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to this assertion of the Psalmist the church of Rome can by no means agree : they understand this matter much better than the Psalmist did, namely, That, besides God, there are in heaven innumerable angels and saints, in whom we are to repose great trust and confidence; and to whom also we are to address folemn prayers and supplications, not only for temporal good things, but for the pardon of our sins, for the increase of our graces, and for eternal life: that there are in heaven particular advocates and patrons for all exigencies and occafions, 2gainst all sorts of dangers and diseases, for all graces and virtues; and, in a word, for all temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings; to whom we may apply ourselves, without troubling God and our blessed Saviour, who alfo is God blessed for evermore, by presuming upon every occasion to make our immediate addresses to him. For, as they would make us believe, though Abraham was ig-norant of it, and David knew it not, the blessed spirits above, both angels and saints, do not only interceed with God for us for all sorts of blessings, but we may make direct and immediate addresses to them to bestow these blessings upon us : for so they do in the church of Rome; as is evident, beyond all denial, from several of their prayers in their most publick and authentick liturgies.
They would indeed fain palliate this matter, by tel. ling is, that by these direct and immediate addresses to angels and saints to beltow grace and eternal life, upon them, they mean no more, but only to pray to them that they would be pleased to interceed with God for these blellings to be bestowed upon them by their mediation. But if they mean no more, why do they say more than they mean? why do they use such expressions as, to the common sense and understanding of mankind, do fignify a great deal more than they say they mean ; such expreslions as they themselves do acknowledge, if they be understood according to the most obvious sense of the words, would render them guilty of fat idolatry ; especially when they know, that they are charged with idola try upon this account; and since to clear theinselves of it they will not alter their prayers, they justly lie under the suspicion of it?
· And yet admitting what they say in this matter to be true, and that by these expressions in their prayers they intend no more, but the solemn invocation of angels and saints, that they would interceed with God to beltow these blessings upon them for the sake of their merits, and upon their mediation : yet this surely is a great deal too much, and cannot be done without a high intrenchment upon the office of the only Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jefus. But let them not deceive themselves, God is not mocked. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and he will not give his glory to another.
I have not yet instanced in the grofleft part of their superstition, not to say downright idolatry, in this kind; I mean in their extravagant worship of the blessed virgin and mother of our Lord; whom they blasphemously call the Queen of heaven ; and whom, by a new style, unknown to the scriptures and primitive antiquity, they think to dignify with the modish title of our Lady; as if that could be any addition of honcur to her, whom the angel declared to be blelled among women : who, if she know any thing of the follies of her worihippers here below, with what disdain and indignation do we think she hears those infinite prayers that are made to her, and that facrilegious worship which is given her in that church, and which makes both pages of their religion ; and which for the frequency of it, both in their publick and private devotions, is very much beyond what they give to God and Christ; as if there were none in heaven but she, nor any thing upon earth to be worshipped in comparison of her image?
Nay, so far have they carried this extravagant folly, · and how much farther they would have carried it, had
not the reformation given a check to it, God only knows; so far, I say, have they proceeded in this folly, as, in that famous book of their devotions, called our Lady's psalter, not only to apply to her some part of this psalm out of which I have taken my text, beginning it thus, How good is God to Ifrael, to them that worship his blessed mother? but they have likewise profanely burlesqued, I cannot afford it a better term, this whole book of psalms, applying to her almost the highest things that are there laid concerning God and our blessed Saviour. Hear, Kk 2
heavens, heavens, and give ear, 0 earth; and be ye horribly astonished, to see the belt and wisest religion in the world tranfformed into superstition and folly ; and to see the most learned persons in that communion set themselves in good earnest to justify all these follies and absurdities by a grave and groundless pretence to infallibility.
3. and lastly, This shews us how necessary the favour of God is to every man's happiness : and there is but one way to gain his friendship and favour, by becoming holy and good, as he is. Then may we rejoice and glory in God, as the Psalmist here does, and say, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. A wicked man dreads God above all things in the world, and he has great reason to do so: For he is 2104 a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with him : 'the foolish, shall not stand in his fight, he hateth all the workers of iniquity. When by sin we depart from God, we forsake our own happiness : Salvation is far from the wicked, says David, Pfal.cxix. 155.; and again, a little after the text, They that are far from thee Thall perish. But it is good for me to draw near to God. Now, by holiness and goodness wc draw near to him, who alone can make us happy.
It is certainly the common interest of mankind there should be a God, because we cannot possibly be happy without him : but then it is no man's interest to be wicked, because thereby we make him our enemy in whose favour is life, and upon whom all our hopes of happiness do depend.
To conclude: If we would have God for our happi. ness, we must be sure to make him our friend ; and then we may promise to ourselves all those advantages which the friendship of so great and powerful a patron can give us. And there is but one way to establish a firm friendship between God and us; and that is, by doing his will, and living in obedience to his laws: Ye are my friends, (saith our blessed Lord), if ye do whatsoever I command you. This is the love of God, (faith St. John), that we keep his commandments ; and to love God is the way to be made partakers of those glorious things which God hath prepared for them that love him ; fuch as eye hath not seen, 110r ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man.
Which God of his infinite goodness grant we may all at lalt be made partakers of, for his mercies fake in Jesus Cl, rist. To whom, with thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, dominion, and power, both now and for ever. Amen.
S E R M O N XLI." A thanksgiving-sermon for the late victory
Preached before the King and Queen at Whitehall,
October 27. 1692.
JE R. ix. 23. 24. Thus faith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wif
dom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness,
judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these I things I delight, faith the Lord. ..
Hese words are a message from God sent by his
Prophet to the people of the Jews, who trusted d in their own wisdom, and might, and riches, for their safety and preservation from that destruction which, in the former part of this chapter, God had threatened to bring upon them by the King of Babylon. To take them off from this vain confidence is this message sent to them, Thus faith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in bis wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might ; let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that be understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, faith ihe Lord.
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In the handling of these words, I shall abstract from the particular occasion of them; and only consider the general truth contained in them: which I shall do under these two heads.
1. What we are not to glory in : Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might ; let not the rich man glory in his riches.
2. What it is that is matter of true glory : But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord 'which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
I. What we are not to glory in. The text instanceth in three things, which are the great idols of mankind, and in which they are very apt to pride themselves, and to place their confidence, namely, wisdom, and might, and riches. I shall consider these feverally, and thew how little reason there is to glory in any of them.
1. Let not the wife man glory in his wisdom. This may comprehend both human knowledge, and likewise prudence in the management of affairs. We will suppose both these to be intended here by the name of wifdom : Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; that is, neither in the largeness and compass of his knowledge and undersanding, nor in his skill and dexterity in the contrivance and conduct of human affairs; and that for these two reasons.
1. Because the highest pitch of human knowledge and wisdom is very imperfect. .
2. Because when knowledge and wisdom are, with much difficulty, in any competent measure attained, how casily are they lost ? "
ift, The highest pitch of human knowledge and wisdom is very imperfect. Our ignorance doth vastly exceed our knowledge at the best. Wisdom in any tolerable degree is difficult to be attained ; but perfection in it utterly to be despaired of. Where is there to be found fo Itrong and found a head, as hath no soft place; so perfect, so clear an understanding, as hath no faw, no dark water in it? How hard a matter is it to be truly wise ? and yet there are so many pretenders to wisdom, as would almost tempt a man to think that nothing is easier. Men do frequently murmur and repine at the