« AnteriorContinuar »
of the number of those who can ascribe such have been no answer to have told the apostle, great and strange passages to chance, or satisfy. What! is not the church stone and wood as ny reason in assigning any other cause of well as other buildings? And is there any this, but the kindness of God himself to the such peculiar sanctity in this parcel of brick place of his worship; making the common and mortar ? And must God, who has influences of heaven to stop their course, and declared himself no respecter of persons, be pay a kind of homage to the rearing of so now made a respecter of places? No, this is sacred a structure. Though I must confess, the language of a more spiritualized and that David's being prohibited, and Herod per- refined piety than the apostles and primitivo mitted to build God a temple might seem Christians were acquainted with. And thus strange, did not the absoluteness of God's much for the first argument, brought to prove good pleasure satisfy all sober minds of the the different respect that God bears to things reasonableness of God's proceedings, though and places consecrated and set apart to his never so strange and unaccountable.
own worship, from what he bears to others. Add to all this, that the extraordinary 2. The second argument for the proof of manifestations of God's presence were still in the same assertion, shall be taken from those the sanctuary: the cloud, the Urim and Thum remarkable judgments shewn by God, upon mim, and the oracular answers of God, were the violators of things consecrated and set graces and prerogatives proper and peculiar to apart to holy uses. the sacredness of this place. These were the A coal, we know, snatched from the altar, dignities that made it (as it were) the pre once fired the nest of the eagle, the royal and sence-chamber of the Almighty, the room of commanding bird ; and so las sacrilege conaudience, where he declared that he would sumed the families of princes, broke sceptres, receive and answer petitions from all places and destroyed kingdoms. We read how the under heaven, and where he displayed his victorious Philistines were worsted by the royalty and glory. There was no parlour or captivated ark, which foraged their country dining-room in all the dwellings of Jacob, more than a conquering army; they were not that he vouchsafed the like privileges to. And able to cohabit with that holy thing; it was moreover, how full are God's expressions to like a plague in their bowels, and a curse in this purpose ! " Here have I placed my name, the midst of them ; so that they were forced and here will I dwell, for I have a delight to restore their prey, and to turn their therein."
triumphs into supplications. Poor Uzzah for But to evidence how different a respect but touching the ark, though out of care and God bears to things consecrated to his own zeal for its preservation, was struck dead with worship, from what he bears to all other a blow from heaven. He had no right to things, let that one eminent passage of Korah, touch it, and therefore his very zeal was a Dathan, and Abiram, be proof beyond all sin, and his care an usurpation ; nor could exception; in which the censers o those the purpose of his heart excuse the error of wretches, who, I am sure, could derive no his hand. Nay, in the promulgation of the sanctity to them from their own persons; yet Mosaic law, if so mucli as a brute beast upon this account, that they had been conse touched the mountain, the bow of vengeance erated by the offering incense in them, were, was ready, and it was to be struck through by God's special command, sequestered from with a dart, and to die a sacrifice for a fault all common use, and appointed to be beaten it could not understand. into broad plates, and fastened as a covering But to give some higher and clearer instances upon the altar, (Numb. xvi. 38,) “ The cen of the divine judgments upon sacrilegious pergers of these sinners against their own souls, In 1 Kings, xiv. 26, we find Shishak let them make broad plates for a covering of king of Egypt spoiling and robbing Solothe altar: for they offered them before the mon's temple, and that we may know what Lord, therefore they are hallowed.” It seems became of him, we must take notice that this one single use left such an indelible sacred- Josephus calls him Susac, and tells us that ness upon them, that neither the villainy of Herodotus calls him Sesostris ; and withol the persons, nor the impiety of the design, reports, that immediately after his return could be a sufficient reason to uuhallow and from this very expedition, such disastrous degrade them to the same common use that calamities befell his family, that he burnt two other vessels may be applied to. And the of his children himself; that his brother conargument holds equally good for the consecra- spired against him; and lastly, that his son, tion of places. The apostle would have no who succeeded him, was struck blind, yet not revelling, or junketting upon the altar, which so blind (in his understanding at least) but had been used, and by that use consecrated to that he saw the cause of all these mischiefs ; the celebration of a more spiritual and divine and therefore, to redeem his father's sacrilege, repast. “ Have ye not houses to eat and to gave more and richer things to temples, than drink in? or despise ye the church of God ?": his father had stolen from them : though (by says Saint Paul, (1 Cor. xi, 22.) It would the way) it may seem to be a strange method
of repairing an injury done to the true God, befall a general of an army. 2. That the by adorning the temples of the false. See the Jews prayed against him to God, and desired same sad effect of sacrilege in the great Nebu God to destroy Nicanor, for the injury done chadnezzar : he plunders the temple of God, to his sanctuary only, naming no sin else. and we find the fatal doom that afterwards And God ratified their prayers by the judgbefell him ; he lost his kingdom, and by a ment they brought down upon the head of new unheard of judgment, was driven from him, whom they prayed against. God stopped the society and converse of men, to table with his blasphemous mouth, and cut off his sacrithe beasts, and to graze with oxen ; the im- legious hand, and made them teach the world, piety and inhumanity of his sin making him what it was for the most potent sinner under à fitter companion for them, than for those to heaven to threaten the almighty God, espewhom religion is more natural than reason cially in his own house ; for so was the itself. And since it was his unhappiness to temple. transmit his sin, together with his kingdom, But now, lest some should puff at these to his son, while Belshazzar was quaffing in instances, as being such as were under a diffethe sacred vessels of the temple, which in his rent economy of religion, in which God was pride he sent for to abuse with his impious more tender of the shell and ceremonious part sensuality, he sees his fatal sentence writ by of his worship, and consequently not directly the finger of God in the very midst of his pertinent to ours ; therefore, to shew that all profane mirth. And he stays not long for the profanation, and invasion of things sacred, is execution of it, that very night losing his an offence against the eternal law of nature, kingdom and his life too. And that which and not against any positive institution after makes the story direct for our purpose is, that a time to expire, we need not go many nations all this comes upon him for profaning those off, nor many ages back, to see the vengeance sacred vessels. God himself tells us so much of God upon some families, raised upon the by the mouth of his prophet, in Daniel, v. 23, ruins of churches, and enriched with the spoils where this only sin is charged upon him, and of sacrilege, gilded with the name of reformaparticularly made the cause of his sudden and tion. And for the most part, so unhappy utter ruin.
have been the purchasers of church lands, These were violators of the first temple, that the world is not now to seek for an arguand those that profaned and abused the second ment from a long experience to convince it, sped no better. And for this, take for instance, that though in such purchases men have that first-born of sin and sacrilege, Antiochus; usually the cheapest penny-worths, yet they the story of whose profaning God's house have not always the best bargains. For the you may read in the first book of Maccabees, holy thing has stuck fast to their sides like chap. i. And you may read also at large what a fatal shaft, and the stone has, cried out of success he found after it, in the sixth chapter, the consecrated walls they have lived within, where the author tells us, that he never for a judgment upon the head of the sacrile prospered afterwards in any thing, but all his gious intruder; and heaven has heard the cry, designs were frustrated, his captains slain, his and made good the curse. So that when the armies defeated, and lastly, himself falls sick, heir of a blasted family has rose up and proand dies a miserable death. And (which is mised fair, and perhaps flourished for some most considerable as to the present business) time upon the stock of excellent parts and when all these evils befell him, his own con- great favour; yet at length a cross event has science tells him, that it was even for this, certainly met and stopped him in the career that he had most sacrilegiously pillaged and of his fortunes ; so that he has ever after invaded God's house, (1 Maccab. vi. 12, 13,) withered and declined, and in the end come "Now I remember," says he, “the evils I did to nothing, or to that which is worse. So at Jerusalem, how I took the vessels of gold certainly does that, which some call blind and silver : I perceive therefore, that for this superstition, take aim when it shoots a curse cause these evils are come upon me, and, be at the sacrilegious person. But I shall not hold, I perish for grief in a strange land." engage in the odious task of recounting the The sinner's conscience is for the most part families which this sin has blasted with a the best expositor of the mind of God, under curse. Only, I shall give one eminent instance any judgment or affliction,
in some persons who had sacrilegiously proTake another notable instance in Nicanor, cured the demolishing of some places consewho purposed and threatened to burn the crated to holy uses. temple, 1 Maccab. vii. 35. And a curse lights And for this (to shew the world that Papists upon him presently after : his great army is can commit sacrilege as freely as they can utterly ruined, he himself slain in it, and his object it to Protestants) it shall be in that head and right hand cut off, and hung up great cardinal and minister of state, Wolsey, before Jerusalem. Where two things are who obtained leave of Pope Clement the remarkable in the text. 1. That he himself Seventh to demolish forty religious houses ; was first slain, a thing that does not usually | which he did by the service of five men, to
whose conduct he committed the effecting of And thus much for the second argument, to that business ; every one of which came to a prove the different respect that God bears to sad and fatal end. For the pope himself was things consecrated to holy uses; namely, his ever after an unfortunate prince, Rome being signal judgments upon the sacrilegious violatwice taken and sacked in his reign, himself tors of them. taken prisoner, and at length dying a miser 3. I descend now to the third and last thing able death. Wolsey (as is known) incurred proposed for the proof of the first proposition, a premunire, forfeited his honour, éstato, and which is, to assign the ground and reason, life, which he ended, some say, by poison; but why God shews such a concern for these certainly in great calainity. And for the five things. Touching which we are to observe, men employed by him, two of them quar- (1.) Negatively, that it is no worth or sanctity relled, one of which was slain, and the other naturally inherent in the things themselves, hanged for it; the third drowned himself in a that either does or can procure them this well; the fourth (though rich) came at length esteem from God; for by nature all things to beg his bread; and the fifth was miserably have an equally common use. Nature freely stabbed to death at Dublin in Ireland. and indifferently opens the bosom of the uni
This was the tragical end of a knot of sacri verse to all mankind; and the very sanctum legious persons from highest to lowest. The sanctorum had originally no more sacredness consideration of which and the like passages, in it, than the valley of the son of Hinnom, one would think, should make men keep their or any other place in Judea. (2.) Positively fingers off from the church's patrimony, therefore, the sole ground and reason of this though not out of love to the church, (which different esteem vouchsafed by God to consefew men have,) yet at least out of love to crated things and places, is this, that he has themselves, which, I suppose, few want. the sole property of them.
Nor is that instance in one of another reli It is a known maxim, that “ in Deo sunt gion to be passed over, (so near it is to the jura omnia ;" and consequently, that he is the former passage of Nicanor,) of a commander proprietor of all things, by that grand and in the parliament's rebel army, who, coming transcendent right founded upon creation. to rifle and deface the cathedral at Litchfield, Yet notwithstanding he may be said to have solemnly at the head of his troops begged of a greater, because a sole property in some God to shew some remarkable token of his things, for that he permits not the use of approbation or dislike of the work they were them to men, to whom yet he has granted the going about. Immediately after which, look- free use of all other things. Now this property ing out at a window, he was shot in the fore- may be founded upon a double ground. head by a deaf and dumb man. And this First, God's own fixing upon, and instituwas on Saint Chadd's day, the name of which tion of, a place or thing to his peculiar use. saint that church bore, being dedicated to When he shall say to the sons of men, as he God in memory of the same. Where we see, spoke to Adam concerning the forbidden fruit, that as he asked of God a sign, so God gave of all things and places that I have enriched him one, signing him in the forehead, and the universe with, you may freely make use that with such a mark, as he is like to be for your own occasions; but as for this spot known by to all posterity.
of ground, this person, this thing, I have There is nothing that the united voice of seleeted and appropriated, I have enclosed all history proclaims so loud as the certain un it to myself and my own use; and I will failing curse that has pursued and overtook endure no sharer, no rival, or companion in sacrilege. Make a catalogue of all the prosper it: he that invades them, usurps, and shall ous sacrilegious persons that have been from bear the guilt of his usurpation. Now, upon the beginning of the world to this day, and I this account, the gates of Sion, and the tribe believe they will come within a very narrow of Levi, became God's property. He laid his compass, and be repeated much sooner than hand upon them, and said, These are the alphabet.
mine." Religion claims a great interest in the world, Secondly, The other ground of God's sole even as great as its object, God, and the souls property in any thing or place, is the gift, or of men. And since God has resolved not to rather the return of it made by man to God ; alter the course of nature, and upon principles by which act he relinquishes and delivers of nature, religion will 'scarce be supported back to God all his right to the use of that without the encouragement of the ministers thing, which before had been freely granted of it; Providence, where it loves a nation, him by God. After which donation, there is concerns itself to own and assert the interest an absolute change and alienation made of the of religion, by blasting the spoilers of religious property of the thing given, and that as to persons and places. Many have gaped at the the use of it too ; which being so alienated, a church revenues, but, before they could swal man has no more to do with it, than with a low them, have had their mouths stopt in the thing bought with another's money, or got churchyard.
with the sweat of another's brow.
And this is the ground of God's sole pro- with God in person really, and to all the pur, perty in things, persons, and places, now poses of giving and receiving, though not under the Gospel. "Meu, by free gift, consign visibly; for natural reason will evince, that over a place to the divine worship, and there God will receive testimonies of honour from by have no more right to apply it to another his creatures ; amongst which, the homage of use, than they have to make use of another offerings, and the parting with a right, is a man’s goods. He that has devoted himself to very great one. And where a gift is suitable the service of God in the Christian priesthood, to the person to whom it is offered, and no has given himself to God, and so can no more refusal of it testified, silence in that case dispose of himself in another employment, (even amongst those who transact visibly and than he can dispose of a thing that he has corporally with one another) is, by the general sold or freely given away. Now in passing a voice of reason, reputed an acceptance. And thing away to another by deed of gift, two therefore, much more ought we to conclude things are required,
that God accepts of a thing suitable for him 1. A surrender on the giver's part, of all to receive, and for us to give, where he does the property and right he has in the thing not declare his refusal and disallowance of it. given. And to the making of a thing or place But, 2. I add farther, that we may transact sacred, this surrender of it, by its right owner, with God in the person of his and Christ's is so necessary, that all the rites of consecra- substitute, the bishop, to whom the deed of tion used upon a place against the owner's gift ought, and uses to be delivered by the will, and without his giving up his property, owner of the thing given, in a formal instrumake not that place sacred, forasmuch as the ment, signed, sealed, and legally attested by property of it is not hereby altered ; and witnesses, wherein he resigns up all his right therefore says the canonist, “Qui sine volun- and property in the thing to be consecrated. tate Domini consecrat, revera desecrat." The And the bishop is as really vicarius Christi to like judgment passed that learned Bishop receive this from us in Christ's behalf, as the Synesius upon a place so consecrated. Oud Levitical priest was vicarius Dei to the Jews, ιερον ουδε μεν όσιον ηγούμαι. «I account it | to manage all transactions between God and not,” says he," for any holy thing."
them. For we must know, that consecration makes These two things therefore concurring, the not a place sacred, any more than coronation gift of the owner, and God's acceptance of it, makes a king, but only solemnly declares it either immediately by himself, which we
It is the gift of the owner of it to God, rationally presume, or mediately by the hands which makes it to be solely God's, and conse of the bishop, which is visibly done before us, quently sacred; after which, every violation is that which vests
the sole property of a thing of it is as really sacrilege, as to conspire against or place in God. If it be now asked, of what the king is treason before the solemnity of his use then is consecration, if a thing were sacred coronation. And moreover, as consecration before it? I answer, Of very much; even as makes not a thing sacred without the owner's much as coronation to a king, which confers gift, so the owner's gift of itself alone makes no royal authority upon him, but by so a thing sacred, without the ceremonies of con solemn a declaration of it, imprints a deeper secration ; for we know that tithes and lands awe and reverence of it in the people's minds, given to God are never, and plate, vestments, a thing surely of no small moment. And, 2. and other sacred utensils, are seldom conse The bishop's solemn benediction and prayers crated : yet certain it is, that after the dona- to God for a blessing upon those who shall tion of them to the church, it is as really seek him in such sacred places, cannot but be sacrilege to steal or alienate them from those supposed a direct and most effectual means to sacred uses, to which they were dedicated by procure a blessing from God upon those the donors, as it is to pull down a church, or persons who shall address themselves to him turn it into a stable.
there, as they ought to do. And surely, this 2. As in order to the passing away a thing also vouches the great reason of the episcopal by gift, there is required a surrender of all consecration. Add to this, in the third place, right to it on his part that gives, so there is that all who ever had any awful sense of relirequired also an acceptation of it on his part gion and religious matters (whether Jews or to whom it is given. For giving being a rela- Christians, or even heathens themselves) have tive action, (and so requiring a correlative to ever used solemn dedications and consecrations answer it,) giving on one part transfers no of things set apart, and designed for divine property, unless there be an accepting on the worship, which surely could never have been other; for as volenti non fit injuria, so in this so universally practised, had not right reason case nolenti non fit beneficium.
dictated the high expediency and great use of And if it be now asked, how God can be such practices. said to accept what we give, since we are not Eusebius, (the earliest church historian,) in able to transact with him in person? To this the tenth book of his Ecclesiastical History, I answer,-1. That we may and do converse as also in the Life of Constantine, speaks of
these consecrations of churches, as of things bears a different respect to places set apart and generally in use, and withal sets down those consecrated to his worship, from what he actions particularly, of which they consisted, bears to all other places designed to the uses styling them for PETTEIS éxxa nolas Seouous, “laws of common life: and also shewn the reason or customs of the church becoming God." why he does so. I proceed now to the other What the Greek and Latin churches used to proposition, which is, That God prefers the do, may be seen in their pontificals, containing worship paid him in such places, above that the set forms for these consecrations ; though, which is offered him in any other places indeed, (for these six or seven last centuries,) whatsoever. And that for these reasons,full of many tedious, superfluous, and ridicu 1. Because such places are naturally apt to Jous fopperies ; setting aside all which, if also excite a greater reverence and devotion in the our liturgy had a set form for the consecra discharge of divine service, than places of tion of places, as it has of persons, perhaps it
The place properly reminds a would be nevertheless perfect. Now from man of the business of the place, and strikes what has been above discoursed of the ground a kind of awe into the thoughts, when they of God's sole property in things set apart for reflect upon that great and sacred Majesty his service, we come at length to see how all they use to treat and converse with there. things given to the church, whether houses, They find the same holy consternation upon or lands, or tithes, belong to churchmen. themselves that Jacob did at his consecrated They are but usufructuarii, and have only the Bethel, which he called “the gate of heaven;" use of these things, the property and fee and if such places are so, then surely a daily remaining wholly in God; and consequently expectation at the gate is the readiest way to the alienating of them is a robbing of God, gain admittance into the house. (Mal. iii. 8, 9,) “Ye are cursed with a curse, It has been the advice of some spiritual for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation, persons, that such as were able should set in tithes and offerings.” If it was God that apart some certain place in their dwellings was robbed, it was God also that was the for private devotions only, which if they conowner of what was took away in the robbery : stantly performed there, and nothing else, even our own common law speaks as much; their very entrance into it would tell them for' so says our Magna Charta, in the first what they were to do in it, and quickly make chapter, “ Concessimus Deo - quod ecclesia their chamber-thoughts, their table-thoughts, Anglicana libera erit,” &c. Upon which and their jolly, worldly, but much more their words, that great lawyer in his Institutes sinful thoughts and purposes, fly out of their comments thus: “When any thing is granted hearts. for God, it is deemed in law to be granted to For is there any man (whose heart has not God; and whatsoever is granted to the church shook off all sense of what is sacred) who finds for his honour, and the maintenance of his himself no otherwise affected, when he enters service, is granted for and to God.”
into a church, than when he enters into his The same also appears from those forms of parlour or chamber? If he does, for aught I expression, in which the donation of sacred know, he is fitter to be there always than in things usually ran. As “ Deo omnipotenti a church.. hac præsente charta donavimus,” with the The mind of man, even in spirituals, acts like. But most undeniably is this proved by with a corporeal dependence, and so is helped this one argument: That in case a bishop or hindered in its operations, according to the should commit treason or felony, and thereby different quality of external objects that incur forfeit his estate with his life, yet the lands into the senses ; and perhaps sometimes the of his bishopric become not forfeit, but re- sight of the altar, and those decent preparamain still in the church, and pass entire to his tions for the work of devotion, may compose successor; which sufficiently shews that they and recover the wandering mind much more were none of his.
effectually than a sermon, or a rational diso! It being therefore thus proved, that God is course. For these things in a manner preach the sole proprietor of all sacred things or to the eye, when the ear is dull, and will not places ; I suppose his peculiar property of hear, and the eye dictates to the innagivation, them is an abundantly pregnant reason of and that at last moves the affections. Aud if that different respect that he bears to them. these little impulses set the great wheels of For is not the meum, and the separate pro- devotion on work, the largeness and height perty of a thing, the great cause of its endear of that shall not at all be prejudiced by the ment amongst all mankind? Does any one smallness of its occasion. If the fire burns respect a common, as much as he does his bright and vigorously, it is no matter by what garden? or the gold that lies in the bowels of means it was at first kindled; there is the a mine, as much as that which he has in his same force, and the same refreshing virtue in purse ?
it, kindled by a spark from a flint, as if it I have now finished the first proposition were kindled by a beam from the sun. drawn from the words ; namely, that God I am far from thinking that these external