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but in that foul, and sinful, and unclean action of nakedness, which thou committest then; consider all this and confess, that for matter of manners, and conversation, The God of thy saldation answers thee by terrible things. And so it is also, if we consider prayer in the church.
God's house is the house of prayer; it is his court of requests ; there he receives petitions, there he gives order upon them. And you come to God in his house, as though you came to keep him company, to sit down, and talk with him half an hour; or you come as ambassadors, covered in his presence, as though ye came from as great a prince as he. You meet below, and there make your bargains, for biting, for devouring usury, and then you come up hither to prayers, and so make God your broker. You rob, and spoil, and eat his people as bread, by extortion, and bribery, and deceitful weights and measures, and deluding oaths in buying and selling, and then come hither, and so make God your receiver, and his house a den of thieves. His house is sanctum sanctorum, the holiest of holies, and you make it only sanctuarium; it should be a place sanctified by your devotions, and you make it only a sanctuary to privilege malefactors, a place that may redeem you from the ill opinion of men, who must in charity be bound to think well of you, because they see you here. Offer this to one of your princes, (as God argues in the prophet) and see, if he will suffer his house to be profaned by such uncivil abuses; and terribilis Rex, the Lord most high is terrible, and a great king over all the earth 58; and terribilis super omnes Deos, More terrible than all other gods". Let thy master be thy god, or thy mistress thy god, thy belly be thy god, or thy back be thy god, thy fields be thy god, or thy chests be thy god, terribilis super omnes Deos, The Lord is terrible above all gods, A great God, and a great King above all gods“. You come, and call upon him by his name here, but magnum et terribile, Glorious and fearful is the name of the Lord thy God". And, as if the Son of God were but the son of some lord, that had been your school-fellow in your youth, and so you continued a boldness to him ever after, so, because you have been brought up with Christ from your cradle, and catechised in his name, his name becomes less revered unto you, and Sanctum et terribile, Holy and reverend, holy and terrible should his name be.
58 Psalm xLvii. 2, 69 Psalm cxv. 3.
$0 Psalm xcvi. 4.
61 Deut. xxviii, 58,
Consider the resolution that God hath taken upon the hypocrite, and his prayer; What is the hope of the hypocrite, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his orya? They have not oried unto me with their hearts, when they have howled upon their beds. Consider, that error in the matter of our prayer frustrates the prayer and makes it ineffectual. Zebedee's sons would have been placed at the right hand, and at the left hand of Christ, and were not heard®. Error in the manner may frustrate our prayer, and make it ineffectual too. Ye ask, and are not heard, because ye ask amiss. It is amiss, if it be not referred to his will, (Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean®7.) It is amiss, if it be not asked in faith, (Let not him that wavereth, think he shall receire anything of the Lord.) It is amiss, if prayer be discontinued, intermitted, done by fits, (Pray incessantly(') and it is so too, if it be not vehement; for Christ was in an agony in his prayer, and his sweat was as great drops of blood". Of prayers without these conditions, God says, When you spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes, and when you make many prayers, I will not hear you". Their prayer shall not only be ineffectual, but even their prayer shall be an abomination"; and not only an abomination to God, but destruction upon themselves; for, Their prayer shall be turned to sin78. And, when they shall not be heard for themselves, nobody else shall be heard for them: Though these three men, Noah, Job, and Daniel, stood for them, they should not deliver them?^; though the whole congregation consisted of saints, they shall not be heard for him, nay, they shall be forbidden to pray for him, forbidden to mention, or mean him in their prayers, as Jeremy was.
When God leaves you no way of reconciliation but prayer, and then lays these heavy and terrible conditions upon prayer, confess that though he be the God of your salvation, and do answer you, yet By terrible things doth the God of your saltation answer you. And consider this
69 Psalm cxi. 4.
64 Hos. vii. 14.
66 Jam. iv. 3.
67 Luke v. 12.
70 Luke xxii. 44. 71 Isaiah i. 15. 79 Prov. xxviii. 9. 73 Psalm cix. 7. 74 Ezek. xiv. 14.
again, as in manners, and in prayer, so in his other ordinance of preaching
Think with yourselves what God looks for from you, and what you give him in that exercise. Because God calls Preaching foolishness75, you take God at his word, and you think preaching a thing under you. Hence is it that you take so much liberty in censuring and comparing preacher and preacher, nay sermon and sermon from the same preacher ; as though we preached for wages, and as though coin were to be valued from the inscription merely, and the image, and the person, and not for the metal. You measure all by persons; and yet, Non erubescitis faciem sacerdotis, You respect not the person of the priest?, you give not so much reverence to God's ordinance, as he does. In no church of Christendom but ours, doth the preacher preach uncovered. And for all this good, and humble, and reverend example, (fit to be continued by us) cannot we keep you uncovered till the text be read. All the sermon is not God's word, but all the sermon is God's ordinance, and the text is certainly his word. There is no salvation but by faith, nor faith but by hearing, nor hearing but by preaching; and they that think meanliest of the keys of the church, and speak faintliest of the absolution of the church, will yet allow, that those keys lock, and unlock in preaching; that absolution is conferred, or withheld in preaching, that the proposing of the promises of the Gospel in preaching, is that binding and loosing on earth, which binds and looses in heaven. And then, though Christ had bid us, Preach the Gospel to every creature", yet, in his own great sermon in the mount, he had forbidden us, to give holy things to dogs, or to cast pearls before swine, lest they trample them, and turn and rend us78. So that if all those manifold and fearful judgments, which swell in every chapter, and blow in every verse, and thunder in every line of every book of the Bible, fall upon all them that come hither, as well if they turn and rend, that is, calumniate us, the person of the preacher, as if they trample upon the pearls, that is, undervalue the doctrine, and the ordinance itself; if his terrible judgments fall upon every uncharitable misinterpretation of that which is said here, and upon every irreverence in this place, and in this action; confess, that though he be the God of your salvation, and do answer you, yet, By terrible things doth the God of your salcation answer you. And confess it also, as in manners, and in prayers, and in preaching, so in the holy and blessed sacrament.
75 I Cor. i. 21.
77 Mar. xvi. 15.
76 Lam. iv, 16. 78 Matt. vii. 6.
This sacrament of the body and blood of our Saviour, Luther calls safely, venerabile et adorabile; for certainly, whatsoever that is which we see, that which we receive is to be adored; for we receive Christ. He is Res Sacramenti, The form, the essence, the substance, the soul of the sacrament; and Sacramentum sine re sacramenti, mors est", To take the body, and not the soul, the bread, and not Christ, is death. But he that feels Christ, in the receiving of the sacrament, and will not bend his knee, would scarce bend his knee, if he saw him. The first of that royal family, which thinks itself the greatest in Christendom at this day, the house of Austrich, had the first marks of their greatness, the empire, brought into that house, for a particular reverence done to the holy and blessed sacraments. What the bread and wine is, or what becomes of it, Damascen thinks impertinent to be inquired. He thinks he hath said enough ; (and so may we do) Migrat in substantiam animæ; There is the true transubstantiation, that when I have received it worthily, it becomes my very soul; that is, my soul grows up into a better state, and habitude by it, and I have the more soul for it, the more sanctified, the more deified soul by that sacrament.
Now this sacrament, which as it is ministered to us, is but a sacrament, but as it is offered to God, is a sacrifice too, is a fearful, a terrible thing. If the sacrifices of the law, the blood of goats and rams, were so, how fearful, how terrible, how reverential a thing is the blood of this immaculate Lamb, the Son of God? And though God do so abound in goodness towards us, Ut possint injuriata sacramenta prodesse recersis, (as St. Cyprian excellently expresses it) That that sacrament which we have injured and abused, received unworthily, or irreverently, at one time, may yet benefit us, and be the savour and seal of life unto us, at another, yet when you hear that terrible thunder break upon you,
80 Alvarez de Auxil. Epist. ad Phil. iii.
That the unworthy receiver eats and drinks his own damnation, that he makes Christ Jesus, who is the propitiation of all the world, his damnation ; and then, that not to have come to a severe examination of the conscience before, and to a sincere detestation of the sin, and to a formed, and fixed, and deliberate, and determinate resolution against that sin, at the receiving of the sacrament, (which, alas, how few do! Is there one that does it? There is scarce one) that this makes a man an unworthy receiver of the sacrament, that thus we make a mock of the Son of God, thus we tread the blood of the covenant under foot, and despite the spirit of graceps; and that for this, at the last day, we shall be ranked with Judas, and not only with Judas, as a negligent despiser, but with Judas, as an actual betrayer of the blood of Christ Jesus. Consider well, with what fearful conditions even this seal of your reconciliation is accompanied, and though you may not doubt, but that God, the God of your salvation does answer you, yet you must confess too, that it is by terrible things, that he does it. And, as it is so in matter of manners, and so in our prayers, and so in our preaching, and so in the sacrament, so is it also at the hour of our death, which is as far as we can pursue this meditation, (for, after death we can ask nothing at God's hands, and therefore God makes us no answer) and therefore with that conclusion of all, we shall conclude all, That by terrible things, the God of our saloation answers us, at the hour of our death.
Though death be but a sleep, yet it is a sleep that an earthquake cannot wake; and yet there is a trumpet that will, when that hand of God, that gathered dust to make these bodies, shall crumble these bodies into dust again, when that soul that evaporated itself in unnecessary disputations in this world, shall make such fearful and distempered conclusions, as to see God only by absence, (never to see him face to face) and to know God only by ignorance, (never to know him sicuti est, as he is) (for he is all mercy) and to possess immortality, and impossibility of dying only in a continual dying; when, as a cabinet whose key were lost, must be broken up, and torn in pieces, before the jewel that was laid up in it can be taken out; so thy body, (the cabinet of 81 i Cor. xi. 27, 29.
es Heb. x. 29.