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when they dress it up with splendor in her service, which, though some magnify it so much, yet may most truly be called a glistering slavery and captivity. Then is she truly free and wears her crown, when the ordinances of God are conformable to his own appointment. It is vanity in man, I say, when they dress it up with a multitude of gaudy ceremonies, and make it the smallest part of itself; whereas indeed its true glory consists not in pomp, but in purity and simplicity. In the twelfth chap ter of the Apocalypse, we find the church, under the name of a woman, richly attired indeed, but her ornaments be all heavenly; the sun her clothing, and her crown of twelve stars. Needs she then borrow sublunary glory? No, she treads upon it: the moon is under her feet. There is another woman, indeed, in that same book, arrayed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold and precious stones, and having a golden cup in her hand, but that golden cup is full of abominations and filthiness, and she herself is the mother of abominations, Rev. xvii, 4. The natural man judges according to his reach; but to a spiritual eye there is a most genuine beauty in the service of God and the government of his house; and when they are nearest to the rule, the word of God, then is it, that the Lord himself is the crown and diadem of His church.
A crown of glory. Again; we may consider this personally, as belonging in particular to every believer. They are all made kings and priests unto God the Father. They are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, how despicable soever to the world. This is their dignity-the Lord is their crown and diadem. He subdues their lusts, and makes them kings over their own affections, and more than conquerors over all troubles and persecutions; whereas carnal men are continually hurried, like slaves, unto base employments, still kept toiling in the ignoble service of their own lusts. They think indeed it is their liberty, but that is a baseness of spirit, that complies so well with so vile and servile a condition. And whereas they judge the godly to be the refuse and dross of the earth and the proper objects of contempt, this is because this their crown, though most glorious, is invisible to the eye of nature. The Lord is a
crown. If they knew what this is, they would see enough in it to countervail their outward meanness and the reproaches the world casts on them: as the apostle St. Peter hath it, if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you. He is their crown.
And observe, how this crown is opposed to that blasted glory and fading crown of pride, spoken of in the former verses; Wo to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower. Who is there that sees not, in daily experience, the vanity and inconstancy of worldly glory? And yet how few are there that wean themselves from it, and learn to disdain it! Still men doat upon that which is not, upon a shadow, a nothing. But would you have a glory that fadeth not, a garland that cannot wither, make the Lord your crown and your glory; and if he be so, glory in him, and in nothing else. 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; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me. Jer. ix, 23, 24.
You that are noble aspire to this crown, as being so far above your perishing honors and bounded powers. And you that are outwardly mean and low, see how little cause you have to complain of your condition, seeing you are not debarred from this best and greatest honor. And that you may discern it aright what it is, know that it consists in the renovation of God's image within you, which is in holiness and righteousness: so the Lord becomes your crown in the kingdom of grace. And by this you may discover, whether or no you have attained it—if you can yet delight to wallow in the puddle and pleasures of sin, you are far from this royal condition; but if you find your soul possessed with the love of holiness, and that you are trampling upon profane delights, this may persuade you that God hath enabled you, and crowned you with his grace, and will crown you with glory. Again; try it by this-if the Lord is become your crowu and your glory, you will glory in him and in nothing else. Though you be wise, you will not glory in your wisdom,
nor in strength, nor in riches, nor in honors, though you had them all; but if you glory, you will glory in the Lord; and your highest joy will be to see the advancement of his glory, and, if you can, to be any way serviceable to the advancing of it.
And for a spirit of judgment; both to those that sit in judgment and to the people; for justice is the strongest base and establishment of authority. And withal, the influence of it is most sweet and comfortable to those who are under authority; and where it is wanting, that order and relation of superiors and inferiors, which God hath appointed in the societies of men for their good, tends exceedingly to the damage of both. And therefore, where God intendeth to continue the peace and welfare of a people, he is liberal in pouring out much of this spirit of judgment on those who sit in judgment. On the contrary, it is for a heavy punishment, when he withdraws his Spirit from rulers, and leaves them wholly to the corruption and vanity of their own spirits.
To him that sitteth in judgment; that is, to all that are in places of authority and judicature, from the supreme to the lowest magistrate; for this concerns them all; for they be all raised in their subordination and several places above the people, for the benefit and good of the people; as the stars, that be set so high, yet are placed there to be useful and beneficial to the inferior world.
Now this spirit of judgment comprehends in it both due wisdom and prudence for the trial and right judging of affairs, and for the discerning betwixt sound and perverse counsel; and withal a judgment practically good, that cannot be biassed from the straight line of equity and justice by any sinister respect.
Now, seeing the spirit of judgment is from the Lord, yea, he is this spirit, it ought to persuade those that sit in judgment to entreat and pray for this, and to depend upon it, and beware of self-confidence. Trust in the
Lord, saith Solomon, and lean not to thine own understanding; if you do, it will prove but a broken reed. And as they that sit in judgment should entreat his Spirit by prayer, so generally all must share with them in this duty, and make supplication for all that are in autho
rity over them, especially in extraordinary times. we have matter of thankfulness, that the Lord hath in some measure inclined the royal heart of our sovereign to the desires of his people; and we ought still to pray, that the Lord would give the king his judgments; and then, as the psalmist adds, The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness, Psal. lxxii, 3. And for this end, let all who wish the public, yea, their own good, pray much for abundance of this spirit of judgment to be conferred on them. Your eyes and expectations are upon them. If you would enjoy the lamp, you must pour in oil. This spirit indeed you cannot pour upon them, but if you pour out many prayers, you may draw it from above. He will give it, who here promises to be a spirit of judgment.
And for strength. Observe, the way to be powerful and successful against foreign enemies, is to have religion and justice florishing at home. And truly, if it please our God to answer the desires of his people at this time, it may so unite the affection and strength of the two kingdoms, the Lord of hosts being their strength, as to make them a terror to their enemies; whereas they were become a scorn and derision to them. For your particular, labor to make the Lord your glory, to have Christ made unto you, as the apostle speaks, both wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, which are the glory and beauty of the soul, and redemption from spiritual enemies. Draw strength from him to fight and prevail against them, till, after the short combat of this life, you obtain the crown, and dwell in his presence, where you shall fear no more assaults, neither of sin nor of affliction, but shall be for ever happy in the blessed vision of his face. To him be glory. Amen.
Christ the Light and Lustre of the Church.
EXTERNAL worship doth openly acknowledge a Deity, but want of inward sense in worship secretly denieth it;
The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. It is strange to hear so much noise of religion in the world, and to find so little piety. To present the living God with a carcass of lifeless worship, is to pay him with shells of services, and so to mock him. And it is a more admirable long-suffering in him to defer the punishment of such devotion, than of all the other sins in the world. The Egyptian temples were rich and stately fabrics. A stranger who had looked upon them without, would have imagined some great deity within; but if they entered, as Lucian says laughing at them, nothing was to be seen, but only some ape, or cat, or pied bull, or some other fine god like these. To behold our fair semblance of religion who frequent this house, it would appear that we were all the temples of the Holy Ghost; but whoso could look within us, would find in many of our hearts lust, pride, avarice, or some such like secret vice adored as a god. And these are they which, while our bodies sit here, do alienate our souls from the service of the eternal God, so that we are either altogether senseless and dead before him, or, if any fit of spiritual motion rise within us, we find it here, and here we leave it, as if it were sacrilege to take it home with us. But did once that Spirit of Grace breathe savingly upon our souls, we should straight renounce and abhor these base idols, and then all the current of our affection would run more in this channel. Our services would then be spiritual, and it would be our heaven upon earth to view God in bis sanctuary. And the obtaining of the change is or should be one main end of this our meeting; and, that it may be the happy effect of it, our recourse must be to the throne of grace by humble prayer, in the name of our Mediator, Jesus Christ the righteous.
ISAIAH lx, 1.
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
ADMIRABLE is the worth and depth of divine providence! This, either we know not, or at least seldom remember. While we forget the wonders of providence, we direct our thoughts to baser objects, and think not on