or religion. "Silver and gold have I none," and therefore I can give you none: but I wish you well; how will that appear? Why thus, "Such as I have, I will give you; rise up and walk." I cannot give you God, but I can give you counsel; I cannot relieve your need, but I can relieve your sadness; I cannot cure you, but I can comfort you; I cannot take away your poverty, but I can ease your spirit; and "God accepts us" (saith the Apostle)" according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." Only as our desires are great, and our spirits are willing, so we shall find ways to make supply of our want of ability and expressed liberality.

Et labor ingenium misero dedit, et sua quemque
Advigilare sibi jussit fortuna premendo.

What the poor man's need will make him do, that also the good man's charity will; it will find out ways and artificers of relief, in kind or in value; in comfort or in prayers; in doing it himself or procuring others.

Πάντα δὲ ταῦτ ̓ ἐδίδαξε πικρὴ πάντολμος ἀνάγκη.

The necessity of our fortune, and the willingness of our spirits will do all this; all that it can, and something that it cannot: "You have relieved the saints" (saith St. Paul) "according to your power, yea, and beyond your power;" only let us be careful in all instances, that we yield not to the weakness of the flesh, nor listen to its fair pretences; for the flesh can do more than it says, we can do more than we think we can; and if we do some violence to the flesh, to our affairs, and to the circumstances of our fortune, for the interest of our spirit, we shall make our flesh useful, and the spirit strong; the flesh and its weakness shall no more be an objection, but shall comply, and co-operate, and serve all the necessities of the spirit.




Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully.
Jer. xlviii. 10. ver. first part.

CHRIST'S kingdom,-being in order to the kingdom of his Father, which shall be manifest at the day of judgment,— must therefore be spiritual; because then it is, that all things must become spiritual, not only by way of eminency, but by entire constitution and perfect change of natures. Men shall be like angels, and angels shall be comprehended in the lap of spiritual and eternal felicities; the soul shall not understand by material phantasms, neither be served by the provisions of the body, but the body itself shall become spiritual, and the eye shall see intellectual objects, and the mouth shall feed upon hymns and glorifications of God; the belly shall be then made satisfied by the fulness of righteousness, and the tongue shall speak nothing but praises, and the propositions of a celestial wisdom; the motion shall be the swiftness of an angel, and it shall be clothed with white as with a garment; holiness is the sun, and righteousness is the moon in that region; our society shall be choirs of singers, and our conversation wonder; contemplation shall be our food, and love shall be " the wine of elect souls." And as to every natural appetite there is now proportioned an object, crass, material, unsatisfying, and allayed with sorrow and uneasiness: so there be new capacities and equal objects; the desires shall be fruition, and the appetite shall not suppose want, but a faculty of delight, and an immeasurable complacency: the will and the understanding, love and wonder, joys every day and the same for ever: this shall be their state who shall be accounted worthy of the resurrection to this life; where the body shall be a partner, but no servant; where it shall have no work of its own, but it shall rejoice with the soul; where the soul shall rule without resistance or an enemy; and we shall be fitted to enjoy God,

who is the Lord and Father of spirits. In this world, we see it is quite contrary: we long for perishing meat, and fill our stomachs with corruption; we look after white and red, and the weaker beauties of the night; we are passionate after rings and seals, and enraged at the breaking of a crystal; we delight in the society of fools and weak persons; we laugh at sin and contrive mischiefs; and the body rebels against the soul and carries the cause against all its just pretences; and our soul itself is, above half of it, earth and stone, in its affections and distempers; our hearts are hard and inflexible to the softer whispers of mercy and compassion, having no loves for any thing but strange flesh, and heaps of money, and popular noises, for misery and folly; and therefore we are a huge way off from the kingdom of God, whose excellences, whose designs, whose ends, whose constitution, is spiritual and holy, and separate and sublime and perfect. Now between these two states of natural flesh, and heavenly spirit, that is, the powers of darkness, and the regions of light, the miseries of man, and the perfections of God; the imperfection of nature where we stand by our creation, and supervening follies, and that state of felicities, whither we are designed by the mercies of God,-there is a middle state," the kingdom of grace," wrought for us by our Mediator, the man Christ Jesus, who came to perfect the virtue of religion, and the designs of God, and to reform our nature, and to make it possible for us to come to that spiritual state, where all felicity does dwell. The religion that Christ taught, is a spiritual religion; it designs, (so far as this state can permit) to make us spiritual; that is, so as the Spirit be the prevailing ingredient. God must now be worshipped in spirit, and not only so, but with a fervent spirit; and though God in all religions did seize upon the spirit, and even under Moses' law did, by the shadow of the ceremony, require the substantial worship, and, by cutting off the flesh, intended the circumcision of the heart; yet because they were to mind the outward action, it took off much from the intention and activity of the spirit; man could not do both busily. And then they failed also in the other part of a spiritual religion; for the nature of a spiritual religion is, that in it we serve God with our hearts and affections; and because while the spirit prevails, we do not to evil purposes of abate

ment converse with flesh and blood, this service is also fervent, intense, active, wise, and busy, according to the nature of things spiritual. Now, because God always perfectly intended it, yet because he less perfectly required it in the law of Moses, I say they fell short in both.

For, 1. They so rested in the outward action, that they thought themselves chaste, if they were no adulterers, though their eyes were wanton as kids, and their thoughts polluted as the springs of the wilderness, when a panther and a lioness descend to drink and lust; and if they did not rob the temple, they accounted it no sin if they murmured at the riches of religion; and Josephus reproves Polybius, for saying that Antiochus was punished for having a design of sacrilege; and therefore Tertullian says of them, they were "nec plenæ, nec adeo timendæ disciplinæ ad innocentiæ veritatem;" this was "their righteousness" which Christ said unless we will "exceed, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," where all spiritual perfections are in state and excellency.

2. The other part of a spiritual worship is a fervour and a holy zeal of God's glory, greatness of desire, and quickness of action of all this the Jews were not careful at all, excepting the zealots amongst them, and they were not only fervent but inflamed; and they had the earnestness of passion for the holy warmth of religion, and instead of an earnest charity they had a cruel discipline, and for fraternal correction they did destroy a sinning Israelite: and by both these evil states of religion they did "the work of the Lord deceitfully;" they either gave him the action without the heart, or zeal without charity, or religion without zeal, or ceremony without religion, or indifferency without desires; and then God is served by the outward man and not the inward; or by part of the inward and not all; by the understanding and not by the will; or by the will, when the affections are cold and the body unapt, and the lower faculties in rebellion, and the superior in disorder, and the work of God is left imperfect, and our persons ungracious, and our ends unacquired, and the state of a spiritual kingdom not at all set forward towards any hope or possibility of being obtained. All this Christ came to mend; and by his laws did make provision that God should be served entirely, according as

God always designed, and accordingly required by his prophets, and particularly in my text, that his work be done sincerely, and our duty with great affection; and by these two provisions; both the intention and the extension are secured our duty shall be entire, and it shall be perfect, we shall be neither lame nor cold, without a limb, nor without natural heat, and then "the work of the Lord will prosper in our hands:" but if we fail in either, we do "the Lord's work deceitfully," and then we are accursed. For so saith the Spirit of God, "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord deceitfully."

1. Here then is the duty of us all: 1. God requires of us to serve him with an integral, entire, or a whole worship and religion. 2. God requires of us to serve him with earnest and intense affections; the entire purpose of both which, I shall represent in its several parts by so many propositions. 3. I shall consider concerning the measures of zeal and its inordinations.

1. He that serves God with the body without the soul, serves God deceitfully. "My son, give me thy heart ;" and though I cannot think that nature was so sacramental, as to point out the holy and mysterious Trinity by the triangle of the heart, yet it is certain that the heart of man is God's special portion, and every angle ought to point out towards him directly; that is, the soul of man ought to be presented to God, and given him as an oblation to the interest of his service.

1. For, to worship God with our souls confesses one of his glorious attributes; it declares him to be the searcher of hearts, and that he reads the secret purposes, and beholds the smallest arrests of fancy, and bends in all the flexures and intrigues of crafty people; and searches out every plot and trifling conspiracy against him, and against ourselves, and against our brethren.

2. It advances the powers and concernments of his providence, and confesses all the affairs of men, all their cabinets and their nightly counsels, their snares and two-edged mischiefs to be overruled by him; for what he sees he judges, and what he judges he rules, and what he rules must turn to his glory; and of this glory he reflects rays and influençes upon his servants, and it shall also turn to their good.

« VorigeDoorgaan »