« AnteriorContinuar »
as correctives of pride and vanity; and if they do their cure, they are converted into instruments of good by the great power of the Divine grace : but if the spirit of the man grows impudent and hardened against the shame, that which commonly follows is the worst string of the whip, a direct consignation to a reprobate spirit. 3. Other sins there are, for the chastising of which Christ takes the whip into his own hand; and there is much need; when sins are the customs of a nation, and marked with no exterior disadvantage, or have such circumstances of encouragement that they are unapt to disquiet a conscience, or make our beds uneasy, till the pillows be softened with penitential showers. In both these cases, the condition of a sinner is sad and miserable. For “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;" his hand is heavy, and his sword is sharp, and
pierces to the dividing the marrow and the bones :" and he that considers the infinite distance between God and us, must tremble, when he remembers that he is to feel the issues of that anger, which he is not certain whether or no it will destroy him infinitely and eternally. 4. But if the whip be given into our hands, that we become executioners of the Divine wrath, it is sometimes worse ; for we seldom strike ourselves for emendation, but add sin to sin, till we perish miserably and inevitably. God scourges us often into repentance; but when a sin is the whip of another sin, the rod is put into our hands, who, like blind men, strike with a rude and undiscerning hand, and, because we love the punishment, do it without intermission or choice, and have no end but ruin.
5. When the holy Jesus had whipped the merchants in the temple, they took away all the instruments of their sin. For a judgment is usually the commencement of repentance : love is the last of graces, and seldom at the beginning of a new life, but is reserved to the perfections and ripeness of a Christian. We begin in fear : “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: when he smote them, then they turned, and inquired early after God b.” And afterwards the impresses of fear continue like a hedge of thorns about us, to restrain our dissolutions within the awfulness of the Divine
Psalm lxxviii, 34.
majesty, that it may preserve what was from the same principle begun. This principle of their emendation was from God, and therefore innocent and holy; and the very purpose of Divine threatenings is, that upon them, as upon one of the great hinges, the piety of the greatest part of men should turn : and the effect was answerable ; but so are not the actions of all those, who follow this precedent in the tract of the letter. For indeed there have been some reformations, which have been so like this, that the greatest alteration which hath been made, was, that they carried all things out of the temple, the money, and the tables, and the sacrifice; and the temple itself went at last. But these men's scourge is to follow after; and Christ, the Prince of the catholic church, will provide one of his own contexture, more severe than the stripes which Heliodorus felt from the infliction of the exterminating angel. But the Holy Spirit of God, by making provision against such a reformation, hath prophetically declared the aptnesses which are in pretences of religious alterations to degenerate into sacrilegious desires : “ Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?!? In this case there is no amendment; only one sin resigns to another, and the person still remains under its power and the same dominion.
O eternal Jesu, thou bright image of thy Father's glories,
whose light did shine to all the world, when thy heart was inflamed with zeal and love of God and of religion, let a coal from thine altar, fanned with the wings of the holy Dove, kindle in my soul such holy flames, that I may be zealous of thy honour and glory, forward in religious duties, earnest in their pursuit, prudent in their managing, ingenuous in my purposes, making my religion to serve no end but of thy glories, and the obtaining of thy promises : and so sanctify my soul and my body, that I may be a holy temple, fit and prepared for the inhabitation of thy ever-blessed Spirit, whom grant that I may never grieve by admitting any impure thing to desecrate the place, and unballow the courts of his abode ; but give me a pure soul in a chaste and healthful body, a spirit full of holy simplicity, and designs of great ingenuity, and perfect religion, that I may intend what thou commandest, and may with proper instruments prosecute what I so intend, and by thy aids may obtain the end of my labours, the rewards of obedience and holy living, even the society and inheritance of Jesus, in the participation of the joys of thy temple, where thou dwellest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, О eternal Jesus. Amen.
c Rom. ii. 22.
Of the Religion of Holy Places.
1. The holy Jesus brought a Divine warrant for his zeal. The selling sacrifices, and the exchange of money, and every lay employment, did violence and dishonour to the temple, which was hallowed to ecclesiastical ministries, and set apart for offices of religion, for the use of holy things; for it was God's house : and so is every house by public designation separate for prayer or other uses of religion ; it is God's house. My house.” God had a propriety in it, and had set his mark on it, even his own name. And therefore it was, in the Jews' idiom of speech, called “the mountain of the Lord's house,” and “ the house of the Lord” by David frequently: God had put his name into all places appointed for solemn worship : “ In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and bless thee.” For God, who was never visible to mortal eye, was pleased to make himself presential by substitution of his name; that is, in certain places he hath appointed that his name shall be called upon, and, by promising and imparting such blessings, which he hath made consequent to the invocation of his name, hath made such places to be a certain determination of some special manner of his presence. For God's name is not a distinct thing from himself, not an idea, and it cannot be put
a Exod. xx. 24.
into a place in literal signification ; the expression is to be resolved into some other sense : God's name is that whereby he is known, by which he is invocated, that which is the most immediate publication of his essence, nearer than which we cannot go unto him : and because God is essentially present in all places, when he makes himself present in one place more than another, it cannot be understood to any other purpose, but that in such places he gives special blessings and graces, or that in those places he appoints his name, that is, himself, specially to be invocated.
2. So that, when God “puts his name” in any place by a special manner, it signifies that there himself is in that manner : but, in separate and hallowed places, God hath expressed that he puts his name with a purpose it should be called upon; therefore, in plain signification, it is thus : In consecrated places God himself is present to be invoked ; that is, there he is most delighted to hear the prayers we make unto him. For all the expressions of Scripture, of « God's house, the tabernacle of God, God's dwellings, putting his name there, his sanctuary," are resolved into that saying of God to Solomon, who prayed that he would hear the prayers of necessitous people in that place: God granting the request, expressed it thus, “I have sanctified the house which thou hast built;" that is, the house which thou hast designed for my worship, I have designed for your blessing; what you have dedicated, 1 have accepted; what you have consecrated, I have hallowed; I have taken it to the same purpose to which your desires and designation pretended it in your first purposes and expense. So that, since the purpose of man, in separating places of worship, is, that thither, by order and with convenience, and in communities of men, God may be worshipped and prayed unto, God having declared that he accepts of such separate places to the same purposes, says, that there he will be called upon, that such places shall be places of advantage to our devotions in respect of human order, and Divine acceptance and benediction.
3. Now these are therefore God's houses, because they were given by men, and accepted by God, for the service of
b 1 Kings, ix. 3.
God and the offices of religion. And this is not the effect or result of any distinct covenant God hath made with man, in any period of the world; but it is merely a favour of God, either hearing the prayer of dedication, or complying with human order or necessities. For there is nothing in the covenant of Moses' law, that, by virtue of special stipulation, makes the assignment of a house for the service of God to be proper to Moses' rite. Not only because God bad memorials and determinations of this manner of his presence before Moses' law, as at Bethel, where Jacob laid the first stone of the church, (nothing but a stone was God's memorial,) and the beginning and first rudiments of a temple; but also because after Moses' law was given, as long as the nation was ambulatory, so were their places and instruments of religion : and although the ark was not confined to a place till Solomon's time, yet God was pleased in this manner to confine himself to the ark; and in all places, wherever his name was put, even in synagogues, and oratories, and threshing-floors, when they were hallowed with an altar and religion, thither God came, that is, there he heard them pray, and answered and blessed accordingly, still in proportion to that degree of religion which was put upon them. And those places, when they had once entertained religion, grew separate and sacred for ever. For therefore David bought the threshing-floor of Araunah, that it might never return to common use any more : for it had been no trouble or inconvenience to Araunah to have used his floor for one solemnity; but he offered to give it, and David resolved to buy it, because it must, of necessity, be aliened from common uses, to which it could never return any more when once it had been the instrument of a religious solemnity: and yet this was no part of Moses' law, that every place of a temporary sacrifice should be “ holy for ever.” David had no guide in this but right reason, and the religion of all the world. For such things which were great instruments of public ends, and things of highest use, were also, in all societies of men, of greatest honour, and immured by reverence and the security
c Nec fortuitum spernere cespitem
.- Hor. lib. ii. od. 15.