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mercy of God to all that will receive it in him; then we are truly musicum carmen, as a love-song, when we present the love of God to you, and raise you to the love of God in Christ Jesus: for, for the music of the spheres, whatsoever it be, we cannot hear it; for the decrees of God in heaven, we cannot say we have seen them; our music is only that salvation which is declared in the Gospel to all them, and to them only, who take God by the right hand, as he delivers himself in Christ.
So they shall be music in re, in their matter, in their doctrine; and they shall be also in modo, in their manner of presenting that doctrine. Religion is a serious thing, but not a sullen; religious preaching is a grave exercise, but not a sordid, not a barbarous, not a negligent. There are not so eloquent books in the world, as the Scriptures: except those names of tropes and figures, which the grammarians and rhetoricians put upon us, and we may be bold to say, that in all their authors, Greek and Latin, we cannot find so high, and so lively examples, of those tropes, and those figures, as we may in the Scriptures: whatsoever hath justly delighted any man in any man's writings, is exceeded in the Scriptures. The style of the Scriptures is a diligent, and an artificial style; and a great part thereof in a musical, in a metrical, in a measured composition, in verse. The greatest mystery of our religion, indeed the whole body of our religion, the coming, and the kingdom of a Messiah, of a Saviour, of Christ, is conveyed in a song, in the third chapter of Habakkuk: and therefore the Jews say, that that song cannot yet be understood, because they say the Messiah is not yet come. His greatest work, when he was come, which was his union and marriage with the church, and with our souls, he hath also delivered in a piece of a curious frame, Solomon's song of songs. And so likewise, long before, when God had given all the law, he provided, as himself says, a safer way, which was to give them a heavenly song of his own making3: for that song, he says there, he was sure they would remember. So the Holy Ghost hath spoken in those instruments, whom he chose for the penning of the Scriptures, and so he would in those whom he sends for the preaching thereof: he would put in them a care of delivering God messages,
3 Deut. xxxi. 19.
with consideration, with meditation, with preparation; and not barbarously, not suddenly, not occasionally, not extemporarily, which might derogate from the dignity of so great a service. That ambassador should open himself to a shrewd danger and surprisal, that should defer the thinking upon his oration, till the prince, to whom he was sent, were reading his letters of credit: and it is a late time of meditation for a sermon, when the psalm is singing. Loquere Domine, says the prophet; Speak, O Lord: but it was when he was able to say, Ecce paratus, Behold I am prepared for thee to speak in me: if God shall be believed, to speak in us, in our ordinary ministry, it must be, when we have, so as we can, fitted ourselves, for his presence. To end this, then are we musicum carmen in modo, music to the soul, in the manner of our preaching, when in delivering points of divinity, we content ourselves with that language, and that phrase of speech, which the Holy Ghost hath expressed himself in, in the Scriptures for to delight in the new and bold terms of heretics, furthers the doctrine of heretics too. And then also, are we musicum carmen, when, according to the example of men inspired by the Holy Ghost, in writing the Scriptures, we deliver the messages of God, with such diligence, and such preparation, as appertains to the dignity of that employment.
Now these two, to be music both these ways, in matter and in manner, concur and meet in the next, which is, to have a pleasant voice: Thou art a lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice. First, a voice they must have, they must be heard: if they silence themselves, by their ignorance, or by their laziness; if they occasion themselves to be silenced, by their contempt and contumacy, both ways they are inexcusable; for a voice is essential to them, that denominates them: John Baptist hath other great names; even the name of Baptist, is a great name, when we consider whom he baptized; him, who baptized the Baptist himself, and all us, in his own blood. So is his name of preacher, the forerunner of Christ (for in that name he came before him, who was before the world ;) so is his propheta, that he was a prophet, and then, more than a prophet; and then, the greatest among the sons of women; these were great names, but yet the name that he chose, is Vox clamantis, The voice of him
that cries in the wilderness. What names and titles soever we receive in the school, or in the church, or in the state; if we lose our voice, we lose our proper name, our Christian name. But then, John Baptist's name is not a voice, any voice, but the voice in the prophecy of Esay, in all the four evangelists, constantly, the voice. Christ is verbum, the word; not a word, but the word: the minister is vox, voice; not a voice, but the voice, the voice of that word, and no other; and so, he is a pleasing voice, because he pleases him that sent him, in a faithful executing of his commission, and speaking according to his dictate; and pleasing to them to whom he is sent, by bringing the Gospel of peace and reparation to all wounded, and scattered, and contrite spirits.
They shall be music both ways, in matter, and in manner; and pleasing both ways, to God, and to men: but yet to none of these, except the music be perfect, except it be to an instrument, that is, as we said at first, out of St. Basil, and St. Augustine, except the doctrine be expressed in the life too: Who will believe me when I speak, if by my life they see I do not believe myself! How shall I be believed to speak heartily against ambition and bribery in temporal and civil places, if one in the congregation be able to jog him that sits next him, and tell him, That man offered me money for spiritual preferment! To what a dangerous scorn shall I open myself, and the service of God, if I shall declaim against usury, and look him in the face that hath my money at use ! One such witness in the congregation, shall outpreach the preacher: and God shall use his tongue (perchance his malice) to make the service of that preacher ineffectual. Quam speciosi pedes Evangelizantium, says St. Paul'! (and he says that out of Esay, and out of Nahum too, as though the Holy Ghost had delighted himself with that phrase in expressing it) how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel! Men look most to our feet, to our ways: the power that makes men admire, may lie in our tongues; but the beauty that makes men love, lies in our feet, in our actions. And so we have done with all the pieces that constitute our first part: God, in his promise to that nation, prophesied upon us, that which he hath abun
• Rom. x.
dantly performed, a ministry, that should first be trumpets, and then music music, in fitting a reverent manner, to religious matter; and music, in fitting an instrument to the voice, that is, their lives to their doctrine. Eris, said God here to this prophet, All this thou shalt be: and that leads us into our second part.
Now, in this second part, there is more; for it is not only eris, thou shalt be so in thyself, and as thou art employed by me; but eris illis, thou shalt be so unto them, they shall receive thee for such, acknowledge thee to be such: God provides a great measure of ability in the prophet, and some measure of good inclination in the people. Eris illis tuba, thou shalt be to them, they shall feel thee to be a trumpet: they shall not say in their hearts, there is no God; they shall not say, Tush, the Lord sees us not, or he is a blind, or an indifferent God, or, the Lord is like one of us, he loves peace, and will be at quiet; but they shall acknowledge, that he is Dominus exercituum, the Lord of hosts, and that the prophet is his trumpet, to raise them up to a spiritual battle. Eris illis tuba, thou shalt be to them a trumpet, they shall not be secure in their sins; and eris illis carmen musicum, by thy preaching they shall come to confess, that God is a God of harmony, and not of discord; of order, and not of confusion; and that, as he made, so he governs all things, in weight, and number, and measure; that he hath a succession, and a hierarchy in his church; that it is a household of the faithful, and a kingdom of saints, and therefore regularly governed, and by order, and that in this government no man can give himself orders, no man can baptize himself, nor give himself the body and blood of Christ Jesus, nor preach to himself, nor absolve himself; and therefore they shall come to thee, whom they shall confess to be appointed by God, to convey these graces unto them: eris illis carmen musicum: from thee they shall accept that music, the orderly application of God's mercies, by visible and outward means in thy ministry in the church. Eris illis vox suaris, they shall confess thou preachest true doctrine, and appliest it powerfully to their consciences; and eris illis vox ad citharam, thou shalt be a voice to an instrument: they shall acknowledge thy life to be agreeable to thy doctrine; they shall quarrel thee, challenge thee in neither, not in doctrine, not in manners.
Such as God appoints thee to be, eris, thou shalt be; and eris illis, they shall respect thee as such, and reward thee as such: and they shall express that, in that which follows, audient, they shall hear thy word. The worldly man, though it trouble him to hear thee, though it put thorns and brambles into his conscience, yet though it be but to beget an opinion of holiness in others, audiet, he will hear thee. The fashional man, that will do as he sees great men do, if their devotion, or their curiosity, or their service and attendance, draw him hither, audiet, he will come with them, and he will hear. He that is disaffected in his heart, to the doctrine of our church, rather than incur penalties of statutes and canons, audiet, he will come, and hear: yea, there is more than that, intended, audient, they shall hear willingly; and more than that too, audient, they shall hear cheerfully, desirously. Here is none of that action which was in St. Stephen's persecutors, continuerunt aures, they withheld their ears, they withdrew themselves from hearing, they kept themselves out of distance; here is no such recusancy intended; neither is there any of their actions, Qui obturant aures, as the Psalmist says, The serpent does, who (as the fathers note often) stops one ear with laying it close to the ground, and the other with covering it with his tail here is none of their action, qui in durant, nor qui declinant; none that turneth away his ear (for even his prayer shall be an abomination, says Solomon; his very being here is a sin) here, in our case, in our text, is none of these indispositions; but here is a ready, a willing, and (in appearance) a religious coming to hear expectation, acceptation, acclamation, congratulation, remuneration, in a fair proportion; we complain of no want in any of these now. Sumus, God hath authorized us, and God hath exalted us, in some measure, to deliver his messages; and sumus vobis, you do not deny us to be such; you do not refuse, but you receive us, and his messages by us; you do hear our words. And that is all that belonged to our second part.
Now in both these former parts, who can discern, who would suspect any foundation to be laid for an increpation, any preparation for a malediction or curse! God will send good preachers
Acts vii. 57.
7 Jer. vii. 26.
6 Psalm Lviii.
Prov. xxviii. 9.