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shall find his interest in the next, conveyed and sealed to him in temporal blessings here.
If Plato found and acknowledged a happiness in that, quod natus homo, that he was born a man, and not a beast, (Lactantius adds in Plato's behalf, when he cites that place out of him, quod natus vir, that he was born a man, and not a woman) if he found a farther happiness, quod Græcus, that he was born a Grecian, and not a barbarian; quod Atheniensis, that he was born in the town which was the receptacle, and dwelling of all wisdom; and quod tempore Socratis, and that he was born in Socrates' time, that so he might have a good example, as well as a good rule for his life as all we owe to God an acknowledgement of blessedness, that we are born in a Christian church, in a reformed church, in a monarchy, in a monarchy composed of monarchies, and in the time of such a monarch, as is a peacemaker, and a peace-preserver both at home and abroad; so let all them who are born of nobility, or borne up to nobility upon the two fair wings of merit and of favour, all that are born to riches, and born up and born out by their riches, all whom their industry, and wisdom, and usefulness to the state, hath or may any way prefer, take heed of separating the author and the means; of separating God and the king, in the ways of favour; of separating God and their riches, in the ways of purchase; of separating God and their wisdom, in the ways of preferment; but let them always discern, and always acknowledge, the hand of God, the author, in directing and prospering the hand of his instrument in all these temporal things, and then, these temporal things are truly blessings unto them, and they are truly blessed in them.
This was our first consideration, our first branch in this part, that temporal things were seals and testimonies of blessedness; the second is, to what particular evidence this seal is annexed in this text, upon what things this blessedness is placed here; which are all involved in this one little particle, this monosyllable so, blessed are they that are so; that is, so, as a prayer is made in the three former verses, that they might be. Now as the maledictions which were threatened to David, were presented to him by the prophet in three forms, of war, of famine, of pestilence; so
these blessings which are comprised in those three verses, may well be reduced to three things contrary to those three maledictions; to the blessing of peace, contrary to David's war, that there may be no invasion; to the blessing of plenty, contrary to David's famine, that our barns may abound with all sorts of corn; to the blessing of health, contrary to David's destroying sickness, that our sons may grow up as plants in their youth.
For the first temporal blessing of peace, we may consider the loveliness, the amiableness of that, if we look upon the horror and ghastliness of war: either in effigy, in that picture of war, which is drawn in every leaf of our own chronicles, in the blood of so many princes, and noble families, or if we look upon war itself, at that distance where it cannot hurt us, as God had formerly kindled it amongst our neighbours, and as he hath transferred it now to remoter nations, whilst we enjoy yet a Goshen in the midst of all those Egypts. In all cities, disorderly and facinorous men, covet to draw themselves into the skirts and suburbs of those cities, that so they may be the nearer the spoil, which they make upon passengers. In all kingdoms that border upon other kingdoms, and in islands which have no other border but the sea, particular men, who by dwelling in those skirts and borders, may make their profit of spoil, delight in hostility, and have an adverseness and detestation of peace: but it is not so within: they who till the earth, and breed up cattle, and employ their industry upon God's creatures, according to God's ordinance, feel the benefit and apprehend the sweetness, and pray for the continuance of peace.
This is the blessing, in which God so very often expresses his gracious purpose upon his people, that he would give them peace; and peace with plenty; O that my people had hearkened unto me! says God, I would soon have humbled their enemies, (there is their peace) and I would have fed them with the fat of wheat, and with the honey out of the rock', and there is their plenty. Persons who are preferred for service in the war, prove often suspicious to the prince. Joab's confidence in his own merit and service, made him insolent towards the king, and the king jealous of him. But no man was more suddenly nor more safely preferred than Joseph,
'Psalm LXXXi. 13, and ult.
for his counsel to resist penury, and to preserve plenty and abundance within the land. See Basil in an homily which he made in a time of dearth and drought, in which he expresses himself with as much elegancy, as any where, (and every where I think with as much as any man) where he says, there was in the sky, Tristis seceritas et ipsa puritate molesta, That the air was the worse for being so good, and the fouler for being so fair; and where he inverts the words of our Saviour, Messis magna, operarii pauci, says Christ1o, Here is a great harvest, but few workmen; but Operarii multi, messis parra, says Basil, Here are workmen enough, but no harvest to gather, in that homily; he notes a barrenness in that which used to be fruitful, and a fruitfulness in that which used to be barren; terra sterilis et aurum fœcundum, he prophesied of our times; when not only so many families have left the country for the city, in their persons, but have brought their lands into the city, they have brought all their evidences into scriveners' shops, and changed all their renewing of leases every seven years, into renewing of bonds every six months: they have taken a way to inflict a barrenness upon land, and to extort a fruitfulness from gold by usury. Monsters may be got by unnatural mixtures, but there is no race, no propagation of monsters: money may be raised by this kind of use; but, non hærebit, it is the sweat of other men, and it will not stick to thine heir. Nay, commonly it brings not that outward blessing of plenty with it; for, for the most part, we see no men live more penuriously, more sordidly, than these men do.
The third of these temporal blessings is health, without which both the other are no more to any man, than the rainbow was to him who was ready to drown; Quid mihi, si peream ego? says he, What am I the better, that God hath past his word, and set to his seal in the heavens, that he will drown the world no more, if I be drowned myself? What is all the peace of the world to me, if I have the rebellions and earthquakes of shaking and burning fevers in my body? What is all the plenty of the world to me, if I have a languishing consumption in my blood, and in my marrow? The heathens had a goddess, to whom they attributed the care of the body, deam Carnam: and we that are Christians,
10 Luke x. 2.
acknowledge, that God's first care of man, was his body, he made that first; and his last care is reserved for the body too, at the resurrection, which is principally for the benefit of the body. There is a care belongs to the health, and comeliness of the body. When the Romans cononized Pallorem and Febrim, Paleness and Fevers, and made them gods, they would as fain have made them devils, if they durst; they worshipped them only, because they stood in fear of them. Sickness is a sword of God's and health is his blessing. For when Hezekias had assurance enough that he should recover and live, yet he had still a sense of misery, in that he should not have a perfect state of health. What shall I say, says he, I shall walk weakly all my years, in the bitterness of my soul. All temporal blessings are insipid and tasteless, without health.
Now the third branch of this part, is the other in quibus, not the things, but the persons, in whom these three blessings are here placed: and it is beatus populus, when this blessedness reaches to all, dilates itself over all. When David places blessedness in one particular man, as he does in the beginning of the first Psalm, Beatus vir, Blessed is that man, there he pronounces that man blessed, If he neither walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. If he do not all, walk, and stand, and sit in the presence and fear of God, he is not blessed. So, if these temporal blessings fall not upon all, in their proportions, the people is not blessed. The city may be blessed in the increase of access; and the lawyer may be blessed in the increase of suits; and the merchant may be blessed in the increase of means of getting, if he be come to get as well by taking, as by trading; but if all be not blessed, the people is not blessed: yea, if these temporal blessings reach not to the prince himself, the people is not blessed. For in favorabilibus princeps è populo, is a good rule in the law; in things beneficial, the king is one of the people. When God says by David, Let all the people bless the Lord, God does not exempt kings from that duty; and when God says by him too, God shall bless all the people, God does not exempt, not exclude kings from that benefit; and therefore where such things as conduce to the being, and the well-being, to the substance and state, to the ceremony and majesty of the prince, be
11 Isaiah xxxviii. 15.
not cheerfully supplied, and seasonably administered, there that blessing is not fully fallen upon them, blessed is that people that are so; for the people are not so, if the prince be not so.
Nay, the people are not blessed, if these blessings be not permanent; for, it is not only they that are alive now, that are the people; but the people is the succession. If we could imagine a blessing of health without permanency, we might call an intermitting ague, a good day in a fever, health. If we could imagine a blessing of plenty without permanency, we might call a full stomach, and a surfeit, though in a time of dearth, plenty. If we could imagine a blessing of peace without permanency, we might call a night's sleep, though in the midst of an army, peace; but it is only provision for the permanency and continuance, that makes these blessings blessings. To think of, to provide against famine, and sickness, and war, that is the blessing of plenty, and health, and peace. One of Christ's principal titles was, that he was Princeps Pacis and yet this Prince of Peace says, Non ceni mittere pacem, I came not to bring you peace, not such a peace as should bring them security against all war. If a ship take fire, though in the midst of the sea, it consumes sooner, and more irrecoverably, than a thatched house upon land: if God cast a firebrand of war, upon a state accustomed to peace, it burns the more desperately, by their former security.
But here in our text we have a religious king, David, that first prays for these blessings, (for the three former verses are a prayer) and then praises God in the acknowledgement of them; for this text is an acclamatory, a gratulatory glorifying of God for them. And when these two meet in the consideration of temporal blessings, a religious care for them, a religious confessing of them, prayer to God for the getting, praise to God for the having, Blessed is that people, that is, head and members, prince and subjects, present and future people, that are so; so blessed, so thankful for their blessings.
We come now, Ad dextram dextræ, to the right blessedness, in the right sense and interpretation of these words, to spiritual blessedness, to the blessedness of the soul. Estne Deo cura de bobus? is the apostle's question, and his answer is pregnantly
13 1 Cor. ix. 9.
12 Isaiah ix. 6.