testimony, that those my five psalms return often into my meditation, which I also assure myself of the rest of my brethren, who are under the same obligation in this church.
For this whole psalm, which is under our present consideration, as Athanasius amongst all the fathers, was most curious, and most particular, and exquisite, in observing the purpose, and use of every particular psalm, (for to that purpose, he goes through them all, in this manner; If thou wilt encourage men to a love, and pursuit of goodness, say the first psalm, and thirty-first, and one hundredth and fortieth, &c. If thou wilt convince the Jews, say the second psalm; if thou wilt praise God for things past, say this, and this, and this, and this if thou wilt pray for future things) so for this psalm, which we have in hand, he observes in it a summary abridgment of all; for of this psalm he says in general, Adversus insidiantes, Against all attempts upon thy body, thy state, thy soul, thy fame, temptations, tribulations, machinations, defamations, say this psalm. As he saith before, That in the Book of Psalms, every man may discern motus animi sui, his own sinful inclinations expressed, and arm himself against himself; so in this psalm, he may arm himself against all other adversaries of any kind.
And therefore as the same father entitles one sermon of his, Contra omnes hæreses, A sermon for the convincing of all heresies, in which short sermon he meddles not much with particular heresies, but only establishes the truth of Christ's person in both natures, which is indeed enough against all heresies, and in which (that is the consubstantiality of Christ with the Father, God of God) this father Athanasius, hath enlarged himself more than the rest (insomuch, that those heretics which grow so fast, in these our days, the Socinians, who deny the Godhead of Christ, are more vexed with that father, than with any other, and call him for Athanasius, Sathanasius) as he calls that sermon, a sermon against all heresies, so he presents this psalm against all temptations, and tribulations; not that therein David
puts himself to weigh particular temptations, and tribulations, but that he puts every man, in every trial, to put himself wholly upon God, and to know, that if man cannot help him in this world, nothing can; and, for man, Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie; to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
We consider in the words, the manner, and the matter, how it is spoken, and what is said. For the first, the manner, this is not absolutely spoken, but comparatively, not peremptorily, but respectively, not simply, but with relation. The Holy Ghost, in David's mouth, doth not say, that man can give no assistance to man; that man may look for no help from man ; but, that God is always so present, and so all-sufficient, that we need not doubt of him, nor rely upon any other, otherwise than as an instrument of his. For that which he had spread over all the verses of the psalm before, he sums up in the verse immediately before the text, Trust in God at all times, for he is a refuge for us; and then, he strengthens that with this, What would ye prefer before God, or join with God ? man? what man? Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie; to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
Which words being our second part, open to us these steps: first, that other doctrines, moral or civil instructions may be delivered to us possibly, and probably, and likely, and credibly, and under the like terms, and modifications, but this is in our text, is assuredly, undoubtedly, undeniably, irrefragably, Surely men of low degree, &c. For howsoever when they two are .compared together, with one another, it may admit discourse and disputation, whether men of high degree, or of low degree do most violate the laws of God; that is, whether prosperity or adversity make men most obnoxious to sin, yet, when they come to be compared, not with one another, but both with God, this asseveration, this surely reaches to both ; Surely, the man of low degree is vanity, and, as surely, the man of high degree is a lie. And though this may seem to leave some room, for men of middle ranks, and fortunes, and places, that there is a mediocrity, that might give an assurance, and an establishment, yet there is no such thing in this case, for (as surely still) to be laid in the
balance, they are all, (not all of low, and all of high degree, all rich, and all poor, but) all, of all conditions, altogether lighter than vanity.
Now, all this doth not destroy, not extinguish, not annihilate that affection in man, of hope, and trust, and confidence in anything; but it rectifies that hope, and trust, and confidence, and directs it upon the right object : trust not in flesh, but in spiritual things, that we neither bend our hopes downward, to infernal spirits, to seek help in witches; nor miscarry it upward, to seek it in saints, or angels, but fix it in him, who is nearer us than our own souls, our blessed, and gracious, and powerful God, who in this one psalm is presented unto us, by so many names of assurance and confidence, my expectation, my saloation, my rock, my defence, my glory, my strength, my refuge, and the rest.
First then these words, Surely men of low degree, and men of high degree are vanity, are not absolutely, simply, unconditionally spoken; man is not nothing : nay, it is so far from that, as that there is nothing but man. As, though there may
As, though there may be many other creatures living, which were not derived from Eve, and yet Eve is called Mater vicentium®, The mother of all that live, because the life of none but man, is considered ; so there be many
other creatures, and Christ sends his apostles to preach, omni creaturce*, to every creature, yet he means none but man. All that God did in making all other creatures, in all the other days, was but a laying in of materials; the setting up of the work was in the making of man. God had a picture of himself from all eternity; from all eternity, the Son of God was the image of the invisible God"; but then God would have one picture, which should be the picture of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost too, and so made man to the image of the whole Trinity. As the apostle argues, Cui dixit, To whom did God ever say, This day have I begotten thee, but to Christo? so we say, for the dignity of man, Cui dixit, Of what creature did God ever say, Faciamus, Let us, us make it, all, all, the persons together, and to employ, and exercise, not only power, but counsel in the making of that creature ? Nay, when man was at worst, he was at a high price ; man being