Page images

to the people, and the people shall love their preaching; and yet, as he said to Samuel, He will do a thing, at which both the ears of him that hears it shall tingle'. Now, what is that in our case? This; he will aggravate their condemnation, therefore, because they have been so diligent herein, et non fecerunt, they have done nothing of that which they have heard. As our very repentance contracts the nature of sin, if we persevere not in that holy purpose; but, as though we had then made even with God, sin on again upon a new score: so this hearing itself is a sin, that is, such an aggravating circumstance, as changes the very nature of the sin, to them that hear so much, and do nothing. This is not a preparation of that curse in Ezekiel; whether they will hear or forbear, yet they shall know, that a prophet hath been among them; that is, hear, or hear not, subsequent judgments shall bring them to see, that they might have heard: but here God accompanies them with a stronger grace, than so; audient, they will hear. There are vipers in the Psalm that will not hear, how wisely soever the charmers charm; but there is a generation of vipers" which do hear, and yet depart with none of their viperous nature: O generation of ripers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come! says John Baptist, there to the Pharisees and Sadducees, that came to his baptism. They had apprehended tubam, a warning, and they did come; but when they were come, he found them in their non faciunt, without any purpose of bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance.


Here then is St. Paul's Judæus in abscondito, a Jew inwardly 1. Here is the true recusant, and the true non-conformitan; audiunt, sed non faciunt: he comes to hear, but never comes to do; there is recusancy he confesses that he hath received good instruction, but he refuses to conform himself unto it; there is non-conformity. First, non facient quæ dixeris, they will not do those things which thou hast said; and yet, that is strange, since they confess thou sayest true: but yet that is not so strange; for they may be duri sermonis; though it be true that we say, it may be hard, and it may trouble them, and perchance damnify them in their profit, or mortify them in their pleasures. It may be we

91 Sam. iii. 11.
11 Matt. iii. 7.

10 Ezek. ii. 5. 12 Rom. ii. 29.

may say, that thy relapsing into a sin formerly repented, submits thee again to all the punishment due to the former sin; and that is durus sermo, a hard saying: it may be we may say, that a repentance which hath all other formal parts of a true repentance, if it reach not to all the branches, and to all the specifying differences and circumstance of thy sins, so far as a diligent examination of thy conscience can carry thee, is a void repentance; and that is durus sermo, a hard saying. It may be we may say, that though thou hast truly and entirely repented, though thou do leave the practice of the sin, yet if thou do not also leave that which thou hast corruptly got by the ways of that sin, the sin itself lies upon thee still; and that is durus sermo, a hard saying: and Christ's own disciples forsook him, and forsook him for ever, quia durus sermo 13, because that which Christ said, seemed to them a hard saying. This we may say; and they may come to hear, and come to say we say true, and yet non facient quæ dixeris, never do any of that which we say, quia duri sermones, because we press things hardly upon them.

But yet that is not so strange, as non facere quæ dixerint, not to do those things which they have said themselves. That when, as the apostle says of the Corinthians, Vos estis, You are our epistle, not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God so a man, by hearing, is become evangelium sibi, a gospel to himself; and by the preaching of the Gospel, is come to say, Non amplius, I will go, and sin no more, lest a worse thing fall unto me yet he goes and sins again, fall what will, or can fall; and non facit quæ dixerit, he does not perform his own promise to himself. He is affected with some particular passage in a sermon, and then he comes to David's secundum innocentiam; O Lord, deal with me according to my future innocence; show thy mercy to me, as I keep myself from that sin hereafter; and then, abominantur eum vestimenta ejus", his old clothes defile him again, his old rags cast vermin upon him, his old habits of sin throw new dirt upon him. He goes out of the church as that man's son went from his father, who sent him to work in the vineyard, with that word in his mouth, Eo Domine, Sir, I go1;

13 John vi. 60.

14 Job ix. 31.

15 Matt. xxi. 28.

but he never went, he turns another way, non facit quæ dixerat, he keeps not his own word, with his own soul: when he is gone out of his right way, a sickness, a disgrace, a loss overtakes him, the arrows of the Almighty stick in him, and the venom thereof drinks up his spirit; temporal afflictions, and spiritual afflictions meet in him, like two clouds, and beat out a thunder upon him; like two currents, and swallow him; like two millstones, and grind him; and then he comes to his Domine quid retribuam? Lord, what shall I give thee, to deliver me now? and non facit quæ dixerat, he pays none of those vows, performs no part of that which he promised then. Christ had his consummatum est, and this sinner hath his Christ ends his passion, and he ends his action; Christ ends his affliction, and he ends his affection: Distulit securim, attulit securitatem, says St. Augustine of this case; As soon as the danger is removed, his devotion is removed too. The end of all is, that what punishment soever God reserves for them, who never heard of the name of his Son Christ Jesus at all, or for them who have pretended to receive him, but have done it idolatrously, superstitiously; we that have heard him, we that have had the Scriptures preached and applied to us sincerely, shall certainly have the heavier condemnation, for having had that which they wanted: our multiplicity of preachers, and their assiduity in preaching; our true interpretation of their labours, when we do hear, and our diligent coming, that we may hear, shall leave us in worse state than they found us, si non fecerimus, if we do not do that which we hear. And to do the Gospel, is to do what we can for the preservation of the Gospel. I know what I can do, as a minister of the Gospel, and of God's Word; out of his Word I can preach against linseywoolsey garments; out of his Word I can preach against ploughing with an ox, and with an ass, against mingling of religions. I know what I can do, as a father, as a master; I can preserve my family from attempts of Jesuits. Those that are of higher place, magistrates, know what they can do too: they know they can execute laws; if not to the taking of life, yet to the restraining of liberty and it is no seditious saying, it is no sauciness, it is no bitterness, it is no boldness to say, that the spiritual death of those souls, who perish by the practice of those


seducers, whom they might have stopped, lies upon them. And how knows he, who lets a Jesuit escape, whether he let go but a fox, that will deceive some simple soul in matter of religion; or a wolf, who, but for the protection of the Almighty, would adventure upon the person of the highest of all? Non facient quæ dixeris, is as far as the text goes; They will not do that we say : but quæ dixerint, is more; they will not do that which themselves have said: but, quæ juraverint, is most of all; if they will not do that, which for the preservation of the Gospel, they have taken an oath to do, the increpation, the malediction intended by God, in this text, that all our preaching, and all our hearing shall aggravate our condemnation, will fall upon us and therefore, this being the season, in which, especially, God affords you the performance of that part of this prophecy, assiduous, and laborious, and acceptable, and useful preaching; where all you, of all sorts, are likely to hear the duties of administration towards others, and of mortification in yourselves, powerfully represented unto you, this may have been somewhat necessarily said by me now, for the removing of some stones out of their way, and the chafing of that wax, in which they may thereby make the deeper and clearer impressions; that so, we may not only be to you, as a lovely song, sung to an instrument; nor you only hear our words, but do them. Amen.



FEBRUARY 20, 1628.

JAMES ii. 12.

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

THIS is one of those seven epistles, which Athanasius and Origen called catholic; that is, universal; perchance because they are

not directed to any one church, as some others are, but to all the Christian world: and St. Hierome called them canonical; perchance because all rules, all canons of holy conversation are comprised in these epistles: and Epiphanius, and Ecumenius called them circular; perchance, because as in a circle, you cannot discern which was the first point, nor in which, the compass begun the circle; so neither can we discern in these epistles, whom the Holy Ghost begins withal, whom he means principally, king or subject, priest or people, single or married, husband or wife, father or children, masters or servants; but universally, promiscuously, indifferently, they give all rules, for all actions, to all persons, at all times, and in all places; as in this text, in particular, which is not, by any precedent, or subsequent relation, by any connexion or coherence, directed upon any company, or any degree of men for the apostle does not say, Ye princes, nor ye people; but ye, ye in general, to all, So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty: so these epistles are catholic, so they are canonical, and they circular so. But yet, though in a circle we know not where the compass began, we know not which was the first point; yet we know, that the last point of the circle returns to the first, and so becomes all one; and as much as we know the last, we know the first point. Since then the last point of that circle, in which God hath created us to move, is a kingdom (for it is the kingdom of heaven) and it is a court (for it is that glorious court, which is the presence of God, in the communion of his saints) it is a fair and a pious conception, for this congregation, here present now in this place, to believe, that the first point of this circle of our apostle here, is a court too; and that the Holy Ghost, in proposing these duties in his general ye, does principally intend, ye that live in court, ye whom God brings so near to the sight of himself, and of his court in heaven, as that you have always the picture of himself, and the portraiture of his court in your eyes: for a religious king is the image of God, and a religious court is a copy of the communion of saints. And therefore be you content to think, that to you especially our apostle says here, Ye, ye who have a nearer propinquity to God, a more assiduous conversation with God, by having better helps than other inferior stations do afford (for

« PreviousContinue »