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ON THE THANKSGIVING DAY,
DECEMBER 2, 1697.
RIGHT HONORABLE THE LORD HAVERSHAM.
I OPFER this discourse my honoured lord to your perusal, in confidence that the subject and design of it will be so far grateful to your lordship, as in some degree to atone for the imperfections of the management. I believe it will not offend against your lordship's very accurate judgment of things, that I have not been so swayed by an authority which hath signified much in our age, as to represent the natural state of man as a state of war; which either must signify man in his original constitution to have been a very ill-natured creature, or must signify his nature to be less ancient than himself. For I cannot doubt, but the author of that maxim would have disdained their way of speaking, who by nature mean vice; or to have been guilty of so pious a thought, that God at first made man any better thing than we find him. I shall the less passionately lament my infelicity, in losing the good opinion of men of that sentiment, if I stand right in your lordship's: not knowing any of your rank and figure in the world, with whom I count it a greater honour to agree in judgment, or do less fear to disagree.
In matters of secular concernment, it becomes me not to profess any judgment at all, besides the public; unto which in things of that nature, every private man's ought to be, and is, professedly resigned. Yet within that compass, notwithstanding the just esteem your lordship hath of the noble endowments, which do then illustriously shine in the military profession when there is a necessity of their being reduced to practice; I apprehend, that otherwise, your lordship hath no more grateful thoughts of war than 1, nor more ungrateful of the necessary means of preserving peace. That which is the reproach of human nature, could never originally belong to it; nor can any thing more expose its ignominious depravation, than it should ever be necessary the sword should dispute right, and the longest decide it.
In the matters of religion, which is every man's business, and whose sphere as it is higher must be proportionably wider and more comprehensive, I hope it is your lordship's constant care to add unto clearness and rectitude of thought, the pleasantness of taste; and that you apprehend it to consist, not more in a scheme of notions, than of vital principles; and that your love to it proceeds from hence, that you relish it and feel you live by it. You are hereby fortified against the reproach that attends it from their contempt of it, who are every day assaulting heaven, and would have the war not ended, but only transferred thitherward. That which though some vent, and others admire, as wit, even paganism itself has condemned as foolishness. Your lordship is in no more danger to be altered hereby from your chosen course, than a man in his health and senses, by satyrs, against eating and drinking. I reckon your lordship is so taken up with the great things of religion, as to be less taken with the adventitious things men have thought fit lo affix to it. I do not more emulate your lordship in any thing than a disdain of bigotry, nor more honour any thing I discern in you than true catholicism. And recounting what things and persons do truly belong to a church, I believe your lordship is not professedly of a larger church, as counting it too large for you, but too narrow; and thao you affect not to be of a self-distinguished party. Nor, besides the opportunity of avowing the just honour and obligations I have to your lordship and your noble consort, with my sincere concern for your hopeful and numerous offspring, did any thing more invite this address to your lordship, than the agreeableness of such your sentiments, to the mind and spirit of,
My most honoured lord,
PSALM XXIX. 1.
THE LORD WILL BLESS HIS PEOPLE WITH PEACE.
You so generally know the occasion of this our solemn | his people with peace ; i.e. he will vouchsafe this blessing assembly at this time, that none can be in doubt concern- to his own people in the fittest season, as it must be undering the suitableness of this portion of Scripture, for our stood; this adds so much the more grateful and pleasant present consideration. Our business is to celebrate the relish to the mercy we are this day to acknowledge. It Divine goodness, in preserving our king abroad, and re- cannot but do so with right minds, unto which nothing is Storing him home in safety, after he had been the happy more agreeable than to desire and covet such favour, as instrument of bringing about that peace, which puts a pe-God shows to his own people; and to be made glad with riod to a long continued, wasting, and dubious war; under his inheritance, (Ps. cvi. 4, 5.) from an apprehension that which we, and all Europe, have groaned these divers years. there must be somewhat very peculiar in such mercy, as And if we find the favourable workings of Providence to God vouchsafes to his own, to a people peculiar and select. concur and fall in with a divine word, pointing them to severed and set apart for himself from the rest of men God's own people; as this for instance, The Lord will bless 'Tis truc indeed that peace, abstractly considered, is neither the appropriate nor the constant privilege of such of the horror of war; which we may do, by viewing it in a people; they neither alone enjoy it, nor at all times, when its causes, in itself, and in its dismal consequences, whereit is brought about, even for them, they have other parta- with it is wont to be attended. Consider it in its causes, kers: but yet, such favours of Providence as are of larger and they are principally these two, the wickedness of men, extent, and reach to many besides God's own people, have and the just vengeance of God ihereupon. These two a more peculiar, benign aspect upon them; and are attend-concurring, and falling in together, must be understood 10 ed, with reference to them; with such consequences, as be the causes of so great a calamity among men in this wherein others, without being made of this people of his, world; and I shall only consider these two in their comare not sharers with them. Some intimation there is of plication, and not speak to them distinctly and separately. this in this psalm, which the title speaks, a Psalm of Da- Very plain it is, that war is a mark of the apostacy, and vid ; and which some think to refer unto the wars mana- stigmatizes man as fallen from God, in a degenerate revoltged by him in his time with the Moabites, signified by the ed state; it is the horrid issue of men's having sorsaken wilderness of Kadesh; and the Syrians, signified by the God, and of their being abandoned by him to the hurry ot cedars of Lebanon, of whom he speaks in the prophetic their own furious lusts and passions; the natural and the style, as if, by the terrible and amazing appearances of penal effect of their having severed themselves and broke God's power against them, they were thunderstruck, like loose from the Divine government. From whence are the trees of a forest, or as the hinds that are wont to inha- wars? Are they not from your lusts? Jam. iv. 1.- God bit amongst them. And so it is concluded, and shut up most justly punishes men's injustice, not by infusing mawith this epiphonema in the end of the psalm; The Lord lignity, which he needs not, into their minds and natures; will give strength to his people, the Lord will bless his and which it is impossible he can be the author of, whose people with peace, i. e. he is in war their strength, and very nature itself is goodness, and purity, and love; but Their felicity in peace; in war, he is the author of all that having forsaken him, rebelled against him, disclaimed him power wherewith they are enabled to oppose and overcome as their Ruler, refused any longer to be subject to him, they potent enemies; and in peace, he is their truly felicitating are forsaken of him, and left to take vengeance for it on good, and makes them by his own vouchsafed presence a one another; of which there cannot be a greater instance, truly blessed people.
than that when controversies do arise between men and It is the latter of these, peace, unto which the present men, between nation and nation, kingdom and kingdom, occasion confines us. And concerning that, we might in the one people and another, it is presently to be decided by a
1. Place, note from the text,that wheresoever it is brought bloody sword. This speaks a monstrous degeneracy in about, God is the author of it, “God will bless his people the intellectual world, and from the original rectitude that with peace.” That title which the Scripture gives him, ihe belongs to the nature of man, which in his primitive state God of peace, with the many expressions of like import, did stand in a temperament of reason and love. That there wherewith it abounds, can leave them in no doubt, con- should be differences about meum and tuum in a creature cerning the Divine influence and agency in bringing about of that constitution is itself a horrid thing; but then that the grateful intervals of peace, after desolating bloody wars, such differences are to be determined only by violence, who have any reverence for the Sacred Oracles. And in that presently they must hereupon run into war! Good deed, to insist upon such a subject as this, in a case so God! what an indication is this, that reason, wisdom, jusplain, so acknowledged amongst men that believe the Bi- tice, and love, are fled from this earth! And it speaks reble, were to reproach the auditory, as if it were made up bellion against God in the highest kind, 'tis a subversion of sceptics and atheists, or of them that did not believe this of the most fundamental law of his kingdom over the inworld was made by God, or that it was made by him only telligent world ; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with by some casual stroke and without design ; that he cared all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all not for his reasonable, intelligent creatures, when he had thy might, and thy neighbour as thyself. made them, what became of them, nor did at all concern 'Tis impossible there should be any such thing as war himself in their most considerable concernment. I shall in the world, but by the violation of this most fundamental not therefore insist upon this, which seems rather slid in, divine law, the principal and most important thing that and supposed in the text, or taken for granted; for among this government does as it were consist in over reasonable a people in visible relation and subjection to God, it had creatures, their loving him above all, and one another as been as great an incongruity industriously to assert and themselves. This law observed must make this earth anprove such a thing, as it would be, by an elaborate dis- other heayen ; this law violated and broken, makes it ancourse to prove that there is a sun in the firmament unto other hell. Men being fallen from God, and having lost men that continually partake and enjoy his light and influ- their acquaintance with him, and all relish of divine things, ences; and to whose sense, the vicissitudes and distinc-, think to repair their loss out of this sensible world, whereot tions of day and night by his presence and absence are no man thinks he hath enough; desire of more blinds their brought under constant notice every twenty-four hours. I eyes, that they cannot judge of right and wrong. Hence shall therefore, I say, pass on to what appears more direct- every man's cause is right in his own eyes; appetite is the ly to be the design of the text, and that seems to be two- only measure they judge by, and power (whatsoever of it fold: first, to represent to us in general the great blessing of any one can grasp the instrument by which they execute peace, wherein, when God sees it fit, he is pleased to make their perverse judgment. A dismal spectacle and subject his own people partakers with others; secondly, because it of contemplation to the inhabitants of the purer and more is not without design that it is said, he will bless his people peaceful regions ! To behold a divine offspring, the sons with peace, unto whom 'tis plain, this alone is not an ap- of God, now transformed into sons of the earth, and tearing propriate privilege; it seems further designed to intimate, in pieces one another, for what some possess and others and couch in the concurrence and concomitancy of such covet! Yea, and to a calm uninterested spectator on our things, as, superadded to peace, will make it a complete own globe, this can be no grateful prospect, to view the blessing. “The Lord will bless his people with peace.” history of all times, and nations, and take notice how full He will give them peace so and upon such terms, and with it is of such tragedy: countries from age to age made Acel. such concomitants and consequences, that to them it shall damas, fields of blood, on this account of extending or prove a real and a full blessing. These two things, there-confining empire and dominion ; of invading another's or fore, I intend to insist upon-1. To show you how valua- defending one's own: but hereupon it is not strange when ble a good and (in the large and common sense) a blessing a world of intelligent, reasonable creatures are thus gone peace is, as it stands in opposition to bloody and desolat- off from God, and in rebellion against him in the most ing wars. And then-2. I shall show you, what additions fundamental part of his government, that he suffers them and concomitants are necessary to make it a complete to be the executioners of his just wrath upon one another. blessing, such as may be appropriate and peculiar to God's And if we thus look upon war, first, in this its complicated own people, and so make use of the whole.
causes, it is the opprobrium, the reproach of human nature, 1. I shall show you briefly, how valuable a good peace of intelligent reasonable creatures. But next look upon it is in itself, as it stands opposed unto bloody and destructive in itself, and what is it but the destruction of human lives, wars. And this will best be seen, by stating and viewing of creatures made after the image of God? of whom he it in that opposition, and by representing to you somewhat has so high a value, and whose lives, even for that very reason, he is pleased to fence and secure by a severe law; , In speaking to this I shall do these two things. 1. MenWhoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be tion the requisites themselves-1. Show their requisiteness, shed; for in the image of God made he man. But here is or show what is requisite to make eternal peace a real and a formed design of destroying human lives by multitudes, peculiar blessing. And then show you upon what account lives of creatures bearing the image of God. And by how the addition and concomitancy of such things are requisite. much the more necessary this is in many cases, so much 1. I shall show you the things that are requisite. the more grievous and calamitous a thing it is, that when 1. Such peace, as we have hitherto been speaking of, is to cut off and destroy by multitudes so precious things as then truly a blessing, when there is, in conjunction with it, human lives is tragical and horrid, not to do it is so much a very copious effusion of the Spirit of God; in such a worse! Yea, that war itself is become an art, and that the concomitancy, peace will make a people a blessed people. valour and skill which belong to it are laudable excellen When, after such a calamitous dispensation was over and cies, is all aggravation of the sadness of this case. at an end, as we read of Ezek. xxxix. wherein, ver. 23.
And if we do consider the consequences and effects God is said to hide his face, and many of his people were which do ensue upon such war, how full of horror and carried into captivity, and many fell by the sword; it frightfulness are they, and those most of all, that are least comes at length to this, he will no more hide his face, or of all thought on, and that lie most out of view; for besides cover it with so ireful and gloomy aspects and appearthat property is gone, and no man knows what to call his ances that it cannot be comfortably beheld. 'Tis for this own, laws lose their force, magistrates their authority and very reason, because he pours forth his Spirit upon the reverence, civil government is disobeyed and despised, com- whole house of Israel, as it is in ver. 29. of that chapter. mon order is violated and turned into confusion, families Pouring forth signifies a copious communication; and if torn in pieces, countries laid waste and desolate, towns the Spirit of God be copiously communicated, the best of and cities sacked, ravaged, and made ruinous heaps; be- blessings are in great abundance contained in it, which sides all this (I say the sacred rites and mysteries of reli- will infer, or countervail whatsoever is valuable or needful gion are neglected and profaned, its holy solemnities inter- besides, to make the state of such a people a blessed state. rupted, worshipping assemblies are broken up. Men have 2. It will be so, when the Gospel of peace has its free little opportunity left them to mind their great concerns course, and a large spread in the world. When, in conwith God, and for another world; care for immortal souls, junction with beating of swords into ploughshares, and when it is most necessary, is thrown out of doors, and rea- spears into pruning-hooks, the law goes forth of Zion, and sonable creatures, that should be employed in adoring and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; and nations shall worshipping their great Creator, the God of their lives, are say, Come let us go up to the house of the Lord, and he employed in designing the mutual destruction of one ano- will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his statutes ; ther's lives; and it may be that is least considered which as in that of Micah, iv. 2, 3. And, carries the most of horror in it, that multitudes are hurried 3. When, according to the dictate of Divine wisdom, down to perdition, neither dreaded by themselves, nor ap-kings do reign (as Prov. viii. 15.) and princes decree jusprehended by the destroyer; souls are passing in shoals tice; when God's people have judges, as at the first, couninto eternity, they not considering it who are sent, nor they sellors as at the beginning, Isa. 1. 26. able men, men of that sent them! And what sport does this make for devils, truth, fearing God and hating covetousness, Exod. xviii. 21. those envious apostate spirits, that first drew men into a When he is pleased to set kings on the throne, that scatter like apostacy; that when God had given this earth to the the wicked with their eyes, and so to establish the throne children of men, assigning to themselves a worse abode in righteousness; when there is a design, driven by those amidst infernal darkness and flames, they should be tear-that bear the civil sword, the sword of justice, to be a terror ing one another in pieces about this their portion under to evil-doers, but a praise to them that do well; so as it may the sun, making God's bounty to them the occasion of their be said upon this account, they are the ministers of God doing all manner of violence to one another! That the for good, 'whom he has been pleased to set in such stations. prince of the apostacy, the usurping God of this world, 4. When God gives pastors after his own heart that are should have the opportunity of beholding man, sometime able, and do make it their business, to feed his people with by divine grant the lord of it, now its slave and his captive knowledge and understanding. When he inspirits such to by it! Led by him at his will into whatsoever is most re-cry mightily, to warn men off from sin, when watchmen, pugnant to the will and the very nature of his Maker. set over his people, are faithful in the business of their That whereas he was at first made after God's own image, station, at once both to save their people and themselves, a God-like creature resembling his Maker, especially in spi- from having their blood required at the hands of either: this rituality and love: he now more resembles in sensuality will make a peaceful state, a happy state: it will contribute beasts, and in malignity devils, and both by an inordinate a greal deal towards it. And again when hereupon, in the love of this world; the friendship whereof, and a mind 5. Place, wickedness languishes, the lusts of men droop carnalized by it, is enmity against God, Jam. iv. 4.-Rom. and wither. There is some visible restraint, if there be not viii. 7.) and whereof also, because every man thinks his a universal mortification of such fruits of the flesh, as own share too little, he becomes any one's enemy that hath those that are spoken of Gal. v. 19. Adultery, fornication, more of it than himself.
uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, And thus have devils the pleasure of beholding men, by variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envy. this very gift and expression of God's love and kindness ings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like, that to them iransformed into enmity, and hatred of himself, and are inconsistent with a share in the inheritance of the kingone another; forsaken of him, and destroying each other, dom of God, as it after follows. This does much to the and hastening once more into their horrid society, that as making a peaceful state of things a blessed state; it takes they were accomplices with them in their first rebellion, away much of the occasion of further controversy between they may be partakers and associates with them in wo God and such a people. But, and torment. The most dismal part of the story, is that! 6. When there is a very great diffusion of a holy new which lies most out of sight. Now let all this be con- nature, which carries the matter higher, and is a great adsidered and put together, and surely peace is a valuable dition, though in certain conjunction with the former; as thing, it speaks man in some degree returned to himself, it is when the lasts and works of the flesh do cease to be and in a right mind, when he can agree and be content to reigning and rampant among them who live under the let another live quiet and unmolested by him, one man Gospel, through the victorious and more powerful operation another man, and one nation another nation. Thus far of the Spirit of grace breathing in it. For then by the does peace appear a blessing apart and by itself, a valuable influence of the same Spirit, not only such vicious inclinagood, and according to the common notion and estimate, lions are plucked up by the roots, as certainly withstand a it may be called a blessing wherewith God blesses his people people's félicity; but such positive principles are implanted, in common with others. But we are further to consider, as tend to promote it. Yet since this conjunction is not
2. What things are requisite to make this a real and a constant, but such insolences of wickedness, as more directcomplete blessing, capable of being appropriated unto ly tend to make a people miserable, may be repressed by God's own peculiar people; which seems also to be in inferior causes. I therefore more expressly add, that then tended here. The Lord will bless his people with peace. peace may be reckoned a certain and a full blessing, when
with it we behold a divine offspring continually rising up, I 1. That there is such a thing as a special blessing, very of men appearing to be born of God, and to have received distinguishable from such blessings as are merely common. a God-like nature, apt to do good, and become blessings to We read of one Jabez, 1 Chron. iv. 9, 10. said to be more the world. When there is a rising generation of such, honourable than his brethren; and somewhat very remarknot proselyted to this or that party, but to real substantial | able (as we are to reckon, when to the Divine wisdom it godliness and Christianity. When multitudes are thus | was thought fit to be inserted amidst a genealogical disturned unto the Lord, when there are numerous conver- course) is further said of him, viz. that he called to the God sions, a new creation is springing up in visible and multi- of Israel, saying, O that thou wouldst bless me indeed, plied instances, so as that holiness comes to be both an &c. and 'tis added, God granted what he requested. It extensive and illustrious thing. When multitudes come seems, besides what goes under the common notion of to give reputation to serious religion, when it is no longer blessing, he reckoned there was somewhat more peculiar, a reproach to be a visible fearer of God, because generally which he calls blessing indeed. There is a known Hemen are so. When it is looked upon as no fashionable braism in that expression, what we read, bless me indeed, thing to be a despiser of God and heaven, and to breathe out is, bless me in blessing me; 9. d. let me have a blessing contempt of the Divine power, that gave us breath. And, within a blessing; let me have that blessing whereof the
7. When, hereupon, the divine government obtains and other is but a cortex, the outside; let me have that blesstakes place in the minds and consciences of men, when his ing that is wrapt up and enclosed in the external blessing. authority is owned with reverential submission. Then God And because it is said, And God granted his request, we does bless a people, when his fear spreads far and near; have reason to understand it was somewhat very peculiar God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear that God vouchsafed unto him; and that account which him; as in that Ps. lxvii, the latter end. And again, some give us, has a look that way, that God vouchsafed
8. When there is a manifest power and prevalency of him somewhat more extraordinary in the kind of mental divine love amongst men, that bear the same name of and intellectual endowments: for we are otherwise inChristians, when that peace of God rules in their hearts, formed, that this Jabez became a noted doctor among the unto which they are all called in one body. When they Jews, and that the city, called after his name, was thereobservedly keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of upon afterwards the residence of such as were most learned peace, when they have peace one towards another so as in their laws, Vatabl. apud Critic. That is to be blessed that it may be seen that they are all the sons of peace, the indeed, to have these things conferred, that do reach the children of the same Father who has conveyed it into them, mind and affect the inner man; to be blessed with spiritual as part of that divine nature which he communicates to the blessings from the heavenly places, as in that Eph. i. 3. regenerate seed; when there is a natural propensity to one There is a spiritual sort of blessing, that may be enclosed another, that they can no more violate and tear that vital in the external blessing; and particularly in this of peace, bond of love and peace that is among them than they can which while it is common to the people of God with other endure to tear their own flesh, or pluck out their own eyes. men, is itself not common.. When peace among Christians appears to be a connatural 2. 'I further note, that the things I have mentioned to thing, not the product of conveniency and prudential con- you, they are of that special kind, they are either immedisiderations only, but a nature which none can more endure ate spiritual blessings, or subservient to such ; whereupon to counteract than to offer violence to themselves; a thing now we may, from several considerations, evince to you, which nature admits not, whose laws never allow it to act that without them such an external good, as this of peace, against itself. And,
is not a complete blessing. Lastly, When, upon all this, God appears to be recon 1. It is no argument of God's special favour. The best ciled unto such a people; for in his favour is life. When and most valuable blessings are from the Evdokia Denparos, all these things do concur, as so many indications of his the good pleasure of his will, Eph. i. 3, 4, 5. Other men being at peace with them, i.e. that he has entirely forgiven may enjoy external benefits, may both prosper in war and them all former offences; that their sins and iniquities he flourish in peace, as well and often more than God's own remembers no more; and these concur with such things people. You read of a time, wherein the whole earth is as partly make, and partly argue them, the objects of his said to be at rest and quiet, Isa. xiv. 7. Therefore mere delight, that he has written his law in their hearts, he has peace is no mark of special divine favour, and so is not, put his Spirit into them, he has made them a company of abstractly considered, a complete blessing, not a self-desiGod-like creatures like himself, whose very nature is love; rable thing. they are his living resemblances in that very respect, ex- 2. Men are not made by it the better men. They may pressing herein his virtues, who has called them out of enjoy peace, and being carnal-minded men before, may darkness into his own glorious and marvellous light. still continue so, as great strangers to God as they were, as Hereupon such a people may reckon themselves secure of vain and sensual, as profligate and licentious, as useless in God's own presence, he is in the midst of them, and his the world, as mischievous,every way as ill men as ever. And, glory ceases to hover, becomes with them a fixed thing, 1 3. They may, by mere external peace, become so much settles its station, as not about to discontinne or remove; the worse men. That may be an occasion to them of their their land may now be called, The land of Emmanuel, and growing worse and worse, the prosperity of fools (i. e. of bears the inscription, God with us. The tabernacle of God wicked men) slays and destroys them, Prov. i. 32. 'Tis is with them, and he is resolved to dwell with them, and an observation that runs through the course of time, that be their God, and avow them before all the world for his as wars at length beget an enforced peace, so peace infers peculiar people. After the many things that do concur free trade and commerce, and that plenty, and that pride together, in an inferior kind, as the concomitants of a merely and wantonness; so these run us back in an easy but external peace, as that their sons grow up as plants, their unhappy circle, to be as we were, in war again. And if daughters as so many polished corner-stones, that join that prove not the present or the speedy consequent, that together the walls of a palace, that their garners be full, ensues which is worse than war; unless God vouchsafe their sheep numerous, their oxen strong, and that there be that other sort of blessing, which will influence and better no complaining in their streets;. after all these things, it is men's minds. Vice springs up in the more fattened soil, subjoined, Yea, happy is the people whose God is the Lord. men's lusts will soon prove more oppressive tyrants than All the fore-mentioned things alone, will never make a bless they can have freed themselves from, by the justest and ing worthy of a people peculiar to God. But when it can most prosperous war; and will subdue them to a far viler be said that the Lord is their God, they are a happy people and more ignoble servitude. An ingenious writer of those indeed, Ps. cxliv. 12, 15. Such as these are the things re- affairs observes, that the former Scipioa opened the way to quisite to make peace a complete blessing. But now we are, the Roman power, the latter to their luxury; their virtue
2. To show you the requisiteness of the concurrence and languished, and they were conquered by their own vices, concomitancy of such things, to the mentioned purpose ; who before could conquer the world. That noted moralor how it may appear, that such things as these are neces- ist says, Infirmi est animi non posse pati divitias, 'lis a sary to complete this blessing, or to make it a truly valua weak mind that cannot bear a prosperous condition; but ble or a special blessing. In order hereto note,
where are there minds strong enough to bear it, if they be a Vell. Patercul.
not blest from above with somewhat better than that pros- | pray God he may meet with no ungrateful returns, and perity itself?
that none may be so ill minded as to grudge at power so 4. Men may, notwithstanding mere external peace, be lodged as to save us, who were less concerned at its being as miserable in this and in the other world, as if they had lodged where it could only be designed to destroy us. In Dever known it; and much more, if by it they have been the mean time, it might excite us to the higher pitches of the more wicked. I beseech you consider, are they a thankfulness to Almighty God, for this blessing of the preblessed people, or is that a blessed man, between whom and sent peace, if we did consider-both what it hath cost, and eternal misery there is but a breath? He may but breathe --whereto it is improvable. But the former consideration another breath, and be in the midst of flames; is he happy I shall not insist upon, lest any should make an undue this moment, that may be as miserable as any devil the use of it; and the latter I leave to the following head, next? Those things can only be complete blessings to which we are next to proceed to, viz. any, that are inseparable ones, and that will make them for Secondly, To show what matter of supplication remains ever blessed. For me to have but such a blessing as does to us, upon the latter account. That is, with reference to not make me blessed; what an unblest blessing is this ! A such things as are yet wanting to make this blessing of philosopher can tell you, blessedness cannot be a thing se- peace a complete blessing, and without which it cannot be parable from myself; not a xwpisóv ti, Arist. It can much understood to be such; but we may be left at last a most less be such a thing as may leave me miserable to all eter- | miserable people, and so much the more miserable, by how nity, least of all what may make me so, by degenerating much the higher favours we have to account for, that not into a curse, as Malachi ii. 2. Therefore these are demon-being improved must have been thrown away upon us. strations, that mere external peace, without such additions The mercies included in the peace, will be unimproved as you have heard of, can never be a complete blessing, nor and lost, without the mentioned additions. Whereof all such as can be understood vouchsafed to the people of the several heads that were recited belong to one, viz. thal God as their ultimate and consummative felicity. Ii must of spiritual blessing. That therefore, in the general, we in the mean time be acknowledged, that as a people may have to pray for, that God may be said to bless us indeed, belong to God externally, more than another people; and to bless us in blessing us; viz. that he would bless us with may sometime be externally more reformed than at other spiritual blessings, in the heavenlies (i. e. in heavenly times, so peace, with other external good things, may there things or from the heavenly places) in Christ Jesus, as upon be afforded them, as less expressive marks of God's Eph. i. 3. Let us, I pray you, learn to distinguish between farour, and approbation of their more regular course: and a self-desirable good, that in its own nature is such, so imby the tenor of God's particular covenant with the people mutably and invariably, that it can never degenerate, or of Israel, might more certainly be expected so to be. Yet cease to be such ; and what is only such by accident, and this is a state wherein it is not reasonable or safe for any in some circumstances may be much otherwise. Spiritual finally to acquiesce.
good, that of the mind and spirit, and which makes that I therefore now come to the promised use, which will better, especially that which accompanies salvation, (Heb. correspond to the two general heads I have been discours-vi. 9.) that runs into eternity, and goes with us into the ing of: First, to let you see what cause of thanksgiving other world, is of the former sort. External good is but we have in reference to the former, the blessing of peace res media, capable of being to us sometimes good and abstractly considered, and Secondly, what sort of suppli- sometimes evil as the case may alter. Blessings of this cation we have in reference to the latter, the additions that kind may become curses, Mal. ii. 2. I will curse your are requisite to make it a complete blessing.
blessings, yea I have cursed them already. A man's table 1. As to the former. Since peace is so valuable a thing may become his spare, and that which was for his welfare, considered apart, as you have heard it is; this points out a trap, Ps. Ixix, 22. Merely external blessings are curses, to us the matter of thanksgiving, for which this day is ap- when they become the fuel of lusts, when they animate pointed, that God has preserved our king, amidst so innu- men unto contests against Heaven, rebellions against the merable dangers abroad ; that he has brought him home Divine government; when, like Jeshurun, men wax fat to us in safety ; that he has made him the instrument of by them, and kick against heaven, Deut. xxxii. This we are that peace that we find is at length brought about, wherein always liable to till spiritual blessings intermingle with our he is returned to us a greater conqueror then if he had other blessings; and nothing should more convince the routed and destroyed never so potent armies of our enemies world, that the kindest and most benign part of the divine in the field. We have reason to understand the matter so. government lies in immediate influences on the minds of By prevailing in war, he had only conquered by force; by men; and that consequently their own felicity depends prevailing for peace, he has conquered by wisdom and thereon. Let all things that can be imagined concur in goodness. By prevailing in war, he had only conquered the kind of external good, and they can never make him the bodily power of our enemies, or their baser part; by a happy man, that has an ill mind; he will always be his prevailing for peace, he has conquered their minds. By own hell, and carry that about with him wheresoever he prevailing in war, he had brought about the good only of goes; he will be a constant spring and fountain of misery one side; by prevailing for peace, he has brought about the to himself, misery and he cannot be separated from one real benefit of both sides, a far more diffusive blessing. another: There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God; By prevailing in war, he had conquered enemies; by pre- but he will be always a troubled sea, whose waters cast vailing for peace, he has conquered enmity itself. By pre- forth mire and dirt, Isa. lvii. 20, 21. The philosophy vailing in war, he had overcome other men ; but in pre- of pagans would have made them ashamed to place vailing for peace, considering his martial spirit, and his their felicity in any thing without, or foreign to themhigh provocations, he has done a far greater thing, he has selves. conquered himself, whom none ever conquered before. But we are Christians, and shall we not much more be Besides what this great blessing of peace, generally consi- ashamed to take other, or even opposite, measures of blessdered, contains in itself, we ought to amplify it to our edness, to those which are given us by our Divine Master! selves; being brought about by such means, wherein we To be poor in spirit, upon just accounts mourners, meek, have so particular a concern. This ought to add with us a hungry and thirsty after righteousness, merciful, pure in very grateful relish to it, for it is a glory to our nation that heart, peace-makers, to submit to be persecuted for rightGod has set a prince on the English throne that could sig- eousness sake, these are his characters of a blessed man; nify so much to the world; the beams of that glory God and he places that blessedness itself in congenerous things, nath cast on him, reflect and shine upon his people; to be Matt. v, 3, 4, 5, &c. Let us learn from him, and collect made the head among other nations, and not the tail, God that nothing but wickedness can make us miserable. hath in his word taught us not to count it an inconsider-/ What an overflowing deluge have we in view ! tending to able thing. And it is our more peculiar glory that our subvert our religion and our civil state together! nor have king is renowed, not by throwing death and destruction we another effectual remedy in view, but the Spirit of God, every where round about him, but by 'spreading the bene- if he will vouchsafe to pour it forth. The great enemy of fits included in peace through the neighbouring nations; mankind is come in upon us like a flood, and only the and is returned to us, leaving the rest of Europe only to Spirit of the Lord can lift up a standard against him, Isa. lament that they all live not under his government. I lix, 19. The Spirit of the Lord would be to us as a puri