Page images
PDF
EPUB

peace, and let

late to save a kingdom or a state from ruin, when the Lord hath decreed the period of it. Therefore, when confusions threaten and begin to peep out, watch them betimes, and let the whole land

pray

for the governors prepare conditions for it, to avert public calamity. If you let tumults and conspiracies grow to a head, it will be in vain to struggle by monthly or weekly humiliations, when our destiny is unavoidable. Plutarch says, that a discontented person challenged the oracle of Delphos, that it never gave a comfortable

That is your fault,' says the oracle, 'for none of you come to me till your case is past help.' Therefore, awake right early ; seek the Lord in the first season, that the course of misery may not wax too strong and remediless. Otherwise the prophet will

say, « The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come ; Israel shall know it: 1 and then whither will ye fly for help to be delivered ? But prevent such dismal tribulations, while it is called to-day; for nothing is more consolatory than seasonable supplication.

answer.

1 Hos. ix. 7.

[graphic][merged small]

HOW THE SACRAMENTS MINISTER TO A CHRISTIAN'S COMFORT.

A GENERAL SURVEY OF SACRAMENTS. FIVE REASONS WHY GOD ORDAINED TWO SACRAMENTS UNDER THE GOSPEL. WHAT COMFORTS FLOW FROM THE GRACE OF BAPTISM. WHAT COMFORTS FLOW FROM THE LORD'S SUPPER.

1

Though by that which hitherto hath been set forth, I trust I may assume, that every one that sets his heart to make use of it, hath drunk well; yet, as the ruler of the feast said at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, “I have kept the good,” that is, the best, “ wine until now :" the water of life in baptism,the wine that delighteth the spiritual thirst in the Lord's supper. Other things in the world report unto us what a good land the Lord hath promised to his Israel; but these two sacraments are Caleb and Joshua, spies that have seen and searched the land, and bring us sensible and sure tidings that it is a noble land, flowing with milk and honey; by the grapes which they have brought with them, and by their ocular and diligent survey, they yield evident testimony that God hath provided a gracious country for us in the kingdom of heaven. To put all my work of consolation into one prospect together, prayer, the best comfortable grace, is married to hope ; the Holy Ghost gives it in marriage; faith is the priest that joins them together; and the two sacraments are the outward signs, by which they have declared their consent, as it were, by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining of hands.

1 John ii. 10.

First; I will treat of sacraments in general; then of each in particular by itself.

A sacrament being a visible sign of inward grace, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof;” or, more at large (which compriseth the end of all such outward signs), a token to confirm men's faith in the promises of God :"-observe first, that God hath condescended above all expression to our weakness, that he would have us to take notice of his mercies in gross and sensible things: a way that is framed to our level and dull apprehension.

• For God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth ;”? that is purely a heavenly way. But some alterations have been admitted, to bring us forward in our own pace, that is, after human and bodily fancies. “ Deus quandoque infantilia loquitur ;" for our sakes, the Lord speaks in the Scriptures in a plain and vulgar emphasis, strangely beneath his infinite wisdom : as a nurse useth to babble to her infant, so he is pleased to give himself to our hands, to our eyes, to our taste, in common and obvious matter, but out of his surpassing wisdom, to make us more spiritual, by clothing religion in a bodily attire.

The Church began in innocency, and yet it began with a sacrament, the Tree of Life,-instituted to keep mankind on earth immortal by tasting it, if Adam had not ambitiously eaten of the tree of knowledge.

When the old world was drowned, and repaired again, God told Noah, ? “ I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant be1 John iv. 24.

2 Gen. ix.

66

as

tween me and the earth, that the waters shall no more become a flood, to destroy all the earth.” This is the world's covenant, and not the Church's; a covenant to save all the earth from a total deluge. And God is to be perceived, and to be thought of in that sign. The glory of the throne of God was the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain : this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord :'

:'1 and so the same glory is figured in the rainbow. ?

After this, it being not discovered who did openly and entirely profess the worship of the true God; Abraham was called out of Chaldea, and he and his family were embodied into a Church, and received the sign of circumcision, as a mark stamped upon them, to be known to be those whom God had called out for his own, and did admonish them “ to circumcise the foreskin of the heart :" 3 chiefly to imprint into them, that the promised seed should come from that stock, in whom all nations should be blessed.

When Abraham's seed became a national Church, before they could get out of Egypt, the blood of a lamb was sprinkled upon their doors, with a statute given upon it, that from thenceforth every family, at that time of the year, should give account for a lamb slain, and be eaten within their houses, till John Baptist's Lamb was slain to take away the sin of the world.

Under the like discipline, they were trained up for a while in the wilderness, when Moses set up the figure of a serpent upon a pole, that they might look upon it, and live, that were stung by serpents. The author of the " Book of Wisdom" writes divinely upon it. “ That they might be adınonished

3 وو

4

1 Ezek. i. 28
3 Deut x. 16.

2 Rev. iv. 3.
4 Numb. xxi. 9.

66 two

"2

for a small season it was a sign of salvation,—and he that turned himself toward it was not saved by the thing he saw, but by thee that art the Saviour of the world.” 1

Neither are we such perfect men under the New Testament, to be taught only by the words of holiness and truth, but are received into the covenant of grace, and preserved in it by mysteries signifying wonderful things to our outward senses, that we may suck, and be satisfied with the Church's breasts of consolation ;' and be filled with the "two golden pipes, that empty the golden oil out of themselves." 3

I stand upon the number of 'two, because they are put together " The Israelites were all baptized in the cloud, did all eat the same spiritual meat, and all drank of the same spiritual drink.” As good account for it is, 5 “ By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, and have been all made to drink into one spirit.” Or learn it from St. John: “ Christ came not by water alone, but by water and blood. And there are three that bear witness, the Spirit,” that is, the ministry of the Gospel, water," that is, baptism, and “the blood,” that is, the Lord's supper. I will not promise a precise testimony out of antiquity, which shall say there are but two sacraments under the Gospel, and no more ; but learned men have produced out of the Fathers as much as amounts unto it, to them that will not be contentious. Justin Martyr,' to the emperor, speaks of these two marks, or professed signs of Christianity, and no other. Tertullian against Marcion, å brings them that are married to baptism and the Lord's supper.

6

St. Cypria,' to Stephen, 1 Chap. xvi. 6, 7.

2 Isaiah lxvi. 11. 3 Zach. iv. 12. 41 Cor. x, 3.

5 1 Cor. xii. 13. 6 1 Epist. v. 6. Lib. iii. c. 51.

9 Lib. ii. ep.

or the

72 Apol.

[graphic]
« EelmineJätka »