Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

draw on their destruction. Balaam's ass, seeing the angel's sworil, will strive to decline it: every slave will tug hard to escape the lash.

But is it in a sweet sense of the mercies of God, who hath done so much for thy soul? is it out of a conscience not to offend so holy and munificent a God, who hath purchased thee so dear, and seal. ed thee up to the day of redemption? now, thou hast in thee a true generosity of spirit: this argues thee to have the proper affections of a true child of God; for every child of God is spiritually good-natured.

It is not so with our natural children. A stomachfull Esau knows that his good father cannot but be displeased with his Pagan matches; yet he takes him wives of the daughters of Heth; Gen. xxvi. 34. 35. And an ambitious Absalom dares rise up in rebellion against his tenderly-loving father. But grace hath other effects: the spiritual generation of God's faithful ones are dearly affectionate to their Father in Heaven, and apply themselves to all obedience out of mere love and duty.

The son and the slave are both enjoined one work. God be thanked, we can have no instance in this kind: that vassalage is happily and justly extinguished as unfit to be of use amongst Christians; but, where it obtaineth still, the son and the slave do one work; but out of different grounds: the son, to please his father; the slave, that he may avoid the stripes of an imperious master : therefore, the one doth it cheerfully and willingly; the other, grudgingly and repiningly: the one, of love and gratitude; the other, out of fear.

This is a point worthy of our serious consideration, as that which mainly imports our souls, what are the grounds of our either actions or forbearances. We endeavour some good duties; we refrain from some sins: out of what principles? Some there are, that can brag of their immunity from gross sins, with the proud Pharisee, "I am no fornicator, no drunkard, no murderer, no liar, no slanderer, no oppressor :" and, I would to God, every one of you, that hear me this day, could, in sincerity of heart, say so. But what is the ground of this their pretended inoffensiveness? If it be only a fear of hell, and of the wrathful indignation of that just Judge, thou canst reap small comfort to thy soul in this condition; for this is out of mere self-love, and desire to escape pain and misery, which is incident into the worst of creatures. Even the evil spirits themselves are afraid of tormenting; and deprecate the sending them back to their chains. But, if it be out of a gracious and tender love to God; out of a filial fear of the displeasure of a God, that hath done so much for thee; this argues the disposition of a true child of God, and may justly administer comfort to thy soul, in the time of thy trial.

Oh, that we could every one of us lay before our eyes the sweet mercies of our God; especially his spiritual favours : ho v freely he hath loved us; how dearly he hath redeemed us, even with the most precious blood of the Son of his Love; how graciously he hath sealed us up to the day of our redemption! and, that we could make this use of it, to be a strong retractive from any, even of our dearest and gainfullest sins!

Car y this home with you, Dear Brethren, I beseech you; and fail not to think of it upon all occasions. Whenever you shall find yourselves tempted to any sin whatsoever, of lust, of excess, of covetous desires, have this antidote ready in your bosoms, which good Joseph had; How shall I do this great evil and sin against God? As good Polycarpus, that holy martyr, when, for the preservation of his life, he was urged to renounce Christ, said; "Fourscore and six years have I been his servant, and he never did me hurt; and shall I deny my Sovereign King, that hath so graciously preserved me?”

If, out of these grounds, thou canst check thy sins; and canst say, “ Lord, I have been careful not to grieve thy Good Spirit, because thou, in thine eternal love, hast sealed me thereby to the day of my redemption,” be confident, that thy redemption is sealed in heaven; and shall, in due time, be manifested to thine investiture with the eternal glory and happiness, which God hath prepared for all his: To the participation whereof, that God, who hath ordained us, in his good time mercifully bring us, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Just: To whom, with the Father, and the Blessed Spirit, One Infinite and Incomprehensible God, be given all praise, honour, and glory, now and for evermore. Amen.

SERMON XXXIX.

CHRIST OUR PASSOVER:

A SERMON PREACHED ON EASTER-DAY, AT HIGHAM, 1648.

1 CORINTHIANS V. 7.

For Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us : therefore let us keep

the feast.

The feast: that is, the Passover of the Jews, then expiring : or the Christians' Easter, then succeeding. Indeed, I know not whether both be not alluded to: for this Epistle is conceived to have been written by the Apostle some twenty-four years after our Saviour's Passion ; ere which time, it is more than probable, that the feast of Christ's Resurrection was solemnly celebrated by the Christian Church. This I am sure of, that no record in all history mentions the time when it began to be kept; and, therefore, it is most likely, according to Augustin's received rule, to be deduced from the observation of the Apostles. There were ancient and eager quarrels, betwixt the Eastern and Western Churches, about the day whereon it should be kept; but whether it should be kept or no, there was never yet any question, since Christianity looked forth into the world. And, as that Pasche, so this Easter, is justly the Feast, for the eminency of it above the rest : for, if we do with joy and thankfulness, according to the angel's message, solemnize the day wherein the Son of God, our Blessed Redeemer, being bom, entered the life of human nature; how much more should we celebrate that day, wherein, having conquered all the powers of death and hell, he was, as it were, born again to the life of a glorious immortality

But, to leave the time, and come to the Text. This for, that leads it in, is both a relative and an illative: referring to what he had said in the foregoing words; and inferring a necessary consequence of the one clause upon the other: Purge out the old leaven; for Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us. The whole text is allegorical;

alluding to the charge and duty of God's ancient people, the Jews, in the observation of their passover: who, upon no less pain than cutting off from the congregation of Israel, must admit of no leavened bread to be eaten or found in their houses, during the whole seven days of this celebrity; as you may see Exod. xii. 17, 18, &c. As, therefore, the ceremonial passover would admit of no material leaven; so the spiritual passover may not abide any leaven of wickedness : Peuge therefore out the old learen ; for Christ, our passover, is sacrified for us.

The first work, then, that we have to do, is, to cast back our eyes to THE GROUND OF THIS INSTITUTION; and to enquire, why no leaven might consist with the Jewish passover. And we shall lind, that there was not the same reason of the first observation of this ceremony, and of the following. The first was Necessity : Devotion was the ground of the rest.

Necessity first : for, in that sudden departure which they were put upon, there could be no leisure to leaven their dough; as you may see, Exod. xii. 39.

Devotion, afterward; in a grateful recognition, both of their own servile condition, and of the gracious providence of God.

In the Former, they were called to look back upon their old Egyptian servitude, by their unleavened bread: for this was on 1, the bread of affliction, as we turn it; or, the bread of the poor, as the word signifies; which they must now eat, to put them in mind of their hard and poor condition in Egypt, under their evil taskmasters, all their lives after; as Deut. xvi. 3. To the same purpose it was, that they must eat the lamb; not with sour herbs, as it had wont to be turned; for a sharp kind of sourness in sauces is esteemed pleasing and tasteful: but with bitter herbs; yea, as the word is in the original, 'n by, cum amaritudinibus, with bito ternesses.

In the Latter, they were minded of a double providence of the Almighty: one, that God was pleased to fetch them out of Egypt in a happy suddenness, even when they had no leisure to make up their batch; the other, that he sustained them with this unleavened dough, till he sent them manna in the wilderness. The one was the bread of the poor; the other, the bread of angels. As therefore he would have a pot of manna kept in the ark, for a monument of that miraculous food, wherewith he fed them in the desert; so he thought good to ordain this observation of unleavened bread, for a perpetual memorial of their provision preceding it.

And this was not only a charge, but a sanction; under the severe penalty, whether of excommunication, or death, or both : both for the authority of the commander, and for the weight of the institution : whereby God meant, both to rub up their memory of a temporal benefit past; and to quicken their faith in a greater spiritual favour of their future redemption from sin and death, by the blood of that True Paschal-Lamb, which should be sacrificed for them.

This is the Ground of this Institution.

Now let us, if you please, enquire a little into the ground of this allusion to the leaven; THE NATURE AND SIGNIFICATION OF THIS IMPLIED COMPARISON here mentioned. And we shall easily find, that leaven hath

If any

First a Diffusive Faculty : so it is taken, both in the good part, and the evil. In good : so the Kingdom of Heaven is compared to leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened ; Matth. xii. 33: lo, these same cátú Tríce, were more than a bushel of our measure; and one morsel of Jeaven seasons it all. In evil: so here, immediately before my Text, in an ordinary Jewish proverb, A litile leaven leaveneih the whole lump

Secondly, it hath in itself a Displeasing Sourness. In which regard it is an ill construction, attributed both to false doctrine, and to evil manners. To false doctrine: Take heed, saith our Saviour, of the leaven of the Pharisees ; Matth. xvi. 6. To ill manners : so, in the next words, ye have the leaven (f malice and wickedness.

I. So then here, the very INFERENCE offers us these Two necessary Heads of ou

Discourse : 1. That sin, or THE SINNER, for it may be taken of either or both, is SPRITU L LEAVEN : 2. That THIS LEAVEN MUST BE PURGED OUT, because Christ is our passover, and sacrificed for us.

1. For the FIRST : sin hath the true qualities of leaven; both in respect of the Offensive Sourness, and of the Diffusion.

(1.) In the Former nothing can be so distasteful unto God, as sin. Indeed, nothing can displease, but it; as nothing is so sweet and pleasing to him, as the obedience of his faithful ones. edible thing could be more offensive to the palate, sin would be likened to it. As, indeed, it is still resembled by whatsoever may be most abhorring to all the senses. To the sight : so it is compared to filth; Isaiah iv. 4. Psalm xiv. 3. to beastly excrements; 2 Peter ii. 22. to spots and blemishes; 2 Peter ii. 13. to menstruous and polluted blood; Ezek. xvi. 6. To the smell: so to a corrupted ointment; to the stench of a dead carcase : what should I instance in the rest? How should it be other than highly offensive to the Majesty of God, when it is professedly opposite to divine Justice; since all sin is the transgression of the royal law? Even the conscience, which is God's taster, finds it abominably loathsome : how much more that God, who is greater than the conscience ! who so abhors it, that, as we are wont to do to the potsherd which hath held poisonous liquor, he throws away and breaks the very vessel, wherein it was : as he, that finds a hair or a coal in the daintiest bit, spits it out all. Did God find sin in his angels? He tumbles them down out of heaven. Doth he find sin in our first parents? He hurls them out of paradise. Yea, did he find our sins laid upon the blessed Son of his Love; of his nature? He spares him not a whit; but lays load upon him, till he roars out in the anguish of his soul. Lo, he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisements of our peace were upon him, and by his stripes we are healed; Isaiah liii. 5. And to whom should we rather conform ourselves, than to the Most Holy God? What diet should we affect, but his, who is the rule of all perfection? How then should we utterly abhor every evil way! How should we hate our sins with a perfect ha

« ForrigeFortsæt »