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I must not stay you now, to infuse into
the several consolations of these several names, and notions of God towards you. But, go your several ways home, and every soul take with him that name,
which may minister most comfort unto him. Let him that is pursued with any particular temptation, invest God, as God is a refuge, a sanctuary. Let him that is buffeted with the messenger of Satan, battered with his own concupiscence, receive God, as God is his defence and target. Let him that is shaked with perplexities in his understanding, or scruples in his conscience, lay hold upon God, as God is his rock, and his anchor. Let him that hath any diffident jealousy or suspicion of the free and full mercy of God, apprehend God, as God is his salvation ; and him that walks in the ingloriousness and contempt of this world, contemplate God, as God is his glory. Any of these notions is enough to any man, but God is all these, and all else, that all souls can think, to every man. We shut up both these considerations, (man should not, that is not all, God should be relied upon) with that of the prophet, Trust ye not in a friend, put not your confidence in a guide, keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lies in thy bosom 56 ; (there is the exclusion of trust in man) and then he adds in the seventh verse, because it stands thus between man and man, I will look unto the Lord, I will look to the God of my salvation, my God will hear me.
56 Mic. vii. 5.
The Second OF MY PREBEND SERMONS UPON MY Five Psalms.
PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S, JANUARY 29, 1625.
PSALM lxiii. 7.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will
The Psalms are the manna of the church. As manna tasted to every man like that he liked best', so do the Psalms minister instruction, and satisfaction, to every man, in every emergency and occasion. David was not only a clear prophet of Christ himself, but a prophet of every particular Christian ; he foretells what I, what any shall do, and suffer, and say. And as the whole Book of Psalms is oleum effusum, (as the spouse speaks of the name of Christ) an ointment poured out upon all sorts of sores, a cerecloth that supples all bruises, a balm that searches all wounds; so are there some certain Psalms, that are imperial Psalms, that command over all affections, and spread themselves over all occasions, catholic, universal Psalms, that apply themselves to all necessities. This is one of those; for, of those constitutions which are called apostolical, one is, that the church should meet every day, to sing this Psalm. And accordingly, St. Chrysostom testifies, That it was decreed, and ordained by the primitive fathers, that no day should pass without the public singing of this Psalm. Under both these obligations, (those ancient constitutions, called the apostle's, and those ancient decrees made by the primitive fathers) belongs to me, who have my part in the service of God's church, the especial meditation, and recommendation of this Psalm. And under a third obligation too, that it is one of those five Psalms, the daily rehearsing whereof, is enjoined to me, by the constitutions of this church, as five other are to every other person of our body. As the whole book is
I Wisdom xvi. 20.
Cant. i. 3.
manna, so these five Psalms are my gomer, which I am to fill and empty every day of this manna.
Now as the spirit and soul of the whole Book of Psalms is contracted into this Psalm, so is the spirit and soul of this whole Psalm contracted into this verse. The key of the Psalm, (as St. Hierome calls the titles of the Psalms) tells us, That David uttered this Psalm, when he was in the wilderness of Judah; there we see the present occasion that moved him; and we see what was passed between God and him before, in the first clause of our text (Because thou hast been my help) and then we see what was to come, by the rest, (Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice). So that we have here the whole compass of time, past, present, and future ; and these three parts of time, shall be at this time, the three parts of this exercise; first, what David's distress put him upon for the present; and that lies in the context; secondly, how David built his assurance upon that which was past; (Because thou hast been my help). And thirdly, what he established to himself for the future, (Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice). First, his distress in the wilderness, his present estate carried him upon the memory of that which God had done for him before, and the remembrance of that carried him upon that, of which he assured himself after. Fix upon
God any where, and you shall find him a circle ; he is with you now, when you fix upon him ; he was with you before, for he brought you out to this fixation; and he will be with you hereafter, for he is yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever3.
For David's present condition, who was now in a banishment, in a persecution in the wilderness of Judah, (which is our first part) we shall only insist upon that, (which is indeed spread over all the Psalm to the text, and ratified in the text) that in all those temporal calamities David was only sensible of his spiritual loss; it grieved him not that he was kept from Saul's court, but that he was kept from God's church. For when he says, by way of lamentation, That he was in a dry and thirsty land, where no water was, he expresses what penury, what barrenness, what drought and what thirst he meant; To see thy power, and thy glory, 80 as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. For there, my of the devil". And after I hear God ratify the same testimony again, at his transfiguration, (This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased "s) I find that beloved Son of his, deserted, abandoned, and given over to scribes, and Pharisees, and publicans, and Herodians, and priests, and soldiers, and people, and judges, and witnesses, and executioners, and he that was called the beloved Son of God, and made partaker of the glory of heaven, in this world, in his transfiguration, is made now the sewer of all the corruption, of all the sins of this world, as no Son of God, but a mere man, as no man, but a contemptible worm. As though the greatest weakness in this world, were man, and the greatest fault in man were to be good, man is more miserable than other creatures, and good men more miserable than any other men.
3 Heb. xiii. 8.
But then there is Pondus gloriæ, An exceeding weight of eternal glory, and that turns the scale ; for as it makes all worldly prosperity as dung, so it makes all worldly adversity as feathers. And so it had need; for in the scale against it, there are not only put temporal afflictions, but spiritual too; and to these two kinds, we may accommodate those words, He that falls upon this stone, (upon temporal afflictions) may be bruised, broken, But he upon whom that stone falls, (spiritual afflictions) is in danger to be ground to powder 16. And then, the great, and yet ordinary danger is, that these spiritual afflictions grow out of temporal; murmuring, and diffidence in God, and obduration, out of worldly calamities; and so against nature, the fruit is greater and heavier than the tree, spiritual heavier than temporal afflictions.
They who write of natural story, propose that plant for the greatest wonder in nature, which being no firmer than a bulrush, or a reed, produces and bears for the fruit thereof no other but an entire, and very hard stone"? That temporal affliction should produce spiritual stoniness, and obduration, is unnatural, yet ordinary. Therefore doth God propose it, as one of those greatest blessings, which he multiplies upon his people, I will take away your stony hearts, and give you hearts of flesh'8; and, Lord let me have a fleshly heart in any sense, rather than a stony
14 Matt. iv. 1.
16 Matt. xxi. 44. 17 Plin. l. xxyii. 11. Lithospermus. 18 Ezek. xi. 19; and xxxvi. 26.
heart. We find mention amongst the observers of rarities in nature, of hairy hearts, hearts of men, that have been overgrown with hair''; but of petrified hearts, hearts of men grown into stone, we read not; for this petrifaction of the heart, this stupefaction of a man, is the last blow of God's hand upon the heart of man in this world. Those great afflictions which are poured out of the vials of the seven angels upon the world, are still accompanied with that heavy effect, that that affliction hardened them. They were scorched with heats and plagues, by the fourth angel, and it follows, They blasphemed the name of God, and repented not, to give him glory. Darkness was induced upon them by the fifth angel, and it follows, They blasphemed the God of hearen, and repented not of their deeds. And from the seventh angel there fell hailstones of the weight of talents, (perchance four pound weight) upon men ; and yet these men had so much life left, as to blaspheme God, out of that respect, which alone should have brought them to glorify God, Because the plague thereof was exceeding great. And when a great plague brings them to blaspheme, how great shall that second plague be, that comes upon them for blaspheming?
Let me wither and wear out mine age in a discomfortable, in an unwholesome, in a penurious prison, and so pay my debts with my bones, and recompense the wastefulness of my youth, with the beggary of mine age; let me wither in a spital under sharp, and foul, and infamous diseases, and so recompense the wantonness of my youth, with that loathsomeness in mine age; yet, if God withdraw not his spiritual blessings, his grace, his patience, if I can call my suffering his doing, my passion his action, all this that is temporal, is but a caterpillar got into one corner of my garden, but a mildew fallen upon one acre of my corn; the body of all, the substance of all is safe, as long as the soul is safe. But when I shall trust to that, which we call a good spirit, and God shall deject, and impoverish, and evacuate that spirit, when I shall rely upon a moral constancy, and God shall shake, and enfeeble, and enervate, destroy and demolish that constancy; when I shall think to refresh myself in the serenity and sweet air of a good conscience, and God shall call up
20 Rev. xvi.
Pliny and Plutarch. VOL. III.